Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

Happy NanoWrimo

Hello writers, do you know what today is? It’s November first which means, it’s National Novel Writing Month. It’s your chance to write 50,000 words in thirty days. I’m not participating this year but I am currently editing my young adult novel that I began writing two years ago during Nanowrimo. My story goes like this; I was in the midst of writing a middle-grade fantasy novel. I had it completely outlined. The characters were in place, settings were created and ending was known, when I received a challenge from my sister-in-law (who also happens to be my writer bff). She had recently decided that she wanted to get back into writing and thought Nanowrimo was exactly what she needed to get her fingers typing. But, she wanted someone to do it with her.
I kicked the idea around for a few days but knew I wasn’t going to use my wip (The middle-grade fantasy) because that would sort of be cheating. Ironically the night before November first I had a crazy dream. As I was writing the details of the dream into my journal, it hit me. Use this dream to base a new novel on. And so, my young adult novel was born. I don’t think I achieved the fifty thousand by the end of the month but I did finish a novel which I’m super excited about. Yes, it’s two years later and I’m just now getting it ready to query. It was the first novel I wrote organically. I let it evolve naturally and the result was better than I could imagine.
My dream inspired the novel, but I could have never dreamt of what it would become. I just hope that an agent likes it as much as I do, which is why I am taking as long as needed to get it as close to perfect as possible. Without, the challenge from my sister-in-law or Nanowrimo, this novel wouldn’t exist which is why I say, “Go for it!”
Ten tips to help you with Nanowrimo
1. Just start writing. Don’t worry if you think it’s junk. Get the words on the paper (or keyboard)
2. Put a motivating quote in front of you each day.
3. Let everything around you inspire you. Did you notice someone in the grocery store that would be great for a character? (Perhaps the teenager checking you out.)
4. If you aim for seventeen hundred words a day, you will meet your goal.
5. Surf the web for others who are also participating. It’s great to have a cheering section.
6. Read about Nanowrimo success stories. Every time you feel like quitting, remind yourself it worked for someone else.
7. Keep repeating this sentence- By the end of this month I will have written a novel.
8. Crank up the music. Music helps you get into the groove and may spark an idea.
9. Listen to the small voices inside your head; they are your characters dictating the story to you.
10. Search for your congratulatory gift to yourself and when you complete Nanowrimo, go buy it.

Good Luck everyone! Leave me a comment telling us whether or not you’re participating. If you’re this year, have you ever?

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Interview with Helene Boudreau: Author of Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings

Hi Hélène, thank you so much for agreeing to participate in my first ever blog interview. I’d like to start by introducing you to my readers. Hélène Boudreau is the author of Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings. She writes fiction and non-fiction for kids and lives in landlocked Ontario, Canada but spends summers at her seaside childhood home on the Atlantic Ocean.

Hélène’s book was just launched on December 1st and is now available everywhere books are sold.

Okay Hélène, let the interview begin.

Can you tell us a little about Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings?

Thanks so much for having me! Here’s the description from the back of the book:
First zit. First crush. First…mermaid’s tail?
If Jade hadn’t been so clueless, she might have seen it coming. But really, who expects to get into a relaxing bathtub after a stressful day of shopping for tankinis and come out with scales and a tail?
Most. Embarassing. Moment. Ever.
Jade soon discovers she inherited her mermaid tendencies from her mom. But this revelation raises a serious question: if Mom was a mermaid, how did she drown?
Jade is determined to find out. But how does a plus-sized, aqua-phobic, mer-girl go about doing that, exactly? And how will Jade ever be able to explain her secret to her best friend Cori, and her crush, Luke?
This summer is about to get a lot more interesting…

What inspired the idea for the book?

Growing up, my dad used to take us for boat rides from the Atlantic Ocean, through a canal, and into the fresh water lakes of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. We had to get through a set of boat locks en route and I often wondered if the purple jellyfish in the ocean knew about the white jellyfish in the lake. It amazed me that two totally different underwater worlds could be separated by just a mile-long canal. That was the inspiration for the mer-world in this book.

