Is Nanowrimo a legitimate path to becoming a published novelist?

I’m not participating in Nanowrimo this year (I’m too deeply entrenched in revisions of Restless Spirits 2), but I’ve done it enough times to know that this is a week during which many of you who are participating might be tempted to call it quits. So I thought a word of encouragement might be in order.

There seem to be two types of writers who take part in Nano (not counting the established pros who continue to participate each year for a myriad of reasons–okay, so there are three types; but I’m concentrating on the first two): those who never expect to get published and are just doing it for the challenge of writing a novel in  30 days, and those who dream of becoming a published novelist someday.

It’s this latter group to whom I’m mainly speaking. Now, among this group are those who plan to self-publish, and that’s great, provided you actually go through the work of editing and revising and polishing your manuscript and don’t just rush to throw your November word-vomit up on Kindle and Createspace as soon as humanly possible.

But there are also those who still dream of doing it the old-fashioned way: getting an agent, having a publisher actually think your work is good enough for them to take a chance on, etc. And if you’re in this group, you might be wondering if Nanowrimo is a legitimate pathway to this goal.

I want you to know that it definitely can be.

It’s possible that this novel you are working on right now won’t ever be published. It’s possible that it shouldn’t be. That it’s merely practice — part of the 10,000 hours you need to put in in order to actually become good at a thing.

But it’s also entirely possible that it will be. Maybe soon. Maybe someday. Probably, you’re not done with it at the end of November. It needs work. It needs to go through feedback and revision and more feedback and more revision and possibly even more of both of these things until it’s ready. It could be an overnight success or it could take years. But if it’s good — if you know, deep down in your gut, that this novel has potential, and people you trust to be honest with you read it and corroborate what your gut is telling you — it’s worth sticking with it.

Restless Spirits is my first traditionally published novel. I wrote it during Nanowrimo in 2008. I spent another year revising it before publishing it in blog form in 2009, and then revised it again before self-publishing it in 2011. After it was discovered and acquired by Vinspire last year, of course it went through even more revisions. So it was a long, long road that stretched out over eight years before that little Nano novel found it’s way to traditional publication.

And I’m not the only one with a story like that.

The week my book launched, I hosted a launch party on Facebook where I invited three other authors to take over for a short time to promote their own books. As each of those authors talked about how their books came to be, a theme quickly became evident: every traditionally-published book featured that night began its life during Nanowrimo. Similarly, every single one took a few years to go from Nano-draft to actual published book.

I realize that the “took a few years” part might sound discouraging, but the truth is, none of us would have been there that night with books to promote if we hadn’t participated in Nanowrimo and stuck it out to the finish.

Of course, who knows? Your book could be an overnight success. Realistically speaking, it probably won’t be; but stranger things have happened. But whether it is or whether it takes years to get there, one fact remains: finishing Nanowrimo–finishing the work you started this month–is the first step on the journey.

So push through that Week 4 slump, and don’t let Turkey Day or the Gilmore Girls revival derail you. You’ll be glad you did. Someday, you might be very glad indeed.

PS – Click here for more Nanowrimo success stories!

Dominion now available in paperback PLUS a new e-book!

Hey guys! Dominion of the Damned version 2.0 is now available in trade paperback! Currently you can get it directly from Createspace or order it from Amazon. Coming soon to BN.com and other places actual paper books are sold. Eventually I’ll add info here on the site on how to get a signed copy, but if you’d like one in the meantime, e-mail me and we’ll get it worked out.

Here it is in the real world! It’s so pretty . . .

 

Look what came in the mail today! Soon… #bookstagram

A photo posted by Author Jean Marie Bauhaus (@jmbauhaus) on Jun 9, 2016 at 3:48pm PDT

 

And that’s not all! You also get the pocket fisherman I also just released a new e-book! Weather Witch is actually the Cellar Witch story regular blog readers may recall me working on a while back (and that Patreon supporters already got to read months ago — and received a free copy of the e-book version). It’s currently available exclusively for Kindle readers and is free to borrow for Kindle Unlimited and Prime members. Only $1.99 to buy.

