Tag Archive | nanowrimo

Ten Years

Ten years ago, I listened to a still, small voice telling me to write a novel during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month for more info go to http://www.nanowrimo.org).

So I did.

The first novel I ever wrote, finally released in November of 2017.

I wrote 117,000 words in 21 days. The goal was 50,000 words in 30 days. I had a blast. I was hooked.

I wrote and wrote and wrote. By the time I published my first novel in 2015, I had written my complete 5-book Gothic Regency series as well as four other novels. I had published a flash fiction and a short story. I was working as an editor for a small publishing house, Prism Book Group, which was eventually bought out by Pelican Book Group.

As of today…those totals have increased to 20 completed titles. 15 of those are published, three more are contracted and in the process of getting to publication. Two are awaiting a home. Five are available in audiobook and I’m working on recording some of my novels. I now teach workshops at writer’s conferences and at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh through their continuing education department.

I have four more stories started.

My first published novel, with a new cover!

Life has changed significantly since God first called me to write.

Writing was initially an escape. A place to go to hide from the pain of my daily life. I wrote the happily-ever-after stories I wanted to read. I wrote about the love that I hadn’t experienced but believed was possible. I poured my own personal pain into the pages of my novels.

Then it happened.

Just as God revealed Himself in amazing ways as I wrote, he finally gave me my own happily-ever-after. After a long time of loneliness, struggling to obey God in my difficult circumstances, and finding freedom from that in 2017, God brought love into my life in 2018.

It wasn’t without obstacles. What good romance goes smoothly? Matter of fact, some of those obstacles remain, but I’ve found a new life to be LIVED, not just on the pages of my novels, but to experience and enjoy. And I found someone to do it with.

I won’t go into details of my struggle here. Those who have walked with me on that path have prayed, listened, encouraged, and even challenged me. I am grateful for their love and support.

Last year I didn’t do NaNoWriMo for the first time (after winning 8 years in a row!) because I was recovering from shoulder surgery, planning a wedding, helping remodel a house, and preparing to move my family. Oh, and all at Christmas-time!

God is good, even in the darkest days when I wondered if He would be good to me, I never doubted that it was His character. I am blessed beyond measure. I look forward to how my new life will impact my writing.

My poor hubby doesn’t understand all I do but is a champion of my work anyway. He’s loved the stories he’s read/listened to. This will be his first NaNoWriMo…so here’s hoping he can cope with this crazy writer. He’s done fairly well so far…

Happy November!


Inquiring Minds Want to Know (Part 4 of 4)

This is my fourth post answering questions friends have posted on Facebook. Enjoy!

Steps are really popular these days- for example- 21 steps to becoming a super model. How many steps would you give the process of publishing?

That could be an entire blog post on its own. I think that the journey is unique for every author. But here’s my generic attempt.

1) Write, write and write some more. Whether devotionals, non-fiction, poetry, articles, short stories, flash fiction, novels, and no matter what age group you are writing for. Write.

2) Read. Read other books, read about writing. A writer can’t write well if they are not also a reader.

3) Revise, edit and have others read and critique your writing.

4) Connect with a writer’s group of some kind (I’m with ACFW, American Christian Fiction Writers) for support, resources and networking.

5) Attend writer’s conferences You can network, meet others, learn and ask questions and to pitch your story to editors or agents.

6) Get into social networking even before you have a book written. It takes time to build an audience and people need to like you before they will buy your book. Agent and editors will check this.

7) Don’t quit. And remember that God uses the journey as part of your ministry and impact, not just a published novel. Don’t lose sight of the work he is doing because you are so focused on that one goal.

There are plenty of people out there who think or even say out loud, “I should write a book” and then don’t. What do you think the biggest obstacle to writing is, and how did you overcome it?

Most people will give the excuse of time, but I think the real reason most people don’t do it is fear. That’s why I’m a huge champion of National Novel Writing Month (www.nanowrimo.org) because it becomes a community endeavour and the encouragement of others it’s easier to take that step. That’s what got me started but I don’t need it now to write fast or complete a novel.

Do you have particular music that you listen to while you write?

Usually I listen to nothing. When I write the Regency time period I sometimes listen to classical. My last three novels the soundtrack was a compilation of songs by Burlap to Cashmere and Steven Delopoulos.

What’s your biggest pet peeve while editing?