The main character, Jade, came from conversations I had with my daughters after reading Mélanie Watt’s picture book ‘Scaredy Squirrel’. The book is about a neurotic squirrel who’s afraid of everything. We were getting a bit silly, talking about birds that were afraid of flying or fish that were afraid of swimming; which led to the idea of an aqua-phobic mer-girl. It just seemed like such a ridiculous idea that I just had to see where it led. Little did I know; it would lead to this book!

How long did it take you to write the book?

I wrote the story over two National Novel Writing Months (NaNoWriMo) as a matter of fact. The first time (in Nov ’07) I wrote about 30, 000 words. The second time (in Nov ’08) I finished it and began revising. I kept on revising until I signed with my agent in June ’09 and until I signed with my publisher in Oct ’09 and then revised some more until it finally went to press in August ’10. So, in total, I think it was close to a three year process.

I’m always curious about other writer’s journeys to publication. Can you tell us how long you spent querying? Did you receive immediate interest or did it take a while for an agent to request your manuscript?

I began querying agents with this project in March of ’09 but that was after spending a full ten months querying another project with no success. By the time I signed with my agent, Lauren MacLeod of the Strothman Agency in June ’09, I had sent out about 113 queries (you can see my query dissected on the Guide to Literary Agents blog)over a twelve month period. Once Lauren started submitting my book to publishers it was surprisingly quick (to me!); it took only about six weeks until we had an offer from Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky.

I was so used to waiting that it seemed like a blink of an eye!

What genre is your book?

I’d describe it as a light-hearted contemporary fantasy. With a dash of Epsom salt.

Do you have any other books in the works?

The second volume of my chapter book series Red Dune Adventures / Nimbus Publishing will be published in spring/ 2011. It’s called Water Hazard and it’s an eco-adventure mystery for 6-9 year olds. I also have a picture book coming out with Candlewick in 2013 but that’s still in the early stages.

What is your favorite time to write?

I have two little chicklets, 7 and 9 years-old, and you would think my best writing time would be when they’re at school but it’s actually when we’re all at home or at the library together; usually while they’re doing their homework or reading. It’s so nice to work alongside one another, taking breaks to ask questions or to crack jokes. I get a lot of inspiration for my writing from conversations with my girls.

Do you have a favorite writing space?

I work from a laptop in various places around the house. I work on my treadmill desk for part of the day, the kitchen counter for a little while or parked on the couch if I feel like putting my feet up. I like the flexibility of being able to move around.

If you could offer a fellow writer advice what would it be?

Foremost; read, read, read/ write, write, write/ revise, revise, revise.

Then eat chocolate and repeat/ repeat/ repeat.

It’s really a combination of staying on task, working really hard, not being afraid to write junk during your first draft, revising until the cows come home, asking for help when you need it, and believing in yourself.

I have always loved mermaids. I especially loved the movies Splash and Aquamarine. Do you hope to see your book on the big screen?

I think most writers see their characters in their heads and can fully imagine them on the silver screen. That would be a lovely dream come true! Equally thrilling is to get to ‘hear’ your characters, which I have the pleasure of doing since Dreamscape Media has produced the audiobook of Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings. In fact, they’re doing a giveaway of three autographed copies until December 20th if you LIKE their fan page on Facebook. Jen Taylor does an AMAZING job as Jade. See for yourself; you can listen to the first chapter right here!

I love the cover of your book. Were you involved in the selection of the book cover?

Thankfully, no. The fabulously talented design team at Sourcebooks deserves all the credit there. I would have come up with something far dorkier and much less awesome. I love it, too!

I always love to see who authors thank in the acknowledgement section of the book. Is there anyone special that you thanked?

There are so many people who helped me shape this book into its final form so acknowledgements are always so hard for me. It’s impossible to name everyone and I end up having to be vague and utterly uncharming.

