NaNoWriMo Featured Author of the Week: Brittany Westerberg

I was the typical “nerd” of the class all throughout elementary, middle and high school. I loved reading. I couldn’t get enough of books. I would read as I walked home from school in our town of 800 people. When I was in the fifth grade, I remember being bored at my uncle’s house over Christmas one year and trying to read Moby Dick, though it was too heavy (in numerous ways) for me back then.

I started writing in a journal when I was in elementary school, and I started writing stories in middle school. My family had this old Apple Macintosh computer from the early 1990s, and it was only good for typing on. I would sit on the arm of our old couch – since there wasn’t really room for a chair in that corner of the basement – and write. I wrote three novels on that computer, in multiple documents, since the word processor that was on there would only deal well with documents that were about 30 pages long.

After I went off to college, I started on a journalism degree, wanting to continue writing somehow in my chosen career. I didn’t think that I could be a novelist or a full-time author. That dream was too far out there. My younger brother, however, didn’t think so. He found those novels I had written on that computer when he was going through it – my family had finally decided to trash it – and thought they were good enough to be published.

At that time, we didn’t know much about publishing, but we started sending queries to publishing companies that accepted new authors. We got a lot of “no” answers at first, though two or three of them were, “We’ve reached our limit of new authors this year, but keep trying! This is worth publishing!” It was heartening to hear.

It didn’t really sink in that my dream of being a published author had come true until I had a real copy of my book in my hands. My first novel, Into Fire, about a teenager named Leora who discovers she can do magic, was published in 2011 by Silver Leaf Books. The second novel in the trilogy, continuing Leora’s journey, is set to be published next year. I’ll be working on the third and final novel during NaNoWriMo. I have the general plot figured out, but the only part I have written is the last chapter. (Yes, for some reason, that came through my brain clearly before the second book was even finished.) My overall goal is to finish it by Christmas, with the majority of it (shooting for more than 50,000 words) being done in November.

My day job is as a marketing coordinator for a manufacturing company and a wife to a wonderful engineer, craftsman and bug-killer. We just recently bought our first house in Sioux Falls, SD. My dream of being a full-time author is still out there, and I’m chasing it.

Find Brittany online:

Her facebook page
Her twitter account: BrWesterberg
Her Goodreads Author page
Her website/blog: brwesterberg.wordpress.com
Her Amazon Author page
Into Fire on Amazon

NaNoWriMo Featured Author of the Week: Alissa Leonard

Hey All! My name is Alissa Leonard. This is only my second year doing NaNo, and this year will be completely different. Well, maybe not completely. Last year I wrote almost 20K in November (which was AMAZING for me), and I’m hoping to do more than 20K this year (yes, that’s pathetic, but I figure ‘more than last time’ is a great goal – while, of course, hoping to reach that elusive 50K by some miracle). I had approximately 10K on the novel before November last year, but I have only the very first scene this year. Well, the first scene and the last scene…it’s the same scene, but cut in half. The rest of the book will flashback four years and follow the story, so really I’ve written the last scene… Or something. That scene is 1,343 words. 🙂

Last year I wrote a YA high/heroic fantasy novel. I actually just finished it in October (the first draft ended up at around 150K). I’m letting it sit this month and jumping into NaNo with a SHINY NEW IDEA, which is not a fantasy novel. That’s kind of odd for me. I typically lean toward fantasy/sci fi, so when this one hit me…well, it was strange that I was so excited about it. I’m actually not sure what I’m going to call it (You Must Really Love Him is my second working title already). I have no idea what kind of novel it would be marketed as (definitely YA, possibly a combination of Literary Fiction and Christian Romance? I’m going to call it Literary Romance, just because I can and no one can call me on it because no one has read it yet).

The idea came to me as I was thinking about my high school experience and wondering what might have happened if I had made different choices than the ones I did (which would, of course, make me a different person). It’s probably as close to autobiographical as I’ll ever get, but it will include so many things I never did or considered. It’s my way of exploring how our choices matter. All of them.

It will explore concepts of faith and relationships and how the choices we make affect everyone around us. My spark was to show a first person POV Christian perspective where the main character’s growth in her understanding of Jesus and the Bible heavily affects the choices she makes and how she interacts with people, and the consequences of those interactions.

