Category Archives: publishing

My Article in Somerset Memories Magazine!

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As you may know, I published a book earlier this year.  An Altered Existence: Fictitious Stories About Faces from the Past is available via amazon.com and signed copies are sold through my Etsy store.  Well, I’m very happy to share some book-related news.  An article about my book has just been released in the Autumn issue of Somerset Memories magazine!

About the Article
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The article, which was written by yours truly, starts on page 59 and runs through page 61.  The article includes an introduction to the book, stories, and artwork, and then gives how-to information on six of the fourteen illustrations that appear in my book.  It’s a thrill to see my work in the pages of such a lovely publication, and I’m very thankful my project and book were selected to be included in this issue.

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More Great News: A Positive Book Review, Too!
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Some months back I sent Jana Holstein, the Managing Editor of Somerset Memories, a review copy of my book. She read it, enjoyed it, and was kind enough to include the following review in this same Autumn issue of the magazine.  Thanks so much, Jana!

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“When talented author and artist Melody Nunez gave me a copy of her book “An Altered Existence: Fictitious Stories About Faces from the Past,” I was intrigued because I knew it was a book that  centered around stories she created to with beautiful vintage found cabinet cards.  As I began reading, each story drew me in and I felt a part of the tale.  Each cabinet card is altered in a way that resonates with the story, so it’s fun to flip back and look at the art while reading the story.  There are 14 short stories in all, reflecting birth, death, family, romance, and even ghosts.  Well written and heartwarming, this is a fun, quick read.  I really enjoyed Melody’s book.  So much so, that I chose some of her altered cabinet cards as feature article in this issue (see page 58.

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So, if you’ve been thinking about purchasing a copy of my book, but haven’t done it yet, please do.  It’s good!  And don’t just take my word for it – take Jana’s.  And artist/author Seth Apter’s!  And the others who have reviewed my book on amazon.com!  ;] Help support a self-published writer and artist, and treat yourself to a book that can be enjoyed one story/illustration at a time (in multiple sittings) or in one fell swoop.

I hope you’re having a wonderful week.  Happy Fall, everyone!

Warm regards,
Melody

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A Rite of Passage

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My book, An Altered Existence: Fictitious Stories About Faces from the Past, is just over a month old now.  Self-publishing has been a wonderful adventure so far, and I thought I’d share a happy “new author” rite of passage I recently experienced.  Until a week or so ago, all my book sales had been done through Amazon and Etsy.  I hadn’t seen my book for sale in a bookstore, but that was about to change.

While on a road trip I stopped into a bookstore near my destination, and ended up selling them a copy of my book.  Yes, one copy.  They very nicely explained that because they’re a small store they could only start with one book, but I was so excited you’d think I’d made a best seller list.  I was even more excited when one of the two ladies I was doing business with walked over and put my book on their New Fiction section in the front of the store.

OMG – there it was!  My book – for sale – in a store!  It was a first for me, and naturally I had to take pictures to mark the occasion.  I was grinning ear to ear as I left the store and drove on down the road. It was a small victory, but I was elated anyway.  Woo hoo!  Later on in my trip I went to sell another 7 books, including five that were purchased by an antique store, and it was a wonderful feeling.  I wish I’d brought more books with me.  :]

It’s unlikely my little book will make a big splash in the literary world, and I probably won’t sell tens of thousands of copies.  This is a project that came from the heart, and seeing it through to being published – and beyond – is food for my soul.  I strive to be mindful and grateful in daily life, so you can be sure I’m going to appreciate all the firsts and unexpected joys this literary journey brings my way.

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Like the pleasure of seeing MY book on a shelf in a bookstore…

Warm regards,
Melody

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An Altered Existence – Giveaway Winners!

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Thanks to everyone who entered my book’s giveaway.  It was a treat to read your wonderful comments!
It is my pleasure to announce the lucky giveaway winners.  The following three people have each won a signed copy of my new book, An Altered Existence: Fictitious Stories About Faces from the Past.