Finally, be sure to join me tomorrow (that’s Wednesday, June 15th) at 5PM CST on Facebook for my Author Takeover event! I’ll be giving away e-copies of both Weather Witch and Dominion and also handing out special discount codes for the paperback version of Dominion. The other authors will also be doing fun giveaways, so don’t miss it!

FB-Author-Takeover

Welcome To My New Digs.

I said I was going to do it, and I finally did it. I scuttled my author blog, relocated to WordPress.com, and set up a sort-of-static author website instead.

Except, isn’t this a blog right here?

Well, no, not exactly. This is a “news and announcements” page, where I intend to post, er, news and announcements pertaining to my past and future fiction and other authorial activities. This may or may not include progress updates once I start making headway on my novel again.

So if you want to be sure you don’t miss anything pertaining to my books, fiction and related activities, you should follow this feed. If you only want to know the big news, like when I’m releasing a new book (and also be first in line to beta read, get advanced reading copies, and other hardcore-fan-only goodies), then you should sign up to my mailing list.

And if you want to keep up with my actual blogging activity, you have two options: my personal blog, which is, you guessed it, personal — I talk about life in general, faith, crafting and whatever strikes my fancy — and my Publishing School blog, where I post educational articles about writing and self-publishing.

And of course if you’d rather take me in smaller doses, you can follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook, where I probably won’t add you as a friend if I don’t know you/know how you know me, but the majority of my posts there are public, so you can just follow me and see everything relevant in your feed.

Oh, and I also have a YouTube vlog now, but I’ll introduce that in another post.

So that’s the current state of my online nation. How do you like the new author site? I love feedback, so have a look around and tell me what you think!

The Doctrine of the Doers—5 Principles of Achievement

Another much-needed dose of motivation from Kristen Lamb.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Same can be said about writing a book... Same can be said about writing a book…

Success has a LOT of common denominators. Whether we want to be an excellent parent, run a thriving business, earn a promotion, have great friendships, become published, lose weight, one day have enough money to build a secret lab in the side of a mountain…? There are fundamentals we are wise to understand and apply.

Thus today, we are going to talk about 5 Principles of Achievement or The Doctrine of the Doers because I dig alliteration 😀 .

Principle #1—Understand What We are Doing is HARD

Pros make stuff look easy. I can listen to Donald Trump ten minutes and believe I, too, could be a financial genius. When I was four, I recall being allowed to watch Wonder Woman and she did these amazing handsprings. Well, pshaw! I totally could do that…or not.

And my cousin found me semi-conscious and…

View original post 1,340 more words

Have a Happy Yam Sham!

 

It has been a busy, busy couple of weeks. And not even thanks to NaNoWriMo, which I pretty much gave up all hope of winning midway through last week. There have been a lot of errands to run, and freelance gigs to get done, and stuff needing done around the house. Hopefully, next week we’ll get back to sanity and a normal blogging schedule.

In the meantime, I wanted to pop in and say, Happy Thanksgiving! I have much to be thankful for this year. Well, I do every year, truth be told; but compared to where we were at this point in time last year, this year has been much more gracious to us. This year we’ve witnessed God’s provision in several areas, not the least of which has been health and finances. It hasn’t been a year without challenges, but it’s also included a lot of awesome, for which I am incredibly grateful.

Here’s wishing a lovely “ritual sacrifice with pie” day to you and yours.

Fire bad. Tree pretty.

zNaNoWriMo Participant 2014This week did not go as planned. Matt and I ran all over town  running errands and stocking up on winter supplies. Wednesday was supposed to involve a quick morning run to Sprouts to stock up on produce and bulk dry goods, after which I was going to catch up on writing and freelance work. But just before we left, the insurance adjuster FINALLY returned our call (did I mention here that we were involved in an accident last week?).