I dedicated the book to my agent, though. Because she laughed in all the right places.

Will you be doing any book signings?

Mostly in Canada but I can send signed bookplates to bookstores or book clubs. We have the technology! 

Hélène, thank you so much for stopping by. I’m sure your book will be a huge success. I have already added it to my Christmas wish list. Speaking of wish lists, what books are you looking forward to reading?

Thanks so much for adding Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings to your Christmas list! I’m really looking forward to reading my fellow Sourcebooks author, Kari Townsend’s The Samantha Granger Experiment and my friend Marina Cohen’s Mind Gap, Natalie Hyde’s Saving Armpit and Mahtab Narsimhan’s The Deadly Conch

One more question before you go. I see you are a fellow lover of chocolate. If you can have anything dipped in chocolate what would it be?

Any kind of fruit: strawberries, cherries, pineapple…SO yummy. And it can be any kind of chocolate, too. Toblerone, Cadbury, melted chocolate bunny—I’m not picky.

Okay, I lied, one more. I assume every writer has a favorite word. My favorite word is BELIEVE. What is your favorite word?

Dinglehopper. It can stand in for so many things!

I think my first blog interview was a success. Helene’s answers were AWESOME! Make sure you add her book to your wish list. I can’t wait to read all about Jade. Leave a comment and let me know how you think the interview went.

You can find Hélène on Twitter, Facebook and on her Website.

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Feel the Pain

As writer’s we have to be able to connect with all of our emotions in order to make the reader able to relate to our words. Without emotions the story will read flat. If your character is angry then find a way to bring that anger to the page. Think about what you do when you are angry. Do you scream like a banshee? (Okay, maybe that’s just me-blame it on my Italian/Irish heritage) Do you go silent? Throw dishes?

Most people never take the time to think about their emotions and how they express them. A writer has to be in touch with their inner beings if they want someone else to get in touch with their inner self.

No story could be great without the use of raw emotion. I suggest keeping a journal close by so you can scribble down your emotions as they happen. Instead of throwing a dish or screaming, jot down what you are feeling. You will be surprised how effective that will be when you are trying to write about your character being angry.

Of course you can do this for any emotion. Writing about what it feels like to be happy may help someone else become happy. What makes you happy? Is it something that someone else never thought of and the fact that you mention it in your writing opens their eyes to see?

What emotion do you find the hardest to write about? Do you cry when writing a sad scene? My rule of thumb is, if I’m not feeling it no one else will either.

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WHAT’S YOUR METHOD?

How do you get into writing mode? Do you throw on a special hat? Do you pour yourself a steaming cup of coffee before you settle down to write?

Every writer has a method. I will be the first to admit that I am a scatter brain. I might only have ten minutes throughout the day to sit at the computer so what I do is rarely consistent.

I can’t listen to music when I write because I find it distracting. But, I love to listen to music and then write. I just can’t do the two at the same time.

I often write with my eyes closed so that I can get a deeper sense of what I am writing about. If I am writing about jumping over a log, I will jump over a pillow that I put in the middle of the floor. I need to experience what I am writing about before I can put it on paper.

My favorite time to write is late at night. It’s my alone time. It’s my time to sit down for more than ten minutes and hammer away at a story that was walking around my mind all day.

Enough about my methods, I want to know more about yours. What sort of things do you do before, during, or after writing?

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STORY DESTINATION

Where does your story begin? Every writer has to draw on their life experiences when creating something someone else wants to read. Everything that you encounter in life can be brought into your story. Were you picked on in school? What emotions did that stir up inside of you? Were you prom queen? Did you lose someone you love?

We are all so different yet so alike. If you can tap into the human experience and convey it to reader’s in a way that makes them tap into it, you have an opportunity to help them interpret life by using the gift of words.

Your story begins at home, takes flight somewhere in the middle and ends wherever you decide. Here’s to your destination. I hope your journey to it is worth writing about.