1. Mayah
2. Debbie M.
3. Amie*

For those of you whose name I didn’t draw, please visit my books’s amazon.com page and consider purchasing a copy – I’d really appreciate it.  Big thanks to those who’ve already ordered a copy!  :]

WANT A “SIGNED” COPY OF MY BOOK?

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If you’re planning to buy  – or have already purchased – a copy of my book from Amazon.com, but would like it signed, I can provide a signed bookplate/label for you to put in your book.  Simply send me a SASE – I’d be happy to send a signed book plate your way!  Here’s my mailing address:

Melody M. Nuñez
P.O. Box 60030
Irvine, CA 92602

Happy reading, y’all!

Warm regards,
Melody

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The Launch of My Book! And a Giveaway!

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I’m thrilled to announce the release of my book, which is now available on Amazon.com!
The title of my book is An Altered Existence: Fictitious Stories About Faces from the Past.  It’s a combination of both my writing and altered art, and I’m so happy to see the project come to fruition!

About the Book (from the back cover)
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An Altered Existence is a collection of short stories, each illustrated with a vintage photo.  These photos, also known as cabinet cards, were “orphans” collected from flea markets and antique stores.  They sparked the author’s imagination, and resulted in 14 short stories illustrated with photos “altered” by the author.

  • A photo of a bearded man with haunted eyes is paired with a silver key, and a story of a family with hoarding tendencies emerges.
  • A wedding portrait of a young couple, combined with a gold wedding band and the words “false” and “true”, yields a tale about a gentle schoolteacher who sets her small town’s rumor mill on fire when she poses for a photo with a local scoundrel, though they’re not engaged or married.
  • A young girl’s portrait, when paired with vintage buttons, births a story that many can relate to: loss, and the subsequent struggle to feel whole again.

Look into these 14 portraits from long ago, and venture into the “altered existences” they inspired.  This collection includes stories about life, love, birth, death, self-acceptance, salvation, and taking chances.  Their stories just may be our stories, too…*

GIVEAWAY!
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In honor of the launch/release of my book, I’m going to give away THREE signed copies!  In order to enter, simply leave a comment here on this post.  The winners will be announced on Tuesday, March 5, 2013, so please enter by Monday, March 4th.  Good luck!
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Please spread the word!
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I’d really appreciate it if you’d share the news about my new book with family, friends, fiction readers, book clubs, and artists – anyone that might enjoy my illustrated collection of short stories.  Thank you in advance!
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I hope you all have a wonderful week…*
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Warm regards,
Melody
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I’m Publishing a Book – Soon!

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Happy Thursday, dear readers!

If you’ve been following this blog since the very beginning you know that I wrote a collection of illustrated short stories some years back, and shopped the collection around to agents in hopes of landing a book deal.  The results were both encouraging and discouraging.  Folks liked my writing, illustrations, and book concept – that was the good news.  The bad news is that readers seldom buy short story collections unless the writer is very well known, so publishers very rarely publish them.  I accepted the fact that I’d have to find another way to publish and put the project aside for a time.
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Fast forward about three years to now, when self-publishing is much more common, accepted, and is much easier to do.  I decided to take the plunge and publish my book through Amazon’s Create Space, as an early 40th birthday present to myself, and hope to have the book available for sale on amazon.com by February 28th.  I’m SO excited!  My wonderfully talented husband, José, has been designing the book cover and laying out the book for me (he’s both artistic and tech savvy) and it’s been a thrill to see the book really coming to life.
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I’ll post a sneak peek at the cover here soon, but just wanted to mention it now, so it’s on your radar.  I’m keeping the title, illustration concept and other details under wraps just a wee bit longer, but will reveal more very soon.  I’ll likely post photos when my proof copy arrives, and will be interested to see what you think of the book’s cover design.  I think hubby has done a phenomenal job on it.
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As part of my book’s launch I’ll be giving away a copy (or three!) here on my blog, and hope you’ll enter to win!  I’ll also be adding a special BOOK page to my website’s main page.  Publishing and publicizing this book is going to be a learning experience, I’m sure.  Have any of you out there published or self-published?  Do you have any suggestions for a newbie author?  I’d appreciate your feedback and insight.  As for those of you who are readers and book buyers, do you buy hard copies or do you buy books for an e-reader like a Kindle, Nook, or tablet? Thanks in advance!
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Warm regards,
Melody
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Author Interview: Kathy Cano-Murillo