Pet words: that, then, have, feel, look . . .I’m always having to reduce and eliminate those in my writing.

If you could only pick one, who would your favorite author be and why?

God. Only he could write a book filled with drama, romance, crime, poetry, imagery, parable, prophecy, history, biography and then combine them in sixty-six separate stories that are unified throughout the whole. I’ve read the Bible more than any other book.

It’s probably safe to say that most writers have goals and dreams. What’s your ultimate goal as a writer? When will you know when you’ve “reached” your goal?

I would sweet to sell a ton of books and have validation as a best-selling author. I would like it if I could support my family with my writing. But knowing that my stories encouraged someone, helped them when they needed it, or encouraged them to hold tight to their faith in difficult circumstances would be the sweetest thing. It’s an ephemeral goal at best, but when I get that kind of feedback it warms my heart.

How do you get your ideas on what to write about?

My God-given imagination and dreams while I sleep. Two stories in my Orchard Hill series sprung out of a real life (but majorly changed) situation I had read about.

That’s it! Any more questions that haven’t been answered – go ahead and ask and I’ll try to get to them again at a later date.

Inquiring Minds Want to Know (Part 1 of 4)

I asked some of my Facebook friends to ask me questions . . . so the next few weeks, I’ll be answering!

Why romance fiction? How long have you had the passion to write?

I’ve always enjoyed sweet romances. In my late teens early twenties, I was enamored of Georgette Heyer and Marion Chesney’s Regency romances. Clean stories without the explicit sex. I guess you could say I’m a romantic at heart and I long for that. My characters get the love and romance I don’t.

What made you choose writing? What keeps you writing? What motivates you?

I believe God led me to writing by telling me in a dream to do write for National Novel Writing Month (www.nanowrimo.org) in 2009. I think I had always been afraid to try and once I started the dam broke and I found out how much I love the process of writing a story. I haven’t stopped. Once the characters start forming in my mind and that first scene or general story concept and I start writing, I can’t stop until I’ve come to the end. It becomes like an obsession for me.

Which writers inspire you?

I admire the wit and whimsy of writers like Jen Turano, Mary Conneley and Karen Witemeyer, Brooke Williams, Sandi Bricker and Jan Thomson. I love the characters that Dee Henderson, DiAnne Mills, Ronie Kendig paint in her writing. Combined with suspense it is amazing. Becky Wade, Melissa Tagg, Loree Lough, and Lisa Lickel . . . I wish I could write like all of them, but I’ve had to learn that I have my style and I need to be okay with that.

How is fiction writing a reflection of your Christianity?

I love to encourage others. Jesus told parables and there is power in telling stories that can show the process of sanctification which I hope my characters will go through. I also believe we need to grow emotionally as well as spiritually. I hope I encourage others to persevere in their own journeys, spiritually, emotionally and relationally. And hopefully the reader will see biblical truths in a new light based on the journey of the characters to motivate them to persevere through the trials that come their way.

Pothole road damageWhat inspired the idea for this story?

For Pesto & Potholes I actually started with the concept of the potholes based on something I learned in my undergraduate studies. The idea that healing—whether emotional or physical—can be a rocky journey out of the pit and not necessarily an upward smooth trajectory. I labeled it potholes, my prof was a little surprised but to me, it stuck.

For the entire Orchard Hill series, for which Pesto & Potholes is the first book, I wanted to explore one of the things I didn’t understand early in my faith journey was why the church was so important. Especially when so many young adults walk away. Beyond worship and teaching, I realized it was about the relationships. While I agree that the theology of origins and understanding how science supports Scripture is important, but I believe the disenfranchisement of younger adults is deeper than that.

Peter Scazzero wrote a book called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and he posits that when we come to Christ we are born into a new family and need to learn the new rules. Not the “do’s and don’t’s” but how to relate to others in a way that honors God and His other image-bearers. Many times the way we’ve been raised has not been as healthy as the design God has for us in relationships. We are not mature if we only grow spiritually and not emotionally. So . . . I hope that my stories show the value and importance of the new “family” how valuable those relationships are for us to grow up in Christ as well as cope with the ups and downs of life.

More questions will be answered in the weeks to come. If you have some, please write them in the comments below!

World Wide Blog Hop

I’m answering four questions from Cheri Burbach for the World Wide Blog Hop.

Baganz 0524 Edited color

What am I working on?