I am a discovery writer (pantser, as some people like to call it). That means I don’t have an outline. Some discovery writers are able to do some planning, I am not one of them. I’ve tried. I sit and try to think of what’s going to happen in the scene I’m writing…and nothing. Without my fingers on the keyboard (or sometimes I can brainstorm some with pen and paper) I cannot continue with the story. Perhaps that will change with time? Perhaps I’ll learn tricks or something that will help me overcome that, but it’s not now. I am extremely jealous of all the outliners out there – especially when it comes to NaNo. You see, you can practically WRITE YOUR BOOK before November, I can’t do a thing. Not legally anyway. So, I have a plan. I’m going to sit down in October and brainstorm ideas for scenes. Very general ideas. I’m hoping for general events during high school (dances, parties, birthdays, trips, etc) and things I want to accomplish (two characters discussing a certain topic, this realization, this confession, etc) and hopefully have some sort of framework to hang stuff on come November. Like maybe I can have a discovery writer’s outline somehow. I’m not sure it will work, but I’m going to try it. I would love to be able to do some sort of pre-planning and this book lends itself well to trying this idea out, especially since I am drawing a lot from my own memories. I can sit down and think, “hmmm, what happened to me in high school? How did I respond? How would she respond? How would that change things? For her? For him? etc.” Maybe I can even make it halfway (to 25K) with this approach.

Anyway, I’m super excited about this idea and I can’t wait to begin. I’m on Twitter at @lissajean7 and I have a blog at www.alissaleonard.blogspot.com if you’re interested in checking me out. I write a lot of flash fiction, so you’ll find a lot of that on my blog.

Who’s Doing #NaNoWriMo? We Are!

Howdy gang! I hope you’ve had a great summer and are enjoying the new season. Fall came rushing in on me and I can hardly believe next month is November!

Join Us During November

Anna and I are doing #NaNoWriMo next month and we hope you are, too! If you aren’t signed up yet, go to http://nanowrimo.org and do it now.

We had a heck of a lot of fun last June doing word sprints with you guys. Because of that, we’re bringing it all back during November to help support your NaNoWriMo experience. Follow @junowrimo on Twitter to join in. I’m excited about seeing all my JuNo buddies again.

Remember our word count spreadsheet from June? How cool was it to see  everyone’s daily counts? Did you have as much fun racing with your fellow WriMos as I did? I have good news. We’re bringing it back for NaNoWrimo.

We will have a post letting you know when the new spreadsheet is ready, so stay tuned. We had over a hundred people input their names this June. Let’s see if we can get even more next month. Make sure you’ve created a JuNoWriMo account which will grant you access to the spreadsheet.

The best part about this site is the accountability. NaNoWriMo is a big place and it can be hard to get to know people, but here you’ll find a smaller and tighter community. If you’re new, then welcome aboard! We’re happy to have you with us.

Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo

Are you prepped and ready for what it’s going to take to write a novel in thirty days? October is prewriting month and I encourage you to take advantage of it. Starting NaNoWriMo without a plan isn’t just difficult—it’s setting yourself up for failure. Get the bones of your novel sketched out ahead of time so that when the clock turns midnight on October 31st, you’re armed and ready.

What is prewriting and exactly how do you do it? Aaron Pogue has a great walkthrough of how to get ready to write a novel. This post is the first in the prewriting series. Follow his advice and you’ll be ready for November.

More Tips and Free Stuff

One final thing. I’ve saved the best for last. There’s a great new ebook out there called @WriMo: A 30-day Survival Guide for Writers by Kevin S. Kaiser. I highly recommend it for everyone doing NaNoWriMo. This book is full of motivation to inspire your writing journey. It’s especially useful for making you stick with it in those times you really don’t want to write. I read it and loved it. Even better, all the proceeds of the book are donated to NaNoWriMo which means that buying this book is akin to sending them a donation check.

I’m so excited about this book that I’m going to give away a free copy next week! Come back on Monday for a chance to win!

Related Posts:

Prewriting for JuNoWriMo

Prewriting: the Steps

So Many Choices, So Little Time

June 2012 Is Over–What’s Next?

After a whirlwind of a month, June is finally over. For some of us the end of the month is met with shouts of joy and relief and for others it’s received with a few tears and sighs of nostalgia. You might be wondering, “What on earth do I do now?”

JuNoWriMo Stats

This was our (Anna’s and my) first year hosting this event, and it was even bigger than we’d anticipated. Was JuNoWriMo 2012 a success? Most definitely! We started spreading the word around April, but even with only a few short months to drum up excitement, we had a great turnout this year. Here’s the breakdown: Continue reading “June 2012 Is Over–What’s Next?”