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Kathy Cano-Murillo, also known as the Crafty Chica, is a woman of many talents.  Not only is she an art and craft celebrity, she’s also an author of both fiction and craft-related books.  I really enjoyed reading her first novel, Waking Up in the Land of Glitter, earlier this year.  Kathy’s second novel, Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing has just been released, and I’m thrilled to be participating in her blog tour via an author interview.

 

Welcome, Kathy!  I know you’re busy with your blog tour, and hope it’s a smashing success.  I appreciate you taking the time to answer some writing and book-related questions.

In addition to being a writer, I’m also an avid reader and am curious about your reading habits.  I follow you on Twitter and on Facebook, so I know that you’re super busy.  Do you have time to read?  If so, do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?

Oh yes! I usually have three books going at a time. One on my nightstand, one on my iPhone Kindle and an audio book in the art studio. I can’t get enough! Mostly fiction.

 

 

Both of your novels’ storylines sucked me right in, and as a writer/blogger and artist/crafter I love that they’re both set in the creative world.  Your new novel’s main character, Scarlet Santana, had two strong, creative women teaching and guiding her – her Nana Eleanor and Daisy de la Flora.  Have you had similar influences in your life?  Who are your creative idols?

Certainly! I had a Nana Eleanor, who was just like Nana Eleanor in the book. However, I never was able to spend a lot of time with her and I regret it so much. She always wanted to teach me to sew, but I was too busy and postponed it.  After she passed away, I cried for days because I never even took the time for one sewing lesson from my nana. My husband went out to the store and came home with a $99 machine. “All she wanted was for you to sew,” he said. I started with an easy placemat purse and have not looked back. I made a little sewing shrine to my nana and it is in my art studio. I think of her EVERY time I sit down to sew. After I wrote the book, I realized that Scarlet’s relationship with her Nana Eleanor was the one I should have had with my Nana. I hope my Nana knows that and forgives me!

I have a feeling that she knows, forgives you, and is very happy you’ve taken up sewing.  I know you’ve been writing since you were a child (short stories) and were a columnist for a newspaper in Arizona.  However, an inclination to write doesn’t necessarily translate to noveling.  Was there always a novel inside you waiting to come out, or was it an evolution that began after you successfully published your non-fiction titles?

It was always a far-off crazy dream of mine. I knew I wanted to see my novel on the front table at a bookstore, but it wasn’t until 2004 that I actually believed I could outline a story, begin, finish and sell it. I took it one step at a time and devoted countless hours and energy. Even if nothing came from it, I could die knowing I tried as hard as I could!

What was the biggest surprise when you wrote your first novel?

 

How much I enjoyed it. I thought it would be very hard, and it was at first, but once I got going, the stories just flowed out of me. The characters became real people in my life with real problems. I felt like I had an imaginary extended family. It also surprised me how sad I felt once I finished the last batch of editing.

How did the experience or process differ with your second novel?  Did you do certain things differently based on what you’d learned the first time around?

 

Oh yes! I learned what not to do! The process went much faster. When I wrote the first book, I didn’t really know what I was doing, I just wrote what I thought was a compelling book, only to have my editor cut half of it and send me back to my desk to redo it. I learned that every single word, sentence, paragraph and chapter has to move the story forward, otherwise it needs to be cut. That alone saved a lot of time!

What is the most difficult part of the noveling process for you?  Plot development, rewriting, or something else entirely?