I’ve got a lot of things going right now. I’m trying to finish up some editing projects for other authors with Prism Book Group so I can be ready for November which is National Novel Writing month. I’ll be writing my fifth book in a series (the first two are already contracted. Pesto and Potholes releases Spring of 2015). This will be my third full length novel this year. I’ve never accomplished that before. This will be my sixth year doing NaNoWriMo. I also am working on edits of my historical.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Every author has their own unique voice. The Orchard Hill series is set against the backdrop of Orchard Hill Church to show the importance of a viable faith in this crazy, mixed up world. I guess that would be the biggest uniqueness is that the church is its own character in the novels. I love the local church and have found my own biggest growth has taken place in community with other believers and especially under healthy, godly leadership. I want to show how wonderful and messy that can be . . . and how vital it is for any believer. I think I manage that without being preachy as I focus more on relationships than deep theology.

Why do I write/create what I do?

The world is scary and hard and I wanted to tackle the reality of those struggles for especially 20-30 something adults but make faith in Christ an integral and fundamental part of facing those challenges. I think my hope is to give them solid truth to cling to in a world that tells them compromise is acceptable. Ultimately our emotional and spiritual growth compels us to maturity in our faith, but it’s through the challenges we really grow. I’m a romance author so that is woven in. I love happily-ever-afters.

How does my writing/creating process work?

I’m a panster which means I write by the seat of my pants. I often will come up with a title and maybe my two main characters. Sometimes I will do a character interview with them before I start writing but sometimes the story just comes. I get that first inciting incident and I write it and the characters take over from there. It’s a wild roller coaster ride wondering what’s going to happen next and at times even I am surprised at the way things go in my story or how my characters react to events. I love the rush of a first draft.


That’s enough about me! Here are three writers I’d like to introduce you to. Feel free to visit them as they continue with the blog hop:

Rachel A JamesRachel James

Born and bred in England, Rachel writes inspirational medieval romance, she is also a pastor’s wife, and has three beautiful little princesses. She minored in creative writing at university and strives to entertain, inspire and encourage others in their own spiritual journey. She’s also captivated by romantic tales… combine it with a little history and a hot cup of tea, and she’s smitten! Find her at www.rachelajames.com for more information.

Connect with Rachel: Website   Facebook   Amazon Author   Twitter   Google+


Renee Headshot2Renee Blare

Renee Blare’s nose has been buried in a book for as long as she can remember. Raised in Louisiana and Wyoming, she started writing poetry in junior high school and that, as they say, was that. After having her son, a desire to attend pharmacy school sent her small family to the awesome town of Laramie. She’s been counting pills ever since. While writing’s her first love, well, after the Lord and her husband, she also likes to fish and hunt as well as pick away on her classical guitar.

After a brief detour to Texas, she back home, nestled against the Black Hills with her husband, crazy old dog and ornery cat. Add her son and parents dropping in for a home-cooked meal, and life’s never dull around her house. She serves the community of northeastern Wyoming as a pharmacist and pens her stories about struggling Christians as they travel along the journeys of their lives—meanwhile keeping things interesting with some action and intrigue, of course. She loves to interact with readers and invites you to check out her website, blog, and social media.

Social Media Contacts: Website   Facebook   Twitter     Groupblog   Pinterest   Goodreads  Tumblr    LinkedIN     Google+

HeadShotAug2014Lee Carver

Lee has lived in six foreign countries and studied nine languages including German and French. She and her husband traveled extensively throughout Europe while living in Spain. A five-week World War II history tour covering the areas where her father-in-law fought created the stimulus for this book.

Lee taught biology and chemistry, served as a volunteer church musician, and in retirement was a missionary in the Brazilian Amazon. She is a member of ACFW and president of its ACFW-DFW “Ready Writers” Chapter, and is active in Stephen Ministry and Kid’s Hope.

Lee is a member of ACFW and president of its local chapter, ACFW-DFW Chapter aka Ready Writers, and enjoys quite a few non-writerly endeavors.

Website   Facebook


Post-NaNoWriMo Blues

2013-Winner-Facebook-ProfileNovember 30th, at 11:59 pm, marked the end of NaNoWriMo. For those unacquainted, this is National Novel Writing Month. It really should be International, because people from all over the globe participated. 309,173 novels were started in November.

