NaNoWriMo Featured Author of the Week: Amanda Fanger

Hi there! My name is Amanda Fanger and 2012 is my first NaNoWriMo. A year ago was the first time I had ever heard of National Novel Writing Month. It was just before Thanksgiving that my tongue formed the syllables NaNoWriMo for the first time. I thought it was crazy and I wanted to be a part of it.

The novel I have decided to write is (for now) called Spell Bound, although that title will eventually be changed because, since the story idea was first conceived, I’ve come across other books by the same title.

This story came to me as a series of scenes that kept playing out in my head, over and over. It took me something like five days to write approximately 26,000 words for a very rough, but very complete, first draft when I was in high school. I was so proud of the words I’d labored over to fill my little notebook, but I knew it wasn’t long enough to be a real book. Of course I’d have to write a second draft and flesh it out a bit.

But when I attempted to write that second draft and fix some of the plot holes, the story fell flat. The all-fire passion for the story that had inspired me during that week of insane writing was suddenly gone. It seemed that as I tried to think of ways to overhaul the story, to add more complexity, it only seemed to create more problems. It got to the point where I simply had to put the story away because I was frustrating myself and losing my interest in the story altogether.

While the original manuscript was collecting dust in my desk drawer, the story was far from dormant. It was at the back of my mind, intensifying and building, growing into something of a monster.

And now it wants out.

Some of the simplest elements of the original story are still mostly intact, and a few scenes from the first version are still there, but the overall feeling and scope of the story has changed.

I’ve yet to do an outline of this new version of the story, but I know I’m going to have my hands full with this one. It will be unlike anything I’ve ever written before. The biggest challenge is going to be the world-building and creating a society stepped with conspiracy and corruption.

During NaNo, I hope to complete the new first draft.

Synopsis: Within our world are points that transport magic-bearing individuals to realms where magic governs all. Within each realm is a magician-king who sends trained magician guards into the world to recruit undiscovered magicians into their ranks before the rulers of the other realms do the same.

Most of those brought back never realized they were magicians and have just a trace amount of magic in them. But sometimes a magician is brought back who is more powerful than most. Sometimes that power goes to their head when they are trained to use their magic. And sometimes they decide to overthrow the magical government in a bloody display just because they can.

When one man sends the otherwise peaceful realm of Lisbond into chaos, Seaira is forced to overcome her insecurities about her magic in order to survive. While her only concern is in protecting her son, this timid young woman may be the lone magician capable of stopping the crazed raise to power of the man she loves.

To learn more about Amanda, visit her blog (http://www.amandafanger.blogspot.com/), follow her on Twitter (@amanda_fanger) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/amandafangerwriter).

NaNoWriMo Featured Author of the Week: Veronique Kootstra

As you can probably tell from my name, it hasn’t got an English ring to it. I was born in The Netherlands where I did most of my growing up. At the age of twenty-one, after studying journalism for a year, I could no longer ignore the urge to move to another country for a change of scenery. Skip forward ten years and I’m still living in the same place; Edinburgh, Scotland, which I now call home. It took me few years to get back into writing but quickly came to the conclusion that it is what I love to do most.

Looking for new writing challenges helps me to stay focused and, most importantly, to keep writing, even when it‘s sometimes challenging to combine it with a full-time job. I mainly write quite dark flash fiction with psychological undertones. NaNoWriMo is a great opportunity to start the one thing I have, up to now, found too daunting to even seriously think about. Knowing that other writers all over the world are doing same thing will hopefully spur me on until the end.

The NaNo novel I have planned is based on a flash fiction story titled ‘Lost’ which I wrote a few years ago. It’s a seven hundred word story that is somewhat personal and I’ve always wanted to do something more with it. The dedication it will require still worries me, going from writing very short stories to a novel is quite a big leap but one I’m now ready to take.

I’ve not got a polished synopsis yet or a title I’ve settled on, but I’ll try and tell you about it as best as I can. The main characters in my story are Diane, a fifty-five year old woman who has bipolar disorder, and her twenty-six year old daughter, Alison. The struggle for both of them to accept the disease becomes apparent throughout the story. Both find it difficult to let go of the past and move on. Diane’s psychotic episodes are written in such a way that hopefully the reader comes to understand that the things she experiences are very real to her. Nobody can completely understand what goes on in her head, however it does deserve an equal amount of attention in the story as Alison’s struggle to come to terms with her mother’s illness. Alison gets comfort out of reading the short stories her mother used to write on coloured cards and read to her when she was little. Undoubtedly, the subject matter carries baggage but my aim is show different sides of the disorder and not focus on just the negative. At the heart of the story is a complicated but loving mother-daughter relationship.