 

Getting started on the outline. It’s a blast to dream up the characters, but you have to give them personality, problems, etc. Sometimes I get stuck. I’ll say “I know where Point A is and where Point Z is, but how do I get my character there?” It’s only difficult in the early stages, once I start writing, it all comes together and fills out and new ideas come. That’s my favorite part of the process!

Marketing is key in any industry – particularly in the competitive and rapidly-evolving world of publishing. What are some of your favorite ways to publicize your new books, and how big of a part does social media play in that?

 

I’ve always been an avid blogger, long before people used the social media term. I was all over MySpace when it was big, and now Twitter and Facebook. I love technology and connecting with people from all over the world! I make sure to always know the latest and greatest utilities and see if they are a good fit for what I do. I do stay with the biggest platforms, strive to build quality relationships, and don’t let myself get sidetracked with too much online stuff. I don’t want it to get in the way of my writing or crafting!

I know many publishers and authors are using blog tours to promote new titles in lieu of more traditional book tours and signings.  Do you prefer a digital tour, in-person events, or a mixture of both?

 

I love any kind of tour! My mission is to spread the word far and wide about Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing. The book is very meaningful to me and I’m excited to embrace any platform to share it!

I’m pleased to help you spread the word about your new novel, and thank you for your time.  I wish you continued success both personally and professionally, Kathy!

Warm regards,
Melody

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*Disclosure: I received an advance copy of Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing for review purposes.

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Webtastic! Some favorite sites…

Finding a great website can be like stumbling upon an unexpected treasure, and today I’m sharing a few of the sites and resources I treasure.  I’m including sites that cover a range of topics since my interests are rather varied, and hope some of them resonate with you, too.

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Artsy-Craftsy

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Cynthia Shaffer
http://cynthiashaffer.typepad.com/blog/

Cynthia is incredibly skilled at needle crafts (sewing, knitting, crochet) –  among other things – and just may be a creative genius.  Her blog and website are a real treat for us creative types!  Keep an eye out for her upcoming book, which will be out in early May. I got a sneak peek, and it’s gorgeous!

Craft Test Dummies
http://www.crafttestdummies.com/

Jenny Barnett Rohrs’ site is an incredible resource for crafters.  Not only does she review crafting products, she shares craft projects and hosts some killer giveaways!
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Writing
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Jane Friedman
http://janefriedman.com/

I follow Ms. Friedman on Twitter.  As the former publisher and editorial director of Writer’s Digest, she’s an incredible wealth of knowledge and is focused on the intersection of literature and media/technology.

Anne R. Allen
http://annerallen.blogspot.com/

Ms. Allen, a Central Coast writer, is also a blogger and her posts are interesting, informative, and thought provoking.

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Hilarious & SO Wrong!

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Cake Wrecks
http://cakewrecks.blogspot.com/

The Cake Wrecks tagline is “When professional cakes go horribly, hilariously wrong”, and some of these cakes have to be seen to be believed.  I’ve laughed until I’ve cried, and suspect you will, too!

Awkward Family Photos
http://awkwardfamilyphotos.com/

These photos are terrible and wonderful all at the same time.  This site is a great way to get more laughs in your day!

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Odds & Ends

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New Dress a Day
http://www.newdressaday.com/

The fabulous Marisa repurposes castoff clothing purchased for a song.  The transformations are fascinating!

Zen Habits
http://zenhabits.net/start/

Leo Babauta urges his readers to follow the advice of Thich Nhat Hanh.  “Smile, breath, and go slowly.”  A great site to visit if you think you might need to slow down, simplify, or pare down your clutter.

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Please feel free to post a comment and share a website you’re partial to – just keep it clean!  (wink)
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Warm regards,
Melody

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Let the Novel Rewriting Begin!

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As many of you know, I wrote a novel last November when I took part in National Novel Writing Month – also known as NaNoWriMo.  I wrote over 50,000 words in a month, and though I’m glad that I was able to get such a big chunk written, I’m nowhere near being done.  I’ve printed out my (very rough) first draft, hole-punched it, and put it into a binder.  Armed with a red pen, a highlighter and some repositionable flags, it’s time to begin phase two of my work.