We spent probably 45 minutes on the phone with him, asking and answering questions about our claim, and then he approved us for a rental car, so we had to go pick that up, which ate up another hour or so. By the time we finally made it to Sprouts it was noon already. Tuesday and Thursday were even more hectic. The upshot of which is, I haven’t added a single word to my NaNoWriMo word count since Monday.

This introverted homebody is completely worn out. But at least we’re ready if the winter weather that’s expected to hit this weekend turns into a big deal. Today was all about getting caught up on my freelancing so I don’t have to work through the weekend, so it hasn’t exactly been restful. My new plan is to spend Saturday vegging out and recharging my brain, and then Sunday, while Matt is distracted with football, I will make a valiant effort to catch up on my word count before deciding whether to throw in the towel on trying to win ‘WriMo this year. Unless ice knocks out our power, in which case my chances are pretty much screwed. But at least we’ll be well fed and we won’t freeze to death.

Here’s hoping next week is much calmer.

How the Satanic Panic Almost Ruined Halloween

http://villains.wikia.com/wiki/Junie_HarperOne of our favorite things to watch this time of year is the “Hilloween” episode of King of the Hill. In this episode, traditional Halloween-related activities come under assault from hyper-conservative religious (and litigious) types who assert that Halloween is a satanic holiday. Soon, satanic panic pervades the whole town and Halloween is called off and trick-or-treating is banned. Children are instead sent to the “Hallelujah House,” where they’re allowed to wear costumes as long as they’re “Christian” in nature and are subjected to a spook house display of real-life “horrors” like teen pregnancy before being thoroughly evangelized.

Refusing to bow down to the hysteria, Hank Hill and friends protest by marching through town in their Halloween costumes, violating the trick-or-treat ban and the citywide curfew and in the process reminding everybody what Halloween’s really all about in our culture: candy and good, clean, innocent fun. Pretty soon, the whole town is marching with them, and they march right up to the Hallelujah House to collect their children and give them a proper Halloween.

Before I go any further, I want to point out that one of the things I appreciate about this episode is that it’s not presented as “those crazy Christians” vs. more level-headed non-believers. Anyone who watched this show with any regularity would know that Hank Hill and company are church-going Methodists with a love of God, Country and Texas. So it’s more like ONE overzealous Christian against a whole town of Christians who are usually more level-headed but nevertheless get caught up in the hysteria.

Anyone born after, say, 1985 might watch this episode and find it funny because it seems so absurd and over the top. But to anyone who grew up in the Bible Belt and lived through the Satanic Panic of the 1980s, it’s funny because it’s true.

Halloween took a weird, dark turn during the ‘80s. When I was a little kid during most of the ‘70s and the very early ‘80s, Halloween was one of the best times of the year. My neighborhood at the time was a true community, with a volunteer fire house that acted as a meeting place and a Ladies’ Auxiliary that organized neighborhood events. One of those events was an annual Halloween party at the firehouse. They set up a spook house for the older kids, and had costume contests and candy for the younger kids. Once it was over, everybody went trick-or-treating through the neighborhood. It was safe, and fun, and nobody gave a single thought to Satan.

Then one year my mom decided we weren’t putting up any Halloween decorations. Why? Because Satan. By this point, the county had installed a government-run fire department a few miles from our neighborhood, and the volunteer firehouse had been shut down and the Ladies’ Auxiliary disbanded, so the yearly parties were already a thing of the past. But trick-or-treating was still a big deal, so thankfully our mom backed down from forbidding us to dress up or trick-or-treat. She was one of the only mom’s who did, though. I had a hard time finding friends to go out with me on Halloween night that year because they were all being taken to “Hallelujah parties” at their churches.