I am unable to get statistics yet for this year, but so you can have an idea of the scope and challenge of this, here are the totals from 2012.  Last year 341,375 people signed up for NaNoWrimo and wrote a whalloping 3,288,976,325 words. That’s three trillion, folks! Now some criticize this event saying that if everyone is a winner than what’s the point? See you win if you pass 50,000 words written and validated on the sight and they have to be words written only in November. So how many actually make it? Last year 38,438 writers crossed the finish line. That is 11% of the total who signed up.

Some quit early on, some hang on to the bitter end, some, like me, soar past the goal and keep writing, because a novel is usually far more than 50,000 words.

If you are of that 11% (or whatever it is this year) – Congratulations.

If you fell short, you are a hero for trying and you hopefully have more words on your novel than when when you started the month. That is not an accomplishment to be despised. Most authors do not write 50,000 in a month. Ever. Just keep writing. Keep learning and try again next year.

But December is upon us and I have a few words of caution, especially for those that finished with 50K and even finished their story. This is a rough draft. It’s the first step in a long, drawn out process to publication. Granted, your story is equal parts genius and stupidity. Genius because you thought it up out of your own head. Stupidity because it is filled with problems that you can’t see right now. So here is my advice to you.

  • Celebrate your hard work! Congratulations!
  • If the novel is not finished, keep writing and finish it.
  • When it’s done, read through it and add or fix whatever you feel needs to be done
  • Set it aside for at least a month (or more) before working on your first revision. You are too close to your story right now to look at it objectively.
  • Let others read your work and consider their feedback and use it in your next revision.
  • Check for consistency in your story.
  • Check your grammar and sentence structure.
  • Run it through a critique group and make more changes and revisions.
  • Revise AGAIN if you need to. Use a site like http://www.prowritingaid.com to help you.
  • After all that is done, work on a synopsis and query letter (sometimes this is even harder than writing the novel itself!)
  • Then look for places to submit it to if you want to seek publication. Be prepared for agents and editors to force you to make even more changes to your work.
  • Most of all, take your time and enjoy the process.

Your NaNo novel is a diamond in the rough and needs more chipping away and polishing to make it sparkle and shine. I don’t write these things to discourage you but to give you a bigger picture, if you want to pursue publication, of the process you need to pursue. And these are only the icing on the cake. There is still so much more.

Congratulations, Wrimos! And if you scoff and think it isn’t such a big deal, well, I dare you to join us next November.

Do you NaNo?

2013-Participant-Facebook-ProfileIt is now into the fourth day of November. Are you one of the 120,000 or so people around the globe who have signed up to do NaNoWriMo (aka National Novel Writing Month)? If not, congratulations on avoiding the insanity, especially if you already call yourself a writer.

If you have joined the insanity, however, just know that you are in the company of some of the most wonderfully non-institutionalized crazy people you will meet.

Like me! (no modesty here, I admit to being nuts). Let’s interview myself about this:

What compel a busy stay-at-home mom like me to enter the fray for five years in a row? 

The first year I felt called to do it and had never written a novel and figured it was free, didn’t cost anything and if I didn’t win, no biggie. So I wrote and found out I loved writing.

This is your fifth year? What do you write? 

Yup, five years. I started out writing an inspirational Regency romance as it is my favorite genre to read and there are not enough out there to feed my voracious appetite for fiction. Kind of along the thought of “Write what you would want to read.” Since that first novel had several supporting characters, I’ve been taking one a year. A thread of some evil started to weave it’s way through my stories so it became a five book series with the final culmination in this book. (I have written four rough drafts of other novels outside of NaNoWriMo as well).

Don’t you have a life? 

I still try to go to the Y and I’ve never been much for cleaning anyway and I’ll still meet friends for coffee. So yes, I do have a life. Some of my editing projects I got ahead on so I could focus more on this novel. I probably won’t be so sucked into the black hole of Facebook for as long a period as normal.

How does your family adapt?

They roll their eyes and then pretty much ignore me and the fact that I’m on a quest to not only write 50,000 words – but to actually FINISH the novel within this month (approximately 85K). Thankfully my kids like pizza and hubby is not around enough to care. They are unimpressed by my word count updates.

