Category Archives: National Novel Writing Month

Let the Novel Rewriting Begin!


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,

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NaNoWriMo Haiku


Novel in a month?
The words flew from my fingers
Victory is mine!

It was exhausting and was a grand exercise in time management, but NaNoWriMo was worth it.  Just don’t say anything about re-writing, okay?  Not just yet, anyway.  I need a week to bask in the glory of my accomplishment – and to catch up on my non-NaNoWriMo to-do list!

Friendly reminder: Today is the last day to enter the drawing for a $25 Visa gift card.  To enter, simply subscribe to my blog! (You must subscribe and confirm the subscription via an email that will come to you shortly after signing up)  The winner will be drawn tomorrow and announced on Thursday.  Good luck to all my present and soon-to-be subscribers!

Warm regards,

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NaNoWriMo 2010: An Update & One More Tip…


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,

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Preparing for NaNoWriMo – Strategies for Embracing the Insanity


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,

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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Self-Portrait Friday: 8/27/10

Happy Friday!




Today’s self-portrait shows a ring on my right hand, as well as detail shots of the ring.  Made of sterling silver, this ring was custom-made by an artist I found on Etsy.  (I actually ordered three or four things from this vendor – Kathryn Riechert) “Exuberant imperfection” is a phrase I borrowed from Chris Baty, the founder of National Novel Writing Month.  On page 32 of his book No Plot? No Problem! Mr. Baty first introduces the idea of exuberant imperfection.  To paraphrase, in order to eventually write a great novel, you have to write an enthusiastic but crappy novel first – a very rough draft.  Mr. Baty wisely points out that we can seldom do something well the first time we do it, and rather than focusing on the result, we should first focus on the doing – the trying.  The skill, refinement and attempts at perfection can come later.

What does all this have to do with me, and exactly why do I like this phrase enough to put it on a ring?  I guess it’s kind of like a motto or a two-word self-portrait.  In my mind, this phrase means that I’m enthusiastic and actively participating.  That I’m passionate about life, and would rather leap, try something new, get in over my head, and/or potentially stumble than play it safe.  I’ll be the first to admit that I’m far from perfect, and I know I’ll continue to make mistakes along the way, but I am proud that I’m excited about life, am seldom jaded, and that I continue to learn and grow.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.  Be sure to tune in Sunday when I introduce a new feature.  It will be the first installment in my Remarkable Women Series!

Warm regards,

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Calling All Aspiring Novelists!


Are you interested in writing a novel, but just haven’t gotten around to taking action and actually doing it?  If so, National Novel Writing Month is for you!

Held in November, National Novel Writing Month – also known as NaNoWriMo – is an ever-growing event, with tens of thousands participating each year.  (There were nearly 170,00 participants in 2009!) The goal?  To write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Impossible?  Certainly not.  Inadvisable? Only if your sense of adventure is dead and buried!  I met the goal of 50,000+ words when I participated in 2007, and you can succeed, too!  I will be participating in NaNoWriMo again this November, and I hope you’ll limber up your fingers, get your creative juices going, and join me.


The NaNoWriMo website ( is bursting at the seams – full of both information and inspiration.  Look around and you’ll learn about NaNoWriMo’s roots, that there are regional writing groups and get-togethers, and you’ll also find the forums that you can participate in or just read for your information.  The FAQs page is particularly helpful.  Another resource, if your interest is piqued, is a book by NaNoWriMo founder, Chris Baty.  No Plot?  No Problem! is a fun read for those of you contemplating joining in the fun, and is available both online and at bookstores.

So please – poke around the NaNoWriMo website and see if you can squeeze a 50,000 novel into your month of November.  I’ll be in the trenches, writing away, and would love some company!  I’ll post a few of my own NaNoWriMo tips as the event draws a bit closer. Please leave a comment on this post or send me a message through my contact page if you think you might give it a go…

Warm regards,

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The Exciting (and Challenging) World of Publishing!


In 2007 I was inspired to create 18 altered art illustrations, which I then wrote short stories for.  I wrote the collection of short stories during the month of November as part of National Novel Writing Month, though I didn’t write an actual novel (technically speaking).  I adhered to all the other rules though, and was elated when I completed my 18 stories – and exceeded the 50,000-word goal with a day or two to spare.

