Monday, November 29, 2010

Seven gifts from Nanowrimo

1. I can write even when I don't feel like writing (which is most of the time)

The truth is, for most of Nanowrimo, I didn't feel like writing my Nanonovel quota of words each day. Even though I normally write every day, whether it's on articles for, curriculum for church, picture books, or novels, focusing my attention on one project and keeping up with it for an entire month containing a major holiday was hard. Most days I just didn't feel like doing it. Had I the choice, I would have bopped between projects like I usually do, and I wouldn't have completed my rough draft in a month.

2. Small snippets of time are valuable

I did better on the days where I took advantage of small pieces of time early in the day so I didn't have much to do at the end of the day rather than the days where I wrote late and fell into bed exhausted.

3. It's better for me to write early in the day rather than wait until the end of the day

The days it was easiest to write were the ones where I put in a few hundred words earlier in the day. I think this was partially because it got my mind turned in the direction of the novel, so my mind could work on it while I was doing other things, and also because it made me feel like I had gotten ahead. I felt motivated and rather than overwhelmed. Normally I'm a late night writer, because that's when our house is quiet and I can work uninterrupted. I'm hoping to revise this.

4. It's easier to write when I'm not tired

This was a grueling month. Not only did we have Thanksgiving, but we had a conference at church for which I was responsible to find staffing for my department. I was away more in the evenings than I normally would be, and trying to achieve my word quota on days that were literally jammed with necessary activities from beginning to end made it almost impossible to find enough time to write unless I took it out of sleep time, and you always pay for that the following day.

But even on those late nights with early mornings the next day, it was easier to write if I did it early, because I knew by afternoon and evening I'd be running on fumes and walking around in a fog.

5. Support groups are very helpful

I'm not quite done with my Nanonovel, but I'm getting close to the finish line, and I'm only behind by 632 words right now. Last year I had completed it by this time, so even though I'm not way behind, I didn't get it done as quickly. I had virtually no support group at all, and only did one writing contest with a friend instead of several through the month. Friday night I wanted to give the whole thing up in the worst way, but instead I sat down and knocked out 2000 words, chipping away at the loss I took during the conference last week. Why was it easier last year? I had more external support.

6. You can always do more than you think you can

I am reminded of Bree in C.S. Lewis's The Horse and His Boy. In case you haven't read the book, Bree was one of the two talking horses escaping with two children to Narnia. He had lived in slavery so long he had lost the ability to force himself to tap into his inner strength, but he wasn't aware of it. He needed external motivation to truly do his best, and he wasn't able to do that until he had a lion on his tail. Then he turned on speed that he didn't know he possessed and made it to safety. Nanowrimo will be the lion on your tail if you'll let it. If it wasn't for Nano this year, I'd have given up on this book long ago.

7. Being overwhelmed is a state of mind rather than a state of being

Occasionally I run into people who tell me they can't fulfill their obligations because they are so overwhelmed by life in general or a specific problem. They are sure that letting one thing go will make them feel less overwhelmed, and then life will be good again. I'm sure when they do this, they probably do feel a measure of relief for a time, but only for a time.

Yes, be careful about becoming overcommitted. You have to consider your family and your self when you get involved in anything. But once you've given your word, see it through. You can do more than you think you can, and it's usually not the way of integrity to try to get out of what you said you would do. Why can you compare two people with similar schedules and find one is overwhelmed and the other is not? It is not because of the schedule. It is because of the state of mind of the person.

That's it for now. In advance I'm going to ask you to forgive the typos in this post. One of the gifts of Nanowrimo is not careful proofreading! (Later on Monday: I can't believe I used "tale" instead of "tail." I have corrected the mistake.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Uh oh

This is just a post to say that I missed my post on Monday. For some reason I feel the need to purge my soul by admitting this obvious fact. I suppose there are good excuses I could use, such as Nanowrimo, Thanksgiving guest arriving, and the normal challenges I face every Monday, but I won't.

Bottom line? I just forgot.

