This week’s writing challenge

It’s Sunday afternoon. I have music playing in the background, one of those 2-Hours Epic Music Mixes on Youtube. Thor is snoring next to me, back paw draped over my left wrist. I stare at the computer screen, reading and re-reading scenes.

I spent several months revising key plot points, adding layers of story, rewriting passive sentences and deleting unnecessary action and description. I’m in phase 2 now, checking continuity, timing and flow, adding in missing scenes and weaving in additional information.

As I’m finishing chapters, I’m keeping a close eye on my word count. I cut so much fluff and filler from my novel it’s much too short now. It needs to be 55K to be a novel according to my editor. But online articles suggest the standard for mystery novels is between 70K and 90K. Oh dear.

I need over 6,500 words to meet the 55K word count. And over 26K words to meet the standard for a mystery novel. I have no idea how to add that much into the story and make each word count. Without adding in all the fluff and filler I cut before.

Sadly, here’s nothing more I can do today. It looks like I have homework for the week!


Have you ever been under your required word count? What did you do to meet it?

Happy Anniversary

I can hardly believe it’s been a year. A year dedicated to an amazing journey. A year since I joined NaNoWriMo. An entire year spent writing a book. It still seems crazy to me. And so exciting.

I set a goal of completing the novel within a year. And even though its not done yet, its very close. I completed the latest draft yesterday. My Hubby is going to take a quick look at it and then I’ll send it over to my group of reviewers for their feedback. The end is near, and I’m only off schedule by a few months.

And while people are reviewing the novel?

I have plans; lots of plans. I need to promote it. Post more about the novel on social media, maybe get a website going. And the drive to keep writing is strong. I’m going to work on a short story or two before delving into the second novel.

Yes, a second novel. I already have ideas perculating in my head. I’ve caught the writing bug and I’m never letting go.

So here’s to the journey over the past year, the journey now, and to the journey yet to come. Happy Anniversary.


A tranquil breeze blows,
the trees gently sway
and the green water caresses the shore.
A cottage sits on a hill far away
still possessing the scars of days of yore.
The bullfrogs croak and the birds sing their songs
while perched on the branches of a young tree.
Here you could forget all your rights and wrongs
like a bird, soaring high and free.

The luscious forest and bay do surround
the peaceful property like a crown.
The cottage is supported by a mound
that meets the water after it slopes down.

Where the hill meets the water a dock sleeps,
growing beside it, an old willow weeps.

Slow and Steady

My novel is motoring along, and I’m well into draft three. While I am writing, I am researching a variety of items for the novel, as well as how to make the change to a full-time career in writing.

But what type of writing career do I want?

One option is to work for an organization or as a freelance writer. I don’t have any formal education and I don’t have the opportunity to get the credentials I need. So working for an organization at this point may not be possible. But working as a freelance writer might be. Some articles online suggest guest blogging, and submitting articles to online newsletters and journals. This sounds like a great option. But I need to determine what to write about and who to submit them to. What is my area of expertise? And do I really want to write articles? It’s not something I thought about doing.

I enjoy writing fiction the most. A career writing novels, short stories and poems may suit me best. One of my friends told me about some short story contests. I haven’t written a short story in a long time but it piqued my interest. Not for the prize money (although that would be a nice bonus) but for the opportunity to build my portfolio and get my name out in the community. And a lot of the research I have done so far recommends having work published already before publishing a novel. It helps if you already have your name out in the community.

But how am I going to fit writing short stories into my already full schedule without sacrificing family time, novel writing time or personal time?

Option 1: I finish writing my novel. I write some short stories and enter some contests. I get some of those published before publishing my novel. The downside is that it will take longer than I want it to. But the upside is that I won’t burn myself out.

Option 2: I put my novel on hold. I participate in NaNoWriMo, coming up in November, and write short stories. Then I enter some contests in the New Year. When I have a few stories out there I finish working on my novel and publish it. The downside to this option is that it will take even longer and I could lose momentum with my novel.

Option three: I split my weekends between my various writing projects. Saturday mornings I work on my novel. Sunday mornings I write my blog posts and work on short stories. It won’t take quite as long to do (maybe just a few months more) but I won’t lose momentum with my novel and I’ll still be able to work on my other projects. The downside is that my attention will be split on multiple projects.

It’s something I’m going to have to think more about. I have a nasty habit of committing to far too many projects. Focusing on one project at a time may be the wiser move and the best option in the long run. After all, slow and steady wins the race.