Yep, I’m Nervous

I’m sure it’s just a mild case of the jitters because I’m facing the unknown, but this looming novel rewrite is a bit scary.  I’ve done plenty of rewriting in my life, but never on a novel.  For example, I revised the collection of illustrated short stories I created, but short stories are, well, shorter!  They’re self-contained, and though my stories are linked by the illustrations, they each stand alone.  Oh well, it’s time to summon my courage and forge on ahead.

What I’m Looking For

In this first run through I hope to find the “obviously wrongs” – things like missing words, wrong spellings (their/there/they’re) and awkward phrasings.  I also hope to identify any inconsistencies, implausibilities, and things that need more fleshing out and more detail.  I know there will be quite a bit of the latter, and welcome the chance to increase my word count because the publishing world is allegedly partial to works of approximately 75,000 words.

My Timeline and Goal

My goal is to finish rewriting this novel by the end of 2011 and start the query process in early 2012.  Sooner would be better, of course, but I know better than to submit work before it’s ready.  The industry research I’ve done in the last year relayed that message again and again.  Don’t query before your manuscript is actually complete (i.e. don’t query when you’re still writing your first draft!), and don’t count on an agent or editor to recognize your “diamond in the rough”, sign you, and then clean your work up for you.  Author Catherine Ryan Hyde stated that “neatness does count” in our interview earlier this month, and she’s right.  So I’ll devote ample time and effort to my story in hopes of seeing it on a bookstore’s shelf one day.

Note(s) to self:

Remember the wise words of Stephen Kaggwa.  ”Try and fail, but don’t fail to try.”
The words of Lao Tzu are also apropos.  “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
Oh, and don’t forget this gem by John Irving. “Half my life (as a writer) is an act of revision.”

Rewriting officially begins this week.  Wish me luck!

Warm regards,
Melody

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NaNoWriMo 2010: An Update & One More Tip…

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National Novel Writing Month is underway!  This yearly event that began on Monday the 1st has taken over the lives of many – including mine.  I’m seven days in, and have written 7,235 words so far.  I’m a bit behind, but will be writing like the wind today and hope to have a revised total of at least 11,669 words by bedtime – which would put me back on track.

It’s going to be a very busy month, between my full-time job, blogging, writing a novel, preparing for next month’s art journaling class, and more.  However, that’s exactly why NaNoWriMo is so important. All the assorted things in life that keep us so busy are also what can keep us from writing.

I have no illusions.  I don’t think I’ll have anything resembling a marketable novel when December 1st rolls around.  But I will have a lump of clay that I can continue to mold and refine.  Maybe it’ll become a “real novel” some day, but even if it doesn’t I’ll have the experience of writing a novel under my belt – quality time with one story and one set of characters for 30 days.  Because my first book project was a collection of short stories, this experience will be invaluable in helping me determine if I’m a novelist, a short story writer, a non-fiction writer, all three, or two of the three.

Before I sign off and get back to noveling, I want to share one last NaNoWriMo tip – an addition to my previous tips post.  If you’re participating this year and are writing on your computer, this one’s for you:

Make sure to save-save-save your work!

And I don’t just mean you should save your work often.  I mean you should have a “saving trinity” in place:

1.     Save frequently to your hard drive as you work
2.     Save your work to a thumb drive/flash drive after you’ve finished working on your novel for the day
3.     Email your novel file to yourself at the end of your daily writing session and save those emails

This “trinity” will keep you from losing your work, and possibly your mind.  I read horror stories of lost novel files before I started NaNoWriMo in 2007, and this three-pronged method has kept me well protected and has given me peace of mind.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some more writing to do!