So for those of you who are Nanoing this year, keep up the good work. Don't get discouraged. You can make it, and you'll have a complete rough draft to show for your toil. It's totally worth it, in my view.

To those of you who are not Nanoing, enjoy your leisurely Thanksgiving. You won't have a manuscript at the end of the month, but you'll still have some happy memories, I hope, of time spent with family and friends as you were thankful for all the good God has done for you this year.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Revised novel and revised cover

Hi all,

Fixed up my novel cover and gave it a few final tweaks. What I notice primarily with nanocovers is that people tend to choose really odd fonts and leave them the way they are. I believe this one works.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Laura Progress

24,024 - Word Count Sunday evening. It is the 14th. I have a little over 2 weeks to go and about 26,000 words to go.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I am doing my own version of NANOWRIMO this year. I want to finish re-writing a novel that has been poking along for a couple of years now. I have mercilessly chopped off the last half of what I had written and ended up with 20,401 words. My goal is to write an additional 30,000 words and finish this thing up by November 30. I will post my word count here! As of last evening, my word count was up to 22,109 so I have a long ways to go - but I have set my mind to it. If I could do it last year with my slow start then, I can do it this year too! Write on!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Interview with editor Chuck Sambuchino on his latest book

Chuck Sambuchino is an editor and a writer. He works for Writer's Digest Books and edits GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS ( as well as CHILDREN'S WRITER'S & ILLUSTRATOR'S MARKET. His humor book, HOW TO SURVIVE A GARDEN GNOME ATTACK (, was released in Sept. 2010 and has been featured by Reader's Digest and AOL News. Besides that, he is a produced playwright, magazine freelancer, husband, cover band guitarist, chocolate chip cookie fiend, and owner of a flabby-yet-lovable dog named Graham.

1. Have you noticed any unusual gnome activity since your book came out in September?

Not yet. Methinks the garden gnomes are mounting a large offensive of some kind. I think the world needs to be at Def Con 3 right now (alert color: Orange). 90 percent of surveyed gnome defense experts think that a dangerous and grand attack is coming in the next 12 months.

2. Have any gnomes shown up at your book events?

Just the heavily sedated ones I bring with me from time to time. They are harmless and just for show. Mostly, gnomes know better than to mess with me, because they realize that I pulverize little garden warriors for fun and then eat my dinner.

3. Where did you get the idea for your gnome book?

I was thinking about the movie THE FULL MONTY when I recalled a scene with a garden gnome. I started to get creeped out. Then I thought: If gnomes creep me out, certainly they creep out others, as well. That was the beginning.

4. There are rumors that the gnomes have signed a contract with a Scandinavian publisher for a book entitled, Taking Back the Garden: Strike First, Strike Hard. Any comments on this?

I shall double my efforts. Gnomes and gnome allies seem to have infiltrated everywhere! Stop coddling these peddlers of death and instead pick up a sledgehammer!

5. I read in one interview that your family and friends were dubious about the project at first. Are they believers now?

I think the general reaction at first was, "I dunno...That sounds pretty weird." People tend to have short memories, though. I mentioned to a friend the other day that he thought, at first, that the idea was wackadoo. He had no recollection of ever giving that feedback. But nowadays, everyone's excited and onboard the Gnome Book Train.

6. You also wrote 2011 Guide to Literary Agents. Has traveling through the publishing process as a writer influenced you as an editor? If so, how?

GNOMES is actually my eighth book to come out, total, but my first one independent of Writer's Digest Books, done through an agent. After seeing everything I've seen, I've really tried to impart some things to writers, such as 1) Do not put all your eggs in one basket; 2) Keep moving forward through all the rejections and setbacks; and 3) This is a tough business, but the reward is super sweet for those with the patience and determination to forge ahead.

7. What upcoming promotional events should your fans be aware of?

I travel and speak quite frequently, so people should just follow my blog to see all my events: I also Tweet a lot: @chucksambuchino. My first big event in 2011 is actually WD's own huge writing conference in Manhattan, where we have about 60 literary agents taking pitches during a huge pitch slam. If you're looking for a good conference and want to get an agent, come out to the event:

8. I heard that you're working on a new project. Any hints about what we might have to look forward to?

Mwahahahaha. I cannot reveal anything yet, but I am submitting new humor book ideas and working on some screenplays. Who knows what may come of all this?