Next came the proofreading, re-writing, and polishing.  This process took quite a while, and I was lucky to have three people read my manuscript – extra pairs of eyes that helped weed out some of the missing words, extra words and other oddities I’d become blind to because I was too close to the project.  They also pointed out areas that needed fleshing out, clarification, and alternate wording.

Earlier this year I finished a final tweaking of the manuscript, pared my collection down from 18 stories to 16 stories, and began the arduous task of researching the publishing process.  I quickly realized that creating the artwork and writing the related short stories, as labor-intensive as it had been, had been the easy part!  I had a long road ahead of me – one filled with possible wrong turns and likely rejections.  It soon became clear that the road to getting a book published is not for the faint of heart.

I had many questions, so I dug in and started reading.  I started with the Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market, which was very informative.  It answered one of my first questions: Do I really need an agent?  The answer is yes, as many publishers won’t even look at your work unless an agent submits it.  Next I read Making the Perfect Pitch – How to Catch a Literary Agent’s Eye, which shed some light on how to submit a strong query letter to the aforementioned agent.  I also scoured the web for other relevant information.

Armed with that knowledge, I drafted a query and a synopsis, and started sending query packets out.  Each query is a bit different, as each agent wants to see something slightly different.  A query letter is the absolute minimum, and may be accompanied by a self-addressed stamped envelope, a synopsis, and a sample chapter or two.  I sent queries out to about twelve agents to start, and began the wait.  Could a request for a full manuscript review possibly come in amongst the rejections?

Somewhere along the line, between starting my research and mailing out my first queries, I read something that might’ve stopped me in my tracks: short story collections are particularly difficult to get published unless the author is very well known.  And while I’ll continue to work towards my goal of seeing this short story collection published, that information is key. It reminds me, as the rejections keep coming in, that this is a particularly difficult project to get representation for and that I’ve got to be persistent.

It’s also inspired me to change my battle plan.  It occurred to me that I might need to successfully publish another book (or two) before this book is ever published, so I’m moving on to the next manuscript.  I’ll be participating in National Novel Writing Month again this November, and will begin the process again.  Write, revise, query.  Hopefully this new manuscript can pave the way for the first one – if it hasn’t already been picked up by then!

As of this posting I’ve submitted queries to 25 literary agents, and have gotten 17 definitive no’s.  So I’ll keep chipping away by querying, honing my writing skills, and will be busily writing a novel in November.  As I said before, the road to getting a book published is not for the faint of heart.  However, I’ve chosen this road and will follow it to the end…

Warm regards,

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Welcome to my blog and website!


For those of you who don’t know me personally, my name is Melody M. Nuñez.  I’m a writer and an artist, and am very excited about my new blog.  My blog will be focused on writing, art, and life in general, as my tagline says.  My future posts will likely include the following – and more!

  • Updates on my attempt to find a literary agent for my collection of illustrated short stories, and posts on the twisty-turny road that leads to getting a book published
  • New photographic images
  • Preparation for and participation in National Novel Writing month this November (Yep, I will write a 50,000 word novel in one month!)
  • Photos of new collages or mixed-media projects I complete, some with before and after photos
  • New articles and creative writing (including haiku!)
  • Self-portraits (I will be participating in self-portrait Friday, posting new images every other Friday)
  • Posts on the odds and ends in my life – books, travel, walking half marathons, movies, baking (I will include photos & recipes), particularly good meals, volunteerism/charitable opportunities, my pet rabbits (Cypress & Pinto), and anything else that strikes my fancy…

I hope you’ll subscribe to my blog.  You may subscribe now by using the feature on the upper right side of this main blog page, or on the separate subscribe page accessed from the menu at the top.  Also, please invite your friends and family to subscribe, too, if you think they might be interested.  The more the merrier!

Before I sign off, I’d like to publicly thank my wonderful husband, José B. Nuñez, for all his help with the renovation of my website, and with the launch of this blog.  He put in an incredible amount of time and effort, and I’m beyond appreciative.  I’m blessed to have such a helpful, talented, and supportive husband. Thank you, José!

Thank you for stopping by, everyone, and please come back soon!  My next post will appear on Tuesday…

Warm regards,

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