Warm regards,
Melody

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Preparing for NaNoWriMo – Strategies for Embracing the Insanity

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Back in August I posted about National Novel Writing Month and officially stated my intent to participate.  The goal: a 50,000 word novel in 30 days during the month of November.  (And yes, it’s okay to write more than 50K)

Don’t worry, I’m not backing out!  November 1st is fast approaching, and I’m here to offer some tips and suggestions for those of you who are definitely going to participate, and for those of you who are on the fence.

Consider doing a practice run before NaNoWriMo starts.

A practice run will let you know approximately how much time you’re going to need to devote to writing each day.  50,000 words divided by 30 days = 1667 words per day.  It takes me approximately two hours to write those 1667 words, and that information is very important when it comes to mapping my time out and ensuring NaNoWriMo victory!

Plan on writing a minimum of 1667 words per day – and sqeeze some extra words in on weekends!

Getting a bit ahead will take some of the pressure off if you have to miss a day of writing.  Getting ahead early also helps prevent desperate cramming at the end of the month!

Grab a calendar, assess your month of November, and map your month out NOW.

Do you bake pumpkin pies from scratch for 50 of your closest friends the week of Thanksgiving?  You’ll need to take that into account when plotting your NaNoWriMo victory.  If you have to spend mass amounts of writing time baking, cooking, or traveling that week, you’ll want to be ahead in your word count before the holiday ever rolls around.  Alternately, consider skipping the shopping frenzy of Black Friday, and spend the weekend after Thanksgiving sequestered away from the masses – spending ideas instead of dollars!

Tell all your family and friends that you’re going to participate in NaNoWriMo.

It will help them understand why you’re so darn busy all month. Hopefully they’ll support you and cheer you on.  However, if they seem a bit disgruntled that you’re not as “available”, gently remind them that it’s only for one month.  That’s one of the great things about NaNoWriMo – it’s a finite period of time.  It’s simultaneously a marathon that needs preparation and endurance, and a sprint that will be over before you know it!

Telling family and friends also makes you a bit more accountable to your noveling goal.  Sure, you could quit part way through November (though I’d personally rather be covered in honey and tied to an anthill than admit defeat!) – but do you want to tell everyone you know that you’ve wimped out?  I think not.

Once you’ve started your novel, adopt a “never quit” attitude and keep moving forward no matter what.

Schedule the time to write, sit down, and do it.  The story may be drivel, the dialogue may be spastic, and you might rue the day you decided writing a novel was a good idea, but keep writing no matter what happens.  NaNoWriMo isn’t about effortlessly writing a beautiful, perfect novel.  It’s about sitting down and meeting a goal you’ve set for yourself and doing it with a bunch of other people that are crazy enough to take on a 50K/30 day challenge.  And, most importantly, it’s about turning you’re “I’d like to write a novel someday” into “I wrote a novel!”.  Writing requires you to develop your wordsmithing and “time in the writing chair” muscles, and NaNoWriMo is bootcamp for writing.  Embrace it, try to enjoy it, and gut it out.

Personally, I loved it!

For the record, my 2007 NaNoWriMo experience was fantastic!  I planned my month out, had buddies who also participated to compare my word count progress with, and moved along steadily all month.  When hubby and I spent Thanksgiving with his family I brought my laptop and politely excused myself after allowing an adequate amount of time for visiting.  (I wrote in a bedroom, a restaurant, and a car that weekend!)  The month required work and dedication, but I didn’t find it terribly hard and was only felled by writer’s block once.  Thankfully I was back on track the next day, and finished the month strong – met my word count goal and finished at 57,000-ish words with two days to spare.  I can’t wait for the adventure of NaNoWriMo 2010!

Please ask any questions you may have by leaving a comment on this post.  Or, just pop in with an “I’m going for it!” comment.  I’m hoping at least a few of you will be joining me…

Warm regards,
Melody

p.s. How do you like my new Camp NaNoWriMo shirt?!

p.p.s. Don’t forget Chris Baty’s book: No Plot? No Problem! Mr. Baty is the founder of NaNoWriMo and his book is both fun to read and informative!

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