NaNoWriMo – I must have lost my mind!

What’s NaNoWritMo? It’s National Novel Writing Month. The goal? To write 50,000 words from November 1st to 30th. No editing or reading allowed. All doubts and editing witches checked at the door. Creation stripped bare for the fun of it all.  Thousands of people all over the country will come together to write and support one another.  

Last year members of my writing group jumped head long into NaNoWritMo while I recovered from a very intense writing competition and entered another one. I watched in awe and the with a bit of regret that I hadn’t joined in for the fun.

The competition landed me a book deal with Second Wind Publishing so all things considered I made out well despite missing NaNoWriMo.  This year I’m plugging my new title, ‘Safe Harbor‘ and editing what I hope will be my second book with Second Wind, Escape to Love.  

One would think my plate was full.  The last week or so I’ve started to question my sanity. Life and other things have interrupted my editing schedule. The promotion won’t get done on it’s own, and my poor husband is starting feel abandon. Why did I sign on to write 50,000 words in 30 days? Oh my goodness where will I find the time?

It’s just a bit under 1700 words a day. I’ve done more than that before. The most important reason I’m doing Nano? To remember what it’s like to create without monitoring my usage, premise, plot, figuring out whether or not the piece has commercial possibilities, is my point of view and tense all in line.. and the hundred other things I think about when I’m writing any more.

I’m doing this to take me back into the place where I wrote for me. What I wanted to read, and to devil with what anyone else thought.  Being a writer comes with a fair amount a pressure. It’s time to remember why I love it so much.  If you’re doing NaNo look for my login ‘dragonldy’ perhaps we can be joyful together.

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If you have to explain, it’s not working.

I’m in the front row these days, having recently been published through Second Wind Publishing LLC.

This far from gets me off the target of critique. If anything it rather makes my work a bull’s eye. I’ve gotten my share of comments, complaints and suggestions. I decided very early to consider each of them carefully and do my best not to get defensive. 

Listening and carefully filtering what other people have to say has made me a better writer.

I note some aspiring authors want to argue with readers, instead of asking why it’s confusing, not well executed. 

When an aspiring author posts parts of their writing to a social board or blog, they should expect readers to express their opinion. They are giving their time to your unpublished work, and as such should be treated with respect. Telling the reader they are wrong, or that it is explained in the next chapter isn’t respectful. 

When you go into a bookstore is the author of every book standing next to their displays? No, and you won’t be either.

If you don’t catch a reader in the first paragraph, it doesn’t matter how brilliant the rest of the book is. They will put it back on the shelf and move on until one does capture their attention.

Should you listen to every criticism? Of course not, you’d go crazy trying to make everyone happy..it can’t be done.  When the same comment is repeatedly being made, give it consideration.  Could that many readers have simply misunderstood your intent? Or as an author did you fail to convey it properly?

Social sites and contests are a great place to learn. Take advantage of the reader’s observations, and learn from them. Writing is a solitary occupation. Sharing your work is not.

You’ve written ‘The End’. Now what?

‘The End’ It’s been written, you’ve come to the conculsion of your story. Joy, Elation! Congratulations you’ve finished a full length novel. Many dream, many aspire, and you’ve completed the goal; to write ‘The End’.

When I was writing my first manuscript (ms) I had my best friend (the one person in the world who would tell me if it was crap) beta reading as I went. In as much I did clean up editing along the way. Little did I know how far from the finish line I was; probably a good thing in retrospect.

I bought books on how to query and be published. Very quickly I discovered I was a guppy swimming with sharks. One needs an agent to find a publisher. Agents like to take on authors who have an interested publisher. Huh? I need an agent to get a publisher, and to get an agent I need a publisher?

Confused, I set about sending queries and writing my next book.

What I didn’t know?

I had a first draft, not a finished piece. Reject letters came in and I kept writing.

Fast forward to a contest. I got out my ms and started to read in hopes of polishing it into a winning submission. Gasp! I wrote that? It’s littered with infomation dumps, saidisms, head hopping.. good gracious no wonder all I got were reject letters.

Time for the first real rewrite/edit. Good news? I still love my characters and the stories I’ve written. Bad news? As I learn and grow as a writer I find myself back in the orginal mss looking to clean them up.

The journey from ‘The End’ to Published is a long road.  I made it, and stand as a testiment that hard work and perseverance does indeed pay off.

My debut novel, Safe Harbor, is available through Second Wind Publishing LLC. 

Depth of Character

Sherilyn Winrose, author of Safe Harbor published by Second Wind Publishing, speaks about depth of character:

There are a few things which will make me stop from reading a story.

Cookie cutter, cliché characters is one of them. Or characters who lie flat on the pages like paper dolls.

There is one author I just don’t read anymore, because her characters repeat, repeat, repeat. I gave up on any hope of some miracle of original characters with her. She’s popular and vastly successful in the publishing world. Three pen names last I heard, all of them have best sellers. We should all be so lucky. All the same, she lost me for lack of originality in her characters.

When I approach a story, generally the characters come to me first. I write romance, so there are some things my Hero must have. Momma’s boys, short, no morals, weak of will or ego-driven men need not apply.

Heroine – Pretty much up to the author. I personally refuse to give voice to damsels in distress, clingy, needy types, martyrs, and drama queens.  Heaven save me from weak women!

For supporting characters the sky’s the limit so to speak. I have a lot of fun with my supporting characters.

The ‘complications’ or skills my characters have dictates the amount of research required to make them real.  Some of the complications/skills I have, so it comes pretty easy.  Other times they come to me with things I know nothing about.

How do you bake biscuits in a camp fire?  What would it be like to have the hopes of many rest on your shoulders?  How many miles can two riders and a pack animal travel in the Sierra Nevada?

All of these things add depth and reality to characters.  If your heroin loves and grows roses, please don’t tell me she has a miniature rose growing over an 8 ft arbor..that ain’t gonna happen, and she should know that.

How do you approach your characters, their quirks, skills and inner being? Do you get lost in research? Or find not much is required?

About Me

I’m a native North Dakotan. I currently reside in Eastern Washington. Inspiration for my novels are drawn from the western locations I’ve lived and visited. Romance with an edge is what I enjoy reading. It most certainly is what I love to write.

Safe Harbor is my debut novel.