Some say write about what you know; others are for embracing the unknown. As this is my first attempt at writing a novel, I’ve decided to go for the ‘know’ option, but as it’s a subject that is very personal to me (my mother suffers from bipolar disorder) this is by no means the easier one. It did cross my mind to leave out the fact it’s partly autobiographical, but this could imply that I’m embarrassed about it and that’s certainly not the case. I feel very strongly about wanting to contribute to reducing the stigma of mental illness. As I’m very aware that I can’t just rely on my own experience, I’ve done as much research as possible beforehand. My aim is create a story that is engaging and real.

I would love to connect with other NaNoWriMo writers, you can find me on twitter @vkootstra or if you want to have a peek at my blog: www.veroniquekootstra.wordpress.com.

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.

@WriMo is a Must Read for #NaNoWriMo – Win a Copy Here!

Hey WriMos! I’m excited to share a great new book with you. If you’re participating in National Novel Writing Month this year, you won’t want to miss this one. In fact, I’m going to give away a copy at the end of this post, so keep reading!

My Review

Are you new to writing, as in never finished (or maybe started!) a novel? @WriMo is for you.

Are you a National Novel Writing Month (or JuNoWriMo) virgin? @WriMo is for you.

Did you attempt NaNoWriMo and not quite make it to the end? @WriMo is for you.

Are you a several-time NaNoWriMo champion who’s on the [long, grueling] road to publishing? @WriMo is for you.

@WriMo: A 30-day Survival Guide for Writers isn’t a writing handbook—it’s a motivational tool. It’s like a concentrated dose of writing-pep-me-up in a shot glass: the antivirus for that pesky Resistance strain. The book is crafted into 30 bite-sized chunks (one for each day of the month) that are easy to swallow in a short time frame. It’s perfect for a five or ten minute get-into-the-groove before you start your daily writing.

Kaiser covers such topics as: “Inspiration is Overrated,” “When the Muses Head to Vegas,” “5 Things to Stop Doing Right Now (if you want to finish your novel),” and “What Bestsellers Do Differently Than Everyone Else.”

Sometimes when I’m stuck I need to be gently encouraged about my talent and potential. Other times I need someone to pull the La-Z-Boy out from under me, knocking me off of my all-too-comfortable butt and drag me back to the writing desk. Kaiser hits both ends of the spectrum with this one. From quoting Yoda (“Do or do not. There is no try.”) to the drill-sergeant-esque “You want to write, don’t you? Then write!” (exclamation point added for emphasis), @WriMo packs the punch.

This book is geared toward NaNoWriMo participants, but is also great for anyone who fights writer’s block, has a difficult time getting motivated, or needs some extra encouragement in his or her daily writing routine—regardless of what month it is. When I picked up this book, I’d been procrastinating on a few projects. After reading just a few sections, I was ready to get back in the ring and have a throw down with my story. Reading @WriMo made me feel strengthened, revitalized, and determined not to give in to Resistance.

If you’re going to do NaNoWriMo, I suggest you get this book now, read it once before you begin, and then read the content for each day as you move through November. It contains a lot of great nuggets you might want to consider before starting, but it will also be a welcome refresher during the experience. Either way, there’s never a wrong time to read @WriMo.

Interview with the Author

Check out this interview with Kevin Kaiser to find out more about the book and his life as a writer. Then make sure and enter the giveaway below!

BC: @WriMo: A 30-day Survival Guide for Writers is geared toward those who participate in National Novel Writing Month. Have you participated in the challenge, and do you have one (or more) NaNoWriMo winner’s badges to your name?

KK: My only NaNoWriMo was in 2005 after a friend had told me about it. At the time, I was puttering around with writing a novel. Like a lot of people, I had an idea, but that’s about all I had.  I didn’t sign up officially through their website, but I loved the idea of all these people working on books at the same time. Even if I didn’t know any of them, I at least wasn’t alone. So I started getting up at 5:00 a.m. and wrote before work, then wrote at night after I had spent some time with my wife. I hit 60,000 words that year, every single one of them terrible, but that sent me on a new path. I was hooked.