Featured Author: EM Castellan

E.M. Castellan

My name is EM Castellan and I am a YA Fantasy writer. I live in an English castle, travel extensively, read voraciously, listen to bands few people have heard of and watch too many movies to count. In case you are wondering, I also have a full-time job, so I mostly write at odd hours and drink a lot of tea. I have been writing for years, but during the past year, I have written the first book in my Epic Fantasy trilogy THE DARKLANDS. I will soon start looking for an agent with it, but in the meantime, I want to take a break from that story. Thus, JuNoWriMo is for me the perfect opportunity to put THE DARKLANDS in a drawer for a month and to work on something else. Continue reading “Featured Author: EM Castellan”

Featured Author of the Week: Felicia Kay Wetzig

F.E. Wetzig

Most people know me as Fel Wetzig and I write Paranormal and Suspense, sometimes with bits of drama and romance thrown in as life gets in the way for my “fictional” characters. In High School, after a strange dream in which the characters in my head – calling themselves the peasants – planned a rebellion, I adopted the phrase “The Peasants Revolt” to describe my literary process. I have a Master’s Degree in Public History, and it wasn’t until my last year of college that I realized how much I miss writing fiction. Since then, I’ve finished two novels, and both are in various states of editing. Continue reading “Featured Author of the Week: Felicia Kay Wetzig”

So Many Choices, So Little Time (Week 3 Pep Talk by Erin Healy)

Erin Healy

Today we have a special guest on the blog! I hope you enjoy this pep talk from best-selling author Erin Healy as much as I did. Be inspired and be encouraged!

~

When I’m writing a book, the most common obstacle I face isn’t writer’s block. It’s the fear that of all the creative choices set before me, I might select the one that’s least effective. Continue reading “So Many Choices, So Little Time (Week 3 Pep Talk by Erin Healy)”

Featured Author of the Week: Melinda McGuire

Melinda McGuire

Hello fellow JuNoWriMos!

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo and won, so I’m familiar with the set up of the WriMo concept, which is exactly why I signed up for JuNoWriMo. Honestly, I wish we had a WriMo every third month. I’d be a prolific writer then!

Nelson and Cora – The Journey is my planned JuNoWriMo story. This is the second book in a trilogy. The first book, Nelson and Cora – The Beginning, was my NaNoWriMo novel. If all goes according to plan (cue the maniacal laughter), the last book in the trilogy will be my NaNoWriMo novel for this year. Continue reading “Featured Author of the Week: Melinda McGuire”

Pep Talk Week 2: When Your Novel Talks Back

Author pic bwBefore I won my first novel-in-a-month challenge, I had been writing novels for at least 10 years.  Or, perhaps, almost writing them would be a better way to put it.  I would start them and somewhere between the 1/3 and the 1/2 way mark, I would suddenly become gripped with the conviction that this was a terrible story.  No one would want to read it, I should delete it and burn all my notes so that no one could every associate such a sophomoric, poorly written story with me.

And then one year, I won a novel-in-a-month challenge by doing one simple thing.

Okay, two simple things really.

  1. I refused to read anything I’d written except for perhaps a paragraph or two to get me going again.
  2. I refused to stop.

Both are easier said than done. The temptation to peek is insane! But don’t.  Nothing will kill your story faster than reading it right now.  So don’t do it!

And then, refuse to stop.  Because chances are sometime this week, your story is going to get all self-conscious and it’s going to start talking to you.

In the middle of week two that fateful November when I finally wrote a novel I could finish, I distinctly remember having this conversation multiple times with my novel.

Continue reading “Pep Talk Week 2: When Your Novel Talks Back”

Featured Author of the Week: Jessie Sanders

Jessie Sanders

My name is Jessie Sanders, and I have one published novel so far, Into the Flames. Into the Flames is a young adult urban fantasy about Rahab Carmichael, a new girl at a boarding school in Boston, and her attempts to find normalcy. What she finds instead is a group of friends that are just as freaky as she is. For JuNoWriMo I’ll be working on the direct sequel to this novel. I’ve already written two other (unpublished) books in the world of Grover Cleveland Academy, and I’m excited to be starting this fourth book in the series. Continue reading “Featured Author of the Week: Jessie Sanders”