NaNoWriMo 2018: And so it begins…

Somehow, today starts my fifteenth year of participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Somehow, I’ve completed the previous fourteen and won. Somehow, two of those books have become available to the public (here and here).

Will this fifteenth attempt turn into something Amazon-worthy? Only time will tell. But if Day One is any indication, I’m excited to see what happens this month. Wherever this new story takes me, I’ll be traveling there with my IBM Selectric II typewriter for the first draft, with my trusty NaNo Rhino cheering me on as a mascot. (I’d call him a muse, but he’s a bit of a jerk and doesn’t always like to help me solve plot dilemmas. He’s too busy eating leftover Halloween candy. Jerk.)


Why a typewriter, you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked. (Actually, no, I’m not. I get tired of this question after the 237th time.) I use a typewriter because sometimes—just sometimes—you need to see the paper move. Physically move. And you need a device that makes it impossible to self-edit along the way. During NaNoWriMo—during any first-draft stage—you need to move forward, always forward.

Don’t look back! That’s what I hear when I listen to the hummmmmming of my Selectrics. They’re marvelous beasts for typing for long periods of time. I often have to tear myself away from the keyboard because it’s such a delight to use. Give me a Selectric keyboard over any computer keyboard any day.

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year, leave a comment and tell me what your process looks like. Mine involves not only the Selectrics and the rhino mascot, but also copious amounts of caffeine, a lot of ’90s alternative music in the background, and a heavy reliance on voicemail.


Soon . . .

It’s almost here again. Not just Halloween—with its promise of fun-sized candy bars for weeks because I always conveniently over-purchase for our trick-or-treaters (#sorrynotsorry)—but also what I like to call NaNo Eve.
For the past 13 years, I’ve spent Halloween night watching bad horror movies (usually AMC’s Fear Fest) and prepping for the start of National Novel Writing Month in November. This will be Year 14. And, as usual, I’m so excited I can barely think of anything else. This one event, paired with my discovery of Alphasmarts back in 2004, has made November my favorite month each year.


So, just as I’ve done for the past 13 Halloweens, I’ll spend Tuesday night gobbling tiny Kit Kat bars and cute little Hershey miniatures, sipping coffee into the wee hours, waiting for midnight so I can start on this year’s 50,000 new words of fiction.
But, unlike the past 13 years, this time I won’t be starting a brand new project. NaNoWriMo now allows participants to work on a previous fiction project, as long as all the words written in November are new to the project. And since I have a few previous NaNo novels that aren’t quite done, this seems like the year to tie up some loose ends rather than unravel new ones.
In fact, I’m modifying even that new take on the old rules a little bit further. The past two NaNo novels have been upcoming books in my Red Ink cozy mystery series. Each one needs about 25,000 words to finish the story.
You can see where I’m going with this.
So, I’m hoping to finally see complete first drafts of both The Tell-Tale Heart Attack and Charlotte’s Website in about a month. It’s making me feel so grown-up and responsible. Pretty much new feelings for me.
And because I can’t just wing it from scratch this time, I’ll spend the next two days rereading what I have so far on both novels, so I can hit the ground running at midnight on Tuesday night. I’m nervous about doing NaNoWriMo this way, but then again, I get nervous trying out a new flavor of coffee creamer. Your mileage may vary.
Let me be clear that I’m not nervous about doing NaNoWriMo yet again on a typewriter. I’ve found it’s the best way to churn out new fiction. Been practicing on both the Selectric I and the Selectric II this past few weeks. I even bought a few new “golf balls” for each of them.
The fingers are getting itchy. I’m ready.

NaNoWriMo is calling my name … again

In about thirteen hours, I’ll be officially going insane. Again.

I know, I know. If you already know me, you’re thinking, “Wait, didn’t that happen sometime around 1981?”

Sure, the first time. But I’m talking about that temporary insanity, that yearly foray into crazyhood known as National Novel Writing Month (known to the rest of the normal world as “November”).  (See for more information or to join in the insanity.) November starts in thirteen hours, and although other folks are trick-or-treating and dressing up as clowns or princesses or Barack Obama or other equally frightening things, I’ll spend part of the day polishing my minimal planning for this year’s novel, waiting for the imaginary starting gun at the stroke of midnight. It’ll mean typing 50,000 words on a new fiction project sometime between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30. That’s about 1,667 words per day, every day, if you write the same amount every day. Which I don’t. I tend to skip a few days out of distraction and then scurry to catch up by hooking up an I.V. of essential fluids and a catheter to release those fluids and writing for hours on end while family members whisper behind my back and plot to have me committed.

I’ve participated in this yearly ritual every November since 2004 … and I’ve “won” every year too. If you think that makes me over-confident, though, you’re wrong. If anything, it feels like a whole lotta pressure. Will this be the year that beats me to a pulp? Will this be the one time I can’t keep up? Will I sprain a pinky folding laundry on Day Two and not be able to type properly for three weeks? You know: the obvious questions at a time like this.

Does it help that I have a ton of freelance projects staring me in the face right now (and I usually don’t)? No.

Does it help that I have a bunch of engagements outside the house this first two weeks that will interrupt my alone-time? No.

Does it help that hubby has a routine screening procedure tomorrow morning (known to me as Day One, the Day of Momentum) that will mean both of us being out of the house for hours? No.

Does it help that we are in the throes of perhaps the biggest house move either of us has ever made, with paperwork and phone calls and inspections coming out our ears this month? No.

Does any of this deter me from attempting the impossible for an eighth year in a row?


The word processor is ready. The AlphaSmart Neo is ready. The Acer netbook is ready. The two desktop computers are ready. Even the IBM Selectric typewriter is ready. Year Eight will not beat me.