Any words of encouragement to others who are writing? DSC_0496

  1. Writing can be isolating. Engage on a Facebook page for your area (or create one!) and attend at least one write-in. Post on a forum. Use this as an opportunity to connect to someone new. You never know how God might use that relationship!
  2. Write, write and write some more. Put duct tape on the mouth of your inner editor. If you hit a stall (aka writer’s block) write through it, even if it’s lousy, you’ll up your word count and you might break through to that brilliant part of your story you would have missed. Revising is the time to clean those spots up.
  3. Back up in multiple places. Email your document to yourself. Dropbox is great. Do more than one copy of your document (in case one gets corrupted, um, yeah, it happened to me). Back up often even while you are writing. Don’t count on your auto back up to do the work for you.
  4. Write daily and try for more than 1,667 words if you can. You don’t know what challenges lie ahead in this month. Family, health and other crisis can crop up. If you hit it heavy and hard at the front end, you have a cushion and those interruptions don’t have to keep you from reaching your goal. And don’t let anyone fool you: week two is the hardest, no matter what your word count is going into it.
  5. Don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s easy to think this is going to be your most brilliant work (or the worst). The story I had the hardest time writing was year three – and it as the only one I didn’t finish by the end of Nano. I had hit about 62K but the story wasn’t done. I thought it would be a loss – and yet it’s my favorite to date!  Laugh. Take breaks. Work out. Be disciplined to write through, your novel won’t write itself.
  6. When it’s done -set it aside for a few months before you try to do revisions – you’ll need the space. But go ahead and learn the rest of the craft because writing the first draft is only one aspect. Who knows, maybe yours will be the book that finds it’s way to a bookshelf someday? You never know and we  can always dream big, right?

Those sound good. Thank you for taking time away from your writing to talk with us. 

Your welcome!

‘Twas the Night before NaNoWriMo

If you follow me on facebook, you already know that once again NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) has taken over my life and with great joy I have allowed it to (as will 200,000+ around the world!)! Here was my creativity before I jumped into my third historical novel “Sir Michael’s Mayhem.”  So for the sake of silliness. . .

‘Twas the night before NaNo and all over the world

Fingers were stretching to write their first words.

Computers were warmed up and coffee mugs did appear

For NaNoWriMo was finally here.

50,000 words in thirty days

Madcap writing and lives in a craze

To keep up with that word count dost

To be considered a “winner” at any cost.

Word widgets and badges and guilt monkeys galore,

A Viking, a ninja, throw those in and more!

Without warning plot bunnies might strike

But we must keep writing till November 30th at midnight.

So why do we do it? This made dash to write?

When we put the rest of our lives on the back burner each night?

Because there’s a deadline and everyone has a story,

Only some of us quit when the going gets gory.

So press on to the winner circle, my Wrimo friends!

It’s the only way that this month should ever end!

And I’ll celebrate with you as we collapse in a heap,

Rubbing our carpel tunnel wrists as we fall fast asleep.

Righteous Writing

I was thinking about writing, because, well, I’m a writer. Right? It’s what I do it’s who God has designed me to be and I’m struggling to realize that this is not just a fun hobby – but an actual calling. I don’t have to feel guilty for enjoying my “work.”  I don’t feel guilty doing ministry “work” (also unpaid) so why do I feel like I need an excuse to write, or that it is less important than say. . . doing the dishes?  My writing is just as much of a ministry – or at least I hope it is.  Sometimes the need to write almost becomes an obsession.

Still, three weeks into the school year I’m struggling to find ways to make time for writing. For this blog. For refining my craft. For revising my novel, writing queries, investigating potential agents and on and on and on.  Also for setting up the names and characters for my next NaNoWriMo novel.  That will be another Regency Historical Fiction, Lord Phillip’s Fate (working title, just go with it for now. . .) that picks up where The Virtuous Viscount left off.  (Don’t worry, Pesto and Potholes will also have a sequel . . . eventually.)

If you ever felt like you had a story inside and want a challenge – I’m going to lay it out for you now. Join me in November for the adventure of a lifetime at National Novel Writing Month (www.nanowrimo.com).  I’ll be tackling writing Lord Phillip’s Fate and expect to exceed the 50,000 words in 30 days.  I know I can write a novel without this – however – it’s fun!  So come along for the ride and who knows?  Maybe you will reconnect with a friend from 25 years ago (like I did last year which lead to reconnecting with MORE friends!).  Or maybe even just letting people read your attempt will bless them in some way too.  Or maybe you will simply be able to say, “I did it! I’m a WINNER!”  Let me know if you decide to come along for the ride so we could be writing buddies and cheer each other on!

Dishes are still calling. . .