Category Archives: NaNoWriMo

Surviving the Crash and Burn: NaNoWriMo Wrapup.

And that’s it. The end of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for 2016. The aim: to write fifty thousand words in 31 days – a short novel from start to finish. For more information on NaNoWriMo click HERE.  Those who ‘win’ gain glory and prizes – including discounts for writing software and editing, free eBook creation, and a free masterclass by James Patterson. Mostly it’s for the glory – the satisfaction of finishing the first draft of a novel.
This year my project was the third journal in Viola Stewart’s adventures – The Illusioneer & Other Tales.

Did I win?

No. I managed just over 17,200 words. Technically I crashed and burned on day sixteen.


Did I fail?

“But you only managed half the word count goal?”, you say.
“So what,” say I.
And here’s why:

There is more than one way to win in NaNo. Just participating – getting off my butt, putting pen to paper, cajoling my brain into production and not giving into procrastination is a huge win.

The week before NaNo, I had given into anxiety (What if I haven’t got another book in me? What if it’s crap?) and devoured chocolate in an effort to feel better. NaNo loomed. Two days to go and I wasn’t ready! Out came the notebooks. I dove into the internet, researching nineteen century illusionists, Victorian beach holidays and the Loch Ness monster (amongst other things).

November started with promise. I had a goal. I had a deadline. I was going to make it! Then real life happened. Doubts crept in. By day sixteen I was exhausted. The migraines started and I still had Supanova (convention) to content with. I tried to push through. I got frustrated, annoyed, anxious.

Then I remembered writing is like an iceberg. The reader glimpses but a fraction, the final product. There’s a lot more to a novel than just the final words on paper. The foundation is the important thing.

Once I gave myself permission to ‘fail’ at NaNo, I managed to relax. My migraine faded. The anxiety abated. I could think more clearly. My health improved. I wrote notes. Lots of notes. Clues required later in the story; plot threads to be gathered and finalised. I drew a map, vital to follow the action and make my life easier when I returned to work on the first draft.

If I hadn’t had those NaNoWriMo statistics staring back at me,  I may have continued to wallow. I didn’t moan that I had a block  or I was going to fail. Instead, I asked myself: what else can I do to help achieve my final goal?

NaNo was just one of many tools in my writing box. A way to get closer to my final goal. By the end of the month, I had completed more than one-third of my final goal – the third installment to Viola’s adventures. In turn, this encouraged me to start looking at the final book cover. I even got out of my chair and got some gardening done (yeah for exercise and endorphins).

So, how did I really do for NaNoWriMo?
If you only look at the numbers on my dashboard then, yes, technically I did crash and burn. But in my heart, I beat this bout of anxiety. In my heart, I won.

And that’s what really matters.

Journal #3: Seeing is believing… Or is it?

It’s almost NaNoWriMo time. The challenge is to complete 50,000 new words in thirty days. That’s 11,667 words per week, or 1667 words per day. On a good day I can pen 1000-1500 words. On an exceptional day, when the stars align, I can write 2000 plus words. (I envy those who can get thousands  of words written in one day.)
You can read more on NaNoWriMo on my past blog post here. 

It’s a hard slog, but not beyond the realms of reality. My record so far is 32,792 (done at Camp NaNo in 2015). A large chunk of my second book, Eye of the Beholder was written during last year’s NaNo. And that was without any significant preparation – it snuck up on me!

This year I’m more organised. I’m determined to get a first draft of Viola Stewart’s next set of adventures done (or at least a significant part of it). I’ve jotted down notes in various notebooks, scraps of paper and sticky notes. I have a small spiral notebook by the bed for those ‘wee hours of the morning’ inspirations when I can’t sleep. I’ve even – now prepare yourself…
I even have basic notes for some scenes, some foreshadowing and three important plot points. Yes, shock, horror! This pantser has some some plotting. You can learn more about Pansting and Plotting in this post.
Now I just need to find all those scraps of paper before next month.)