Of Writing and Weekends

I finished the first draft of my novel a month and three weeks ahead of my deadline. Yay! It was such a major accomplishment and I was incredibly happy. I gave myself this past weekend off in celebration. A short break in between drafts as a reward. But all I wanted to do was write. Because I’ve gotten into a groove and as much as there are days when the words fail to spill forth and I get frustrated, I love it. Absolutely, love it. Its all I want to do. And I’ve been writing so long that it feels really weird not to write on the weekend.

So its back in the saddle this upcoming weekend. We’re heading up to the family trailer for three days and the laptop is tagging along. I’m so excited, Friday can’t come soon enough.

Plotting and Planning

On one of my lunch hours last week I went for a walk. Instead of going down to the river like I normally do in the summer, I walked the opposite direction, across the canal and into the Glebe (I work right next to the beautiful Ottawa Canal). Right at the corner by my work is the Sunnyside Branch of the Ottawa Public Library. I really needed to walk that day so I made a mental note to go the next day. And I did. I walked into the library, marched straight over to the writing section and started looking up books on writing. Specifically tips on writing mystery novels. I found several books, plopped down into a comfy sofa chair and skimmed through a few. I narrowed it down to the two books I have now.

The first book is giving me all sorts of great tips on writing a mystery novel. Of course it’s caused me a great deal of additional work for the book but the extra work will be worth it. I wonder if the second book will hold such jewels.

Firstly, I created a schedule for the book. The schedule has me publishing in April, which is a lot later than I had originally wanted. But I also don’t want to rush the very first book. So six months to write the book and six months to go through the various edits, have others read the manuscript and provide feedback, and additional edits. It will also give me time to research publishing and marketing. I’m leaning towards self-publishing but from what I’m learning its quite hard and time consuming.

Secondly, I created a stepsheet. This is what the author calls the plot outline. I set it up in excel, divided it by Act, then Chapter and then broke it down into scenes, high level plot and plot details. I’ve also included a column for notes for when I start the editing phase. I’ve entered some notes already where I think I may want to add/revise in the first editing phase.

I’ve also started taking a hard look at the characters, and their names. I realized during my reading that the last name of my main male character in the novel is used in four other mystery novel series. Not good. So I have a short list of names for him and I’m thinking of polling on my blog to see what people think the last name should be. It may also be a great promotional tool for the book. There are a few other names to consider and the title of the book.

And lastly, an update on the word count total. I’m up to 41, 545 words. Awesome! I have two more months of writing scheduled and 9 chapters left to write. The first draft is getting close to being done. And if I don’t reach my final word count goal with the first draft, I’ll have the chance to add more to the novel in the editing phase. As long as I’m around 60,000 words or higher by the time I publish it I’ll be happy.

Of Writing and Word Counts

I hit a huge milestone this past weekend. I reached 30, 000 words for my novel which is the half way mark for the final word count total I’m aiming for. Ok, so my word count total right now is 30, 200 words but still, I’m now at part 2 of 5 of my novel. Parts 3 and 4 being editing and part 5 publishing. Its really exciting considering this is the farthest I’ve ever gotten. I started writing a novel before but got so into the weeds and changed the characters and the background so much that it never went anywhere. Fifteen years of writing and its still barely a toddler.

So when I read a blog post about Camp NaNoWriMo I jumped on it. I put my first novel aside and started fresh. No plot at all just three character ideas which morphed and grew and turned into a novel. Did I mentioned how excited I am? So the grand plan is to spend the next three months writing the last 30, 000 words. I’m thinking of joining Camp NaNoWriMo for July and aiming for 15,000 words. If I do that and succeed I’ll reach 60,000 words quite nicely by the end of September. October, November and December are reserved for editing. I’m hoping to publish it at the end of the year/beginning of 2015 but that all depends on how long the editing process takes.

During the editing process, at the end of part 4, I was thinking of having two or three brave souls read the novel and critique it for me. I don’t mean brave as in I think my novel is horribly written but because I think it takes a lot of courage to provide honest constructive criticism, especially to someone you know. So the request for reviewers will go on this blog and Facebook when its time and I’ll take the first volunteers.

In the meantime I’ll be writing, updating Facebook on the word count progress (and maybe this blog too), and reading as much as I can. If you know of any great mystery novels or writers I should check out let me know. Same goes for any articles on writing or editing novels. 

If you have ever aspired to write a story or a novel or a poem or anything at all, I encourage you to check out Camp NaNoWriMo in July. Who knows, you may end up writing a novel!