Nano Day 10

Need I say more?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Nanoreflections: The power of Nanowrimo

There is great benefit in Nanowrimo. Its charm (or curse) is that it forces you to do all the right things that help you become a better writer. In case you're feeling like quitting already, let's review.

1. Nanowrimo forces you to keep going rather than to give in to writer's block.

Writers love to throw their hands up and proclaim they're stuck by writer's block. It's a great reason not to write for awhile. The only bad thing is, it's a bunch of baloney. You rarely see accountants who say, "Honey, I just can't go to work today because I have accountant's block." Here's another one. "I couldn't hammer a nail if I tried today; I have carpenter's block." No, let's face it. If you're stuck, write something until you aren't. Get over it. Professional writers don't give in. Nanowrimo won't let you, either.

2. Nanowrimo causes you to continually produce.

Like it or not, tomorrow will dawn bright and early, with a new word quota to be filled. You have to do it or fulfill one of the unpleasant bets you made with your neighbor or spouse in order to keep you motivated this month. It's not going to go away. You just have to keep on doing it.

3. Nanowrimo causes you to write intensely

This is a good one. Intense writing is where the fire is. You can tone it back later, but now is the time to duct tape your inner editor's mouth shut and type your heart out. Since you're driven to get your word quota out, it's necessary to plunge ahead rather than wonder if you should have used word choice A or word choice B.

So I hope you're enjoying Nanowrimo. If you don't like what you've written, you're in good company. It's happening to virtually every writer who is with you this month. Just understand that it's a common symptom of writing and keep on.

See you next week.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Part (continued)


“Are you two tourists?”

“Well, we’re actually visiting our friends’ church here in Elgin and we want to reach out to the community.”

The booklet was actually a track.

“Oh, really. That’s so great. Praise God.”

Recognizing each other as brother and sisters in Christ, we began to just chat. Turns out Nancy and John were teachers from a bible college in Baltimore. Together they had done missionary work in Ecuador for six years.

For Nancy, after she got saved, it was as if God had taken her by the hand and before she knew it she found herself in Baltimore asking herself, how she had actually gotten there.

Their church is connected to the bible school and has a branch in Germany.

Was this God taking me by the hand now? Nancy asked to share some of my own background and before I knew it we were talking about the gifts I believe the Lord has entrusted me with.

The biggest project being the book I started writing several years ago. What had started out as a self-therapeutic journal had evolved from intercultural travel memoirs into an inspired testimony of God’s supernatural intervention in my life. How he turned a bitter past into sweet rewards and a glorious future, free from depression, wrong addictions and dependencies, debt, abuse, self-destructive tendencies...He literally turned darkness into light, gave me a new heart filled with faith, hope, love and purpose to pursue.

Meeting Nancy after having thought about bible college and missions I was tempted to give way to an old habit of looking for direction through outward circumstances- to maybe just pack my bags and go to Baltimore. This time wisdom would restrain me. All that’s left is an echo of the still, small things that were uttered when Nancy reminded me, of my righteousness in Christ.

“It is just so evident that God has your life in His hands. Always remember, that you are already perfect.” My flesh wanted to yell out “No, I’m not!” But then I remembered what God had been speaking to me about in our private time of late, just as I had heard in church so many times. And yet I can’t imagine ever hearing too much of it. When the Father looks at me, He sees His Son, who is blameless, spotless and perfect. His grace towards me abounds and He’s pleased with me just the way I am. He loves me unconditionally.

God knows how I will decide, he’s not surprised. I make plans but He orders my steps.

He knew I was going to make that choice to follow His leading to go to the lake.

That same morning, God had told Nancy’s friend, who was the pastor of this group to go down to the river. Out of our obedience our paths crossed by divine appointment.

Nancy and I exchanged numbers, said our good-byes and as I was leaving I noticed a big bronze sign further along he path, closer to the Fox River’s dam. When I got closer I saw the portraits of two firemen, who had given their lives in an attempt to save another man. Fire Capt. Stanley Balsis and firefighter Michael Whalen. On a warm and sunny day in 1974, in the wake of a dare a man decided to cross the dam by Kimball Street with a rubber boat and got caught in the current right beneath it. Dramatic hours passed, both firemen lost their lives, one after the other. The man despite His act of folly survived.

The tribute ends with John 15:13:
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

It made me wonder how many times firefighters or policemen would have to endanger their own life, because of something that stupid. Leave their families behind, their children, their future. How many times does a guardian sacrifice what’s most precious so that another might have life? And who of those answers the call out of duty to a stranger and who was the one responding to love?

Then I think about that one man, who unleashed unfathomable guilt over having birthed death out of human error.

What if the hero, who died to save is alive? Does this one act not change your heart forever? Does this not shed abroad a love so deep that all you want to do is shower your Savior with thankfulness and love? Knowing that Jesus laid down his life for me, is it not the reasonable response that I would do the same and lay down my own? Leave all of it behind at an instance if he asked me to?

And so, as the leaves are turning and falling to the ground summer parts and I, too, do part from a life that is not my own, but to be a living sacrifice of gratitude responding to love.

Revelation 2:7-8 (NLT): 7Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God. 8 Write this letter to the angel of the church in Smyrna. This is the message from the one who is the First and the Last, who was dead but is now alive.

John 5:21(NLT): 21 For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Nanostruggle continues

Seems like the Nanostruggle has begun a few days early for me. Somewhere about the second week, most authors feel like the book is a mess and they can't possibly go on. This is due largely to the input of the inner editor who hates all your first drafts. When you know in advance that you're going to feel that way, you can prepare yourself mentally to ignore your inner editor and push through.

It is imperative that you push through.

Right now, we're only on day five, and I feel like I could walk away from this project and not look back. I knew I was going to feel that way, so I'm okay with it. There are other responsibilities I could walk away from too if I didn't feel obligated to do them, such as organizing my desktop, washing the salt off my car in the winter, or having a wisdom tooth removed. This is the week during which writers who are doing this for the first time are going to find out that writing isn't all fun and games. (If you're a writer year round, you probably know this already.) Pretty much, writing is blood, sweat, and tears. You put your lifeblood into the book, you sweat profusely when you feel stuck, and you cry buckets when not even you like the end results.

So for those of you beginning to feel like this isn't the fun you thought it would be, hang in there. There are going to be days that writing your Nanobook doesn't feel like anything even resembling fun, but when you hold that manuscript in your hands at the end of thirty days and know that you did it along with hundreds of fellow Nanowriters, you'll be more than glad that you didn't give up.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Nanoprocratingating, are we?

I'm Nanoprocrastinating right now, with my idea revolving in my mind. The truth is, it's harder to write for Nanowrimo this year. There is very little support, because almost no one I know is doing this. In fact, the only friend who is doing it is in another state hundreds of miles away. It's easy to procrastinate when there's no one typing away next to you trying to get the higher word count.

But in some ways, Nanowrimo is also easier this year. Since last year's Nano-event, I've become a much more disciplined writer. As of the end of this November, I will have finished two entire novels, and almost completed a third. Looking back over the year, that's not such a bad thing for a busy mom who home schools and does other stuff. I'm become a semi-regular writer, and it was quite a buzz to have a publisher actually look at one of my picture books for a few months. It made me feel like I could take this whole thing a little more seriously this year.

So just consider this a snippet of what's new as I Nanoprocrastinate (although I won't for too long since I'm due to produce 2200 words today). Hope you're all having fun not writing, but I think you're missing out on one of the most fun ways there is to force some writing productivity.

By the way, I'm also doing PiBoIdMo this year, since I'm a picture book writer at heart. You can sign up for that until November 7th, so if you haven't and you're a picture book writer, give it a whirl. It's a lot easier than Nanowrimo, and quite possibly more fun.

See you on the other side!