Journal #3 is the final planned book for this series, though Viola may return in future short adventures. Then it’s a slight change of pace, as I concentrate on finishing the final few chapters of The Department of Curiosities.

Here’s a few sneak peeks at what is happening with Journal #3:

  • The format will remain the same. Three short stories and a feature novella – but the order may change. Two shorts, the novella, and a final short to tie up loose ends.
  • After Viola’s last, harrowing adventure, she’s off on holidays for the opening short story, From the Depths.
  • The background story lines will be wrapped up.
  • The Men in Grey (The Society) will return (of course!).
  • As with the two previous journals (3 shorts+novella), the featured novella with have a very Victorian subject. This time it revolves around the mysterious world of the nineteenth century illusionist.
  • Blurb:
    Viola returns for a third set of adventures. Viola needs a holiday. But even at the beach, or while partying on the grand tour of Europe… there are things afoot.
    Seeing is believing… or is it?
  • the-illusioneer_5_25x8inccover_journal_3cropsmAnd now to reveal the title (drum roll please):
    The Illusioneer & Other Tales
  • Here’s another partial reveal. The cover for Journal #3 will be blue. So, when you to the library and ask for ‘that book with the blue cover‘, it could be mine.
    I’m currently collecting items related to the stories to feature on the cover – a surprise for later posts.

I’ve bought a new notebook and sharpened my pencils. I have a new USB to save typed files, pictures and cover design. Now I just have to wait until November 1st (and maybe write some more notes before then).

You can follow my progress on my NaNoWriMo page, blog posts and twitter.

Photos:©2016 Karen J Carlisle. All Rights Reserved.

Camp NaNoWriMo Round-up.

July was the second Camp NaNoWriMo for 2016. For those who have no idea what NaNoWriMo is, you can read about it here.  Camp NaNo has more flexibility.  Simply put, you nominate a set number of words to complete in one month. Minimum 30 words. You can write novel drafts, revision, poetry, scripts or short stories. You choose.

NaNoWriMo is not for everyone. I find it a useful tool; it is a kick in the butt – an incentive to avoid procrastinating. This Camp, I cut my word count to twenty thousand as I was having surgery in week three and would lose at least a  week and a half of writing time. As it was, my surgery was rescheduled a week earlier – so it was possible I would only have two full weeks of writing time (depending on my recovery).

Planned work was transcribing (and rewriting) several handwritten scenes, writing three scenes from notes, rewriting, editing and then tackling those last three critical scenes I had been putting off for months. The aim was to try to complete my work-in-progress three short stories and novella for my next book, Eye of the Beholder & Other Tales.

What I achieved:

camp 160711Week1: A slow start. Final rewrites and edits were done on the shorts.

Week 2: Several scenes were in limbo – some on first drafts, some on final rewrites. I worked my way through scenes 1-10 to final edits before I had surgery.

Week 3: Recovery time. This week was a write-off. Pardon the pun. The three short stories were passed onto beta readers.

Week 4: My brain is finally starting to work again. I finished another seven scenes to final edits. Two scenes were written from notes. This leaves the final scene and two clue-filled scenes left to write (I had left them to last so I wouldn’t leave out any of the crucial clues).

160730Yesterday I woke, having dreamed the perfect final scene. I spent the day trying to recreate it; I managed the highest daily word count for the month: 3343. If only the words would flow like this, every day!

I even managed to do some formatting (non-NaNo assigned and not on the record) so I could assign my ISBN and register for Cataloguing-in-Progress with the National Library, ready for publication. This can take up to two weeks, so I had to get it completed to allow for time for submission and printing. That September launch date is looming…


For those in Adelaide, I am doing a pre-launch at the Aus SciFi club rooms on 11th September. The official launch is at the Steampunk Festival in September.

steampunk festival 2017 poster

A big thank you to my writing group for their helpful critiques, my editor, Sharon Kemmett, and my beta readers, David and Terry.