This went on for a number of years. My mom continued to forbid us to put out Halloween decorations, although she still let us dress up and have our fun. I sat through a lot of sermons and lectures from youth group pastors about the evil origins of Halloween. At some point, nights out trick-or-treating started to end with a trip to the emergency room to get our candy x-rayed to make sure it didn’t contain needles or razor blades. Giving out baked goods or anything unwrapped or homemade became verboten because they might be laced with poison. We made sure to keep our black lab put up because Satanists apparently loved to sacrifice animals with black fur. Walking around the neighborhood to trick-or-treat became deemed unsafe because we were all targets for satanic kidnappers, so we started seeing station-wagons and minivans full of kids being shuttled from house to house.

 

https://i2.wp.com/img.youtube.com/vi/Ce_rXR3tdqQ/0.jpg
Somehow, this…

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/93/Francisco_de_Goya_y_Lucientes_-_Witches%27_Sabbath_-_WGA10007.jpg
… was supposed to be a gateway to this. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Through it all, I remained stubborn like Hank Hill. I refused to stop trick-or-treating or dressing up. For me, Halloween was about dress-up and make-believe and fun, safe scares and getting a sugar high. I failed to see how any of that glorified Satan. I still do.

I’m happy to see that, for the most part, all of the fear around Halloween has abated, and the holiday is a lot more like what it was when I was a kid. I still hear grumblings from time to time about Satan and Druids and pagan origins — but I also hear that stuff about modern Christmas and Easter traditions — and one local mega-church has a big-budget version of Junie Harper’s Hallelujah House that draws a big crowd every year.

But overall, it seems like everyone’s relaxed, and Halloween is more popular than ever. I drive around town and see churches advertising pumpkin patches and trunk-or-treat events. Walking through my neighborhood, I see plenty of houses and yards that have been spookified for the occasion. Even my mom has her grandkids and great-grandkids out for hot dogs and trick-or-treating every year.

Matt and I have our own Halloween traditions, which involve carving pumpkins, munching on popcorn and candy and watching John Carpenter movies in between handing out candy to trick-or-treaters. And you can bet our house is covered in Halloween decorations (although we still need to do something with the front porch).

What about you guys? Is Halloween one of your favorite holidays, or do you have reservations about it? Are you old enough to remember the Satanic Panic, and did it ruin your Halloweens, too? Let’s hear about it in the comments.

And if you haven’t seen it, try to spare 25 minutes or so to watch “Hilloween.” You’ll be glad you did.

 

Book sale aftermath and killing a significant number of darlings for the greater good.

So the big October sale is over and everything is back to regular price. It didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, but it still gave me a boost in sales, and I gave away a respectable number of books that will hopefully translate to some loyal readers down the road.

One thing I learned is that putting everything on sale to coincide with my book launch was not a good idea. It drew attention away from the new book, which is the opposite of what you want to happen during a book launch week. So… won’t be doing that again.

As for my new WIP, Ghost of a Chance, this morning I trashed all but the first two scenes. The scenes I deleted were meandering all over the place, so I’m going to chalk that up as a discovery draft and example of why I’m not a good pantser. Now I’ve got a partial outline and a better idea of where I’m going and what needs to happen to get there.

If this were NaNoWriMo, I’d have just made some notes about what needed to happen and kept going from there as if I’d already written it that way, and waited until I finished the draft to go back and redo the beginning. But since I’m not (yet) racing to meet a crazy word quota by a certain deadline, going back and writing the correct scenes seemed more likely make the rest of the story flow better.

I will be attempting Nano this year, albeit I’ll be cheating by working on this WIP. I’m going to do my ever-lovin’ best to finish the first draft by the end of November, but a lot depends on my freelancing schedule and workload, so it’s hard to say how that will go. I wanted to try something new in an effort to carve more time out of my schedule for working on the draft. My plan was to keep the little laptop I write on by my bed, and read over what I wrote that day before I turn out my light, and then make myself wake up and start writing in bed when my husband gets up in the morning. But then this morning, which was supposed to be day one of this new endeavor, he woke up WAY too dang early, and I fell back to sleep before I could even remember that I was supposed to write. Then when he came in and woke me up it was time for us to do our morning Bible study together. So… maybe I’ll have better luck tomorrow morning.