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Nanoing

I hit 6110.00 words. I keep trying to steal moments away so that I can write but with a house full of life, and I mean full, sometimes finding time is hard.

The story keeps evolving and the characters keep whispering new details in my ear. It’s a dark story. I am surprising myself because usually I am not a dark writer. I stepped out of my box and to be honest it feels natural. I am sure I will find a way to lighten it up.

How is everyone else out there doing with there Nano novel?

I was psyched with my numbers until I saw my friend is at 25,000 words. I need to get writing. I have a free moment. It’s in my best interest that I take advantage of it.

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Interview with Maribeth Graham

I love reading author’s blogs and learning new things about others who share the same passion for writing as I do. I especially enjoy reading interviews. I don’t have anyone knocking on my door as of yet to ask me for an interview so I thought I would make up my own just in case someone stumbled upon my blog and wanted to know a little bit more about me.

Question: Maribeth, when did you discover that you wanted to become a writer?

Answer: I always loved to write but didn’t realize it was always my passion until my late twenties. A stop at a Halloween tent introduced me to an ugly witch that I happened to fall in love with. I went home and wrote a story about a little girl who sees the glass half empty until she encounters someone whose life is much more difficult than her own. By the end of the story she learns that there are always other people who have it harder. After writing the story the light bulb turned on and I never looked back.

Question: What did you do once you realized that writing was your passion?

Answer: I literally ran out to Walden’s Book Store and purchased books on how to get published.

Question: Then what?

Answer: There was a reference to the Institute of Children’s Literature and the benefits of taking courses on writing. I immediately signed myself up and was amazed to find out how much I didn’t know about the craft of writing.

Question: Did the ICL help you?

Answer: Absolutely, before I took the course I had no idea how to set up a manuscript page or write in a way that would allow the reader to get lost in something that I wrote. Show don’t tell was a valuable lesson I learned. After completing the first course (Writing for Children’s Magazine’s) I took a second course which helped me complete my first middle-grade novel.

Question: What is your Middle-grade novel about?

Answer: About five friends who get into trouble with the school principal and are given a summer assignment that change their lives.

Question: Can you tell some juicy parts?

Answer: I will tell you that my story deals with friendship, death, love, abuse and forgiveness.

Question: Have you attempted to get your story out there. Do you think it will be published?

Answer: I wholeheartedly believe in my story and know eventually the right person will read it and take it to where it is meant to be. I currently have queries out and I am hopeful that someone will be intrigued by the story.

Question: Tell us what else you have done to further your career.

Answer: I have joined critique groups and had the opportunity to have my work looked at by some very talented authors. I have attended Meet the Editors conferences, started a blog and joined Twitter. I am the type of person who constantly educates myself on the craft of writing. I want to be able to say that I have done everything in my power to become the best I could at the craft I love.

Question: Do you write in hopes of becoming rich?

Answer: I remember early on I read that if your motive behind writing is to become rich and famous then chances are you will let yourself down. I think every writer hopes that their work will be discovered and well received. I write because I have to, it is what I was born to do. If I am not writing a major piece of who I am is missing.

Question: What projects are you currently working on?

Answer: I have about five chapters of a new middle-grade novel. It is a fantastical story. I am completely in love with the characters. This year I surprised myself and entered NaNoWriMo after I dreamt of a story that wouldn’t leave my mind. I have over 5000 words so far. I am curious to see where this one takes me.

Question: Is there anything that you would want agents or publishers to know about you?

Answer: Only that I consider myself a genuine person who is dedicated to the craft of writing. I take constructive criticism very well and know that without criticism a person will never grow. A person who cannot take criticism is failing to see the person they could become.  I won’t give up! My patience and perseverance will lead me to the future that I am intended to have.

Question: What if that future isn’t what you are hoping for?

Answer: Sometimes what we are hoping for is something less than we are meant to have. I am an optimist, I see sunshine in my future and if a little rain comes I have no problem getting wet.

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