BC: You’ve giving all the proceeds of this book to the folks at NaNoWriMo. What drove that decision?

KK: If I hadn’t written that novel in 2005, my life would look very different today. Back then I was in the investment world. NaNoWriMo was a truly defining event in my life that made me realize what I wanted to do with my life. Now I make my living in entertainment, mostly in publishing, and I have NaNoWriMo partly to thank for that. Doing @WriMo was the simplest way I knew to pay it forward and say thanks.

BC: @WriMo is jam-packed with wise advice about how to beat Resistance. How did you find these truths? Were they mostly taught, borrowed, or personally discovered?

KK: All of the above. They all started out as bits of advice and wisdom that I’d heard or read somewhere. Truth is, knowing about something isn’t nearly the same thing as knowing it firsthand. At some point you have to begin discovering and experiencing these things for yourself, otherwise it’s all just hearsay. There’s nothing transformative about hearsay. But experience, well that’s altogether different. Everything I write about now comes from my personal discovery process. I want to know for myself how to beat Resistance and that can only come one way: by doing.

BC: You have a great quote in the book. “Distractions slay more novels than anything else.” As a writer, what distractions do you face and how do you deal with them?

KK: The same ones everyone else does, though I think my greatest distraction is fear. Many writers may not consider fear a distraction, but it’s what derails us more often than not–fear about whether we’re good enough, fear about discovering that we’re really a fraud and can’t write after all. For me, moving past fear when it creeps in is essential. There’s nothing more paralyzing to the creative process. Not even Facebook or Twitter. : )

BC: Your writing blog StorySellerPRO provides the same type of encouragement and motivation that @WriMo does. One of the things I like best is your brutal honesty about what it takes to be a writer. You don’t kowtow to the excuse of writer’s block. In that way, your posts are often like my own personal writing drill sergeant. Who or what pushes you to write?

KK: I’m in a stage at the moment where I’m writing at least partially for a paycheck. Writer’s block is a luxury, if you want to call it that, I can’t afford because I have deadlines. But even that isn’t enough, which is why having people in your life that you can trust is important. I have a few friends, other writers mostly, who have no qualms with calling me out if I’m making excuses. My wife is my own personal drill sergeant and keeps me on track. Being the spouse or significant other of a writer is tough. They’re the unsung heroes, really, and the real reason why so many successful writers never gave up.

BC: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

KK: I’m not really sure, honestly. I remember drawing my own comic books when I was kid and writing short stories. It didn’t cross my mind that I might actually be a writer until a few years ago when my wife corrected me during a conversation. She’d said, “Stop saying that writing is your hobby. It’s not. You are a writer. Accept it because it’s true.” It seems like a little thing, but that was the spark that made all the difference. Still does.

BC: Have you written any fiction? If so, what genre and what was the story about?

KK: I have. Quite a bit, actually. I have many many short stories, which I’ll eventually share with the world. I’ve also done several novel to graphic novel adaptations, a handful of screenplays, and three full length novels, one of which is published under a pen name. I gravitate toward thrillers, but thrillers that bend toward the supernatural. I think I have my taste in comics to movies to thank for that.

BC: You’ve worked with a variety of talented authors, including New York Times Bestseller Ted Dekker. What’s it like hanging around so many creative minds?

KK: When we actually get the chance to hang out it’s fun and truly encouraging. I’ve learned that everyone is essentially the same no matter what level of success they’ve achieved. We’re all just people trying to do something meaningful in life that we can enjoy. There’s a unique thing that happens, too, when like-minded people come together. New ideas happen that wouldn’t otherwise come to life, and sometimes sets one or all of us on a new path.

BC: What other projects are in the works? Do you have plans to publish again anytime soon?

KK: I just finished the first novel in a series that I was asked to co-write with a successful author. I can’t say who just yet, only that it’s the biggest project I’ve worked on to date. It will release sometime in early January 2013. I also will be finishing the second pen name novel in the next few months, and it will be published probably at the first of the year.

BC: If you could sum it all up in one thing, what would be the single, most important piece of advice for those hoping to win NaNoWriMo this year?

KK: Write because books don’t write themselves. Everyone does it the same way: one word at a time.

Giveaway

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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)”