Nanowrimo participant 2014

If you’re planning to do Nano this year, Kristen Lamb’s blog has several excellent posts on how to do well in that challenge. This post in particular is a must-read for anyone taking on creative endeavors in general.

And now I’m going to join my husband in an off-schedule weeknight cheat night, because the weekend was too short and we have way to much pumpkin and Halloween-related goodies and entertainment options that need to be consumed, and we were both really craving some pumpkin ale (as I write this I’m sipping on a positively delightful Red Hook pumpkin porter). I’m sure I’m going to regret this tomorrow.

Are you doing Nanowrimo this year? Are you playing by the rules or are you going to be a rebel? Let’s talk about your Nano plans in the comments!

Oh! And if you’d like to read occasional excerpts from the WIP, I’ll be posting them on Ello. Be sure to friend me if you’re there already. If not, I’ve got two invitations and nobody to give them to, so holler in the comments if you’d like one.

On coping with fear. And zombies.

I was planning to write something this week about clowns and why they’re so dang disturbing; but the truth is, I’m too distracted by real-life horrors this week to be much into the fun kind.

Yesterday, Matt and I learned of the passing of a Facebook friend, who was killed in a motor scooter accident. Apart from making us both really sad, it’s also made me hyper-aware of my own mortality and how there are no guarantees that we’ll reach old age. This is coming at a time when I’ve already been managing a certain amount of anxiety about the state of the world, which seems to be getting scarier by the minute.

The thing about living in Oklahoma is that all of the scariest threats seem far away. We’ve always felt insulated by virtue of the fact that we’re well inland and we’re a state that not many people outside of Oklahoma care about or even give much thought to. Of course, we have tornadoes, and those are scary, but that type of weather doesn’t occur here all year long. Tulsa has its fair share of violent crime, but we take reasonable precautions to help ensure that we won’t become victims. But when we watch things like terrorism and deadly epidemics on the news, we feel horrible for the people who are living with it, but also thankful that it’s all so far away an not part of our daily lives.

Except that these things have started to encroach on our own back yard. Recently, down in Moore, only about two hours away, a woman was beheaded by a recent convert to Islam. And now Ebola is starting to make the rounds down in Dallas, only a six-hour drive from here. And a 30-minute flight, which seems much more significant in light of the fact that the second nurse who’s been diagnosed with Ebola took a flight from Cleveland back to Dallas the day before she began showing symptoms. Dallas is a hub through which at least half of the flights from the Tulsa International Airport pass through, so there’s a high probability that there were people bound for Tulsa on that plane with her.

I’m not trying to scare-monger. My point is that these are anxiety-inducing times we live in, especially if you have an over-active imagination, as most writers tend to have. It’s important to have a way to deal with that anxiety and channel it in a healthy direction instead of becoming paralyzed with fear. One way I deal with it is to turn my focus to make-believe horrors. It’s much more fun to think about how I’d survive a zombie uprising than to think about how to avoid catching scary contagious diseases that make you bleed out of your face-holes.

Zombie plan
(via Infocult)

Of course, as a person of faith, the primary way I deal is to give it all to God. After confessing my fears and meditating on the promises of scripture, my anxiety invariably gives way to peace. But it’s easy to forget to do that, and to get wrapped up in the moment and fixated on what I could be doing to mitigate perceived threats. It’s also easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless in these moments. Ultimately, though, I trust that my life and the lives of those I love are in God’s hands, and that I don’t need to be afraid.

What about you, dear reader? What’s pushing your anxiety buttons lately? How do you manage anxiety and fear? Do you have a zombie plan? Let’s talk about it in the comments.