Author: nanowrimohq

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An inevitable part of NaNoWriMo is the naysayers. The best thing to do is pretend they don’t exist, but we writers are sensitive souls, and sometimes it can get to us. In this post, NaNoWriMo participant Nicole Luttrell gives her thoughts on writing in spite of negativity:

You’re all ready to participate in Nanowrimo. Maybe it’s your first time, maybe you’re a veteran. Whichever point you’re at, you are stoked. You are so excited for a month of word nerd sister and brotherhood, of putting your writing first. Of getting your novel done! Or at least 50,000 words of it done. I mean, if you write fantasy or something else pretty long then you might still have some work to do.

But that’s not the point here.

The point is that, invariably, there will be people in your life who do not, cannot understand Nanowrimo.

And because they cannot understand it, you’re likely to get a lot of this.

“What are you doing?”

“Why are you letting someone else set these arbitrary deadlines?”

“You’re never going to finish it.”

“You’re wasting your time.”  

“You’re never going to do anything with it.”

“Do you know the odds of getting published? You’ve got a better chance of winning the lottery.”

I know that this is what you’ll hear because I’ve heard it all. Especially the first year I participated. Most people were super supportive. But there were a few who just couldn’t let me be. They pestered me, harassed me, and made me feel guilty for participating. And thank God, I didn’t listen.

It’s always the same sort of person, at least for me. It’s a well-meaning friend. It’s the intrusive relative that thinks you need to grow up and focus on the real world.

The worst offender, though, is the one who reminds you how full your plate is. You have classwork, kids, a full-time job, a house to keep in order, a relative who just had hip surgery. You’re already hustling, already tired, already doing so much! What are you doing adding more on top of things? This is particularly nefarious because it sounds uncomfortably like the little voice in your own head, the one telling you to forget it and catch up on Stranger Things instead.

Forget that. No one’s opinion is going to pay your bills. It sure isn’t going to help you reach your dreams either.

I want you to understand something, especially if you’re a brand new writer. Yes, writing a book is hard. It’s a long, long road. Whether you self publish or seek traditional publishing, it’s a lot of long nights, getting up early to write. And here’s the really bad part. You can be a great writer, and you can try your absolute best. And you still might not get published. But you have zero chance, absolutely none at all, if you don’t finish your novel. And yeah, the odds are against you, the competition is fierce.

But trying and failing beats never trying every time. So don’t listen to the people who tell you that you can’t do this, that you’re wasting your time. Look, I’m assuming that you’re here because you love to write. And if you love how you’re spending your time then it is never a waste.

Write on.


Nicole is a speculative fiction writer. That means she writes about dragons, ghosts and spaceships. Sometimes she writes about the ghosts of dragons and spaceships. She’s the author behind Station 86 and Woven. Follow along with her adventures and reviews of all things geeky at Paper Beats World.



Check out her books:

Broken Patterns on Amazon

Seeming on Smashwords

Top image licensed under Creative Commons from Adam on Flickr.

Every November, during National Novel Writing Month, thirty professional designers volunteer to create book cover art inspired by novels being written by aspiring authors from around the globe. Why? To encourage new, diverse voices, and help build a more creative world.  

30 Covers, 30 Days is presented in partnership with designer and author Debbie Millman.

Day 14 finds us with another cover:

Amberina Glass

Cover design by Marvin Forte based on a novel by NaNoWriMo Participant 

Shelley JoAnn Brown-Pruett:

Amberina Glass is a widowed school teacher with red hair, a heart of gold, and a Pinkerton badge pinned to her brassiere. Trying to survive on her own during the Great Depression has inspired her to take on extra work, and she is hired by the agency to infiltrate the lives of workers in the local auto plants and identify possible union organizers. When tensions rise around the city and the National Guard is called in to keep the peace, Amberina’s heart of gold is called into question as she finds herself (and her students) at the center of violence during the Flint Sit-Down Strike of 1936-7.

Cover Design by Marvin Forte

I’m Marvin Forte, the “why?” guy. I specialize in creative, intuitive design that’s simple and elegant. I’m a graphic and web designer living in the greater Portland, Oregon area. I’ve worked in print since 1988 and the web since 1998. My designs have bolstered projects for the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, Major League Baseball, the NCAA Final Four, and the San Francisco Giants. I’m a former president of AIGA Arizona, and served on the AIGA Chapter Advisory Council.

Check out more of his work here, or get in touch with him via his website!

Head on over the forums! There might be a fun surprise waiting over there.

(Hint: It’s a discussion thread).

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Every November, during National Novel Writing Month, thirty professional designers volunteer to create book cover art inspired by novels being written by aspiring authors from around the globe. Why? To encourage new, diverse voices, and help build a more creative world.  

30 Covers, 30 Days is presented in partnership with designer and author Debbie Millman.

It’s day 13, everyone!

Unmasked

Cover design by Holly Aguilar, based on a novel by Young Writers Program participant Meg Paulson:

Claire, a sophomore, attends Willow Creek High School, except it isn’t what it seems. Set up by the government, the students learn to develop superpowers. When Claire becomes too powerful, she develops a dangerous enemy. Now, grades, archenemies, and making friends are the least of her worries.

Cover design by Holy Aguilar

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Holly Aguilar is an award-winning designer and illustrator, so if anyone does judge your book by its cover, she’s got you…covered. By day, Holly is a Design Director at Balcom Agency, the largest marketing firm in Fort Worth, Texas. Learn more about the Balcom Agency on their website.

Holly is so great that she went out of her way to design an alternate cover! Check it out:

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And also, join us over on the forums to discuss the cover, etc.

NaNoWriMo can seem like a daunting task sometimes, for NaNo newbies and veterans alike. Fortunately, our NaNo Coaches are here to help guide you through November! Today, author Aisha Saeed is here to share her advice on how to take care of yourself while you’re writing:

Welcome to week two of NaNoWriMo! I’m honored to be a coach this month because NaNoWriMo is how I found the determination and motivation to finish my debut young adult novel, Written In The Stars. In the hopes of paying it forward here are some quick tips that helped me I hope will help you!  

1. Write with a friend! 

Back in 2009 when I was working on my novel, a friend introduced me to NaNoWriMo. She asked if I wanted to take it on together. A month to complete a 50,000 word novel felt like a huge task and I was pretty sure I couldn’t do it, but having a friend made all the difference. We cheered each other on, met up for coffee dates, and when we couldn’t meet up we texted each other about word counts for the day. If you don’t have a friend to write with, it’s not too late! Check out the NaNoWriMo forums and look at the meet ups that might be happening near you. It’s a great way not only to write together with others, but to perhaps make a friend or two. 

2. Be bold and proud about taking on NaNoWriMo this month. 

It can be intimidating to announce you’re writing a novel. I encourage you to share it with the world! At the very least make sure to let friends and family know. A 50,000 word novel requires time away and to yourself to do what you need to do. It means sometimes you’ll say no to a hang out or a sporting event. Let those close to you know about this huge undertaking and ask for their support. As a mama to three boys, I let my partner know we’ll be eating a bit more take out than usual and the house will be messier. It’s okay! The dishes will always pile up—but NaNoWriMo is a month for you to do something for you. 

3. Front load your word count when you can. 

I said this before and I’ll say it again: 50,000 words in the span of one month, which also includes Thanksgiving holidays, is hard. Whenever I do NaNoWriMo, I never get any writing done around Thanksgiving because family is visiting and there are turkeys to be baked and stuffing to be chopped. Now, I plan ahead. I make sure to block out days I know I won’t get any writing done and find less busy days to get that extra word count in to make sure I hit my goal. Then, if I do get some time during Thanksgiving to write, it’s a bonus but I’m not hard on myself for enjoying the holidays and taking some time off. 

4. Write through the UGH! 

First drafts are hard. First drafts are ugly. I’m currently working on my ninth novel and I’m sorry to report this fact remains as true as it ever did. There are going to be many times this month you will feel discouraged by your writing and the story. Taking an idea that’s rested beautifully in your mind’s eye and tackling it onto a page is never easy. Your book will improve with time, but first drafts are not about getting the story perfect. They are about getting the words down, creating a ‘lump of clay’ that you will shape into the story that it will ultimately be. I’ve learned to write through the ugly first draft by allowing myself permission to acknowledge this.  

As I write first drafts, I literally write in parenthesis this: (UGH). After a bad chapter or sentence just to vent the frustration about how hard it is, and how bad the sentence or chapter is, I write (UGH) to acknowledge, yes this isn’t what I had in mind, and then I give myself permission to let it go and keep on going. Another author friend highlights the bad sentences as she goes to remember to focus on them on the next round, while yet another friend leaves comments on her document with notes about something to look into more once the first draft is done. This is by no means necessary, but if you feel you are avoiding writing because of how bad the writing feels—take heart that nearly every writer I’ve ever asked feels exactly the same way, and if you need a little short cut to give your permission to write ugly drafts, take it!


Aisha Saeed is the New York Times bestselling author of WRITTEN IN THE STARS, which was listed as a best book of 2015 by Bank Street Books and a 2016 YALSA Quick Pick For Reluctant Readers. She is also the author of the middle grade novel AMAL UNBOUND, which was a Summer 2018 Indie Next Pick and an Amazon Best Book of the Month; has received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus; and was a Global Read Aloud for 2018. She has a forthcoming picture book, BILAL COOKS DAAL. Aisha is also a founding member of the nonprofit We Need Diverse Books™.

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Every November, during National Novel Writing Month, thirty professional designers volunteer to create book cover art inspired by novels being written by aspiring authors from around the globe. Why? To encourage new, diverse voices, and help build a more creative world.  

30 Covers, 30 Days is presented in partnership with designer and author Debbie Millman.

Day 12! What a lovely day!

Black Birds

Cover designed by Joe Schwartz based on a novel by NaNoWriMo Participant Jay Lee:

1883. Johnson’s Hole is a dying town. The gold’s run dry. Henry already struggled to feed his family, but now jobs are even more scarce. Henry fears he’ll have to leave with the other discouraged miners. Until a silent newcomer enters town, bringing a new rush for gold and pulling Henry into a mystery far deeper than any mine. Tommyknockers are very real, and they’re not the only thing that followed miners to Colorado.

Cover Design by Joe Schwartz

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Joe Schwartz has been a professional graphic designer, art director and design educator for more than three decades. In addition to his design work, Joe lives in New Jersey and is currently a design instructor at Spotswood High School, an adjunct professor of design at Kean University and is a cofounder of DESIGN-ED, a 501©3 nonprofit design education organization. He is also a proud husband and dad to his wife Dawn his two sons, Jonathan and Jason.

Find out more about DESIGN-ED on their website, and follow the on Facebook and Twitter!

As I say every day, every single day, to the point that I’m running out of new ways to say it: There’s a forums thread, and you should totally come hang out and discuss the cover and be generally chill!

Every year, we’re lucky to have great sponsors for our nonprofit events. Kindle Direct Publishing, a NaNoWriMo 2019 sponsor, is a free self-publishing platform that can help you reach millions of readers. Today, author Julian Simmons shares how he found his writing community through NaNoWriMo:

This NaNoWriMo, participants are busy with the exciting challenge of bringing their stories to life. The time has come to seduce our stories onto the page with the dream of reaching people all over the world. But as some of us know from experience, our narratives can be shy, and therefore we have to start small and simple to get them ready for literary splendor. 

I went into my first NaNoWriMo with no outline, no storyboards, and no expectations. All I had was a simple plot and the drive to devote 50,000 words to my book. The zero prep work allowed me to focus on taking the words from my head and putting them on paper. I never looked at NaNoWriMo as something that would give me a completed novel, ready for publication at the end. For me, this competition was only about writing 50,000 words as the foundation of my story. That was it. What I didn’t expect was the level of support I received from the many different writing communities I found by just joining my home region.

Our network of writing communities met for write-ins, used online platforms to play games to increase our word count, shared writing prompts, and challenged our NaNoWriMo buddies’ word count to keep us motivated. I even joined a group of Wrimos at work and we scheduled short breaks to write together. All of these activities had one focus: getting as many words out as possible. And it worked! I finished the challenge with over 50,000 words and went on to write an additional 30,000 words in the months following NaNoWriMo. What worked best for me was to avoid making the writing process feel like a project with spreadsheets full of story timelines and character outlines. This would make the process feel like a never-ending homework assignment, and I would never finish. Some writers prefer to plan and organize their NaNoWriMo journey, and ultimately you have to do what works best for you.

“What I love most about NaNoWriMo and KDP is that they provide a path for writers to create, nurture, and share their stories with the world, lending a voice to those who may never have had the opportunity.”

The community and support that I experienced continued after NaNoWriMo. My home region stayed active on social media. Through my network of friends I made during the writing challenge, I was able to connect with an amazing editor that fit the needs of my manuscript and even found multiple graphic designers to help me with cover and interior design. When I was ready to publish, I used Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). The KDP community forums are heavily driven by authors sharing tips and tricks for publishing and gave me a true sense of authors looking out for each other.

What I love most about NaNoWriMo and KDP is that they provide a path for writers to create, nurture, and share their stories with the world, lending a voice to those who may never have had the opportunity. I’d watched many of my friends publish their books over the years, but finally being one of those authors by submitting my final manuscript for publication was an incredible experience. 

To find out more about the KDP community, visit the KDP Community page.


Julian Simmons is an award-winning author of the middle-grade novel The Writer’s Table and works at Amazon KDP in the books division. You can find him at www.juliansimmonsbooks.com and through social media @writerjsimmons

Top photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash.

Every November, during National Novel Writing Month, thirty professional designers volunteer to create book cover art inspired by novels being written by aspiring authors from around the globe. Why? To encourage new, diverse voices, and help build a more creative world.  

30 Covers, 30 Days is presented in partnership with designer and author Debbie Millman.

Here’s our day 11 cover:

Take Me With You

Cover Design by Lauren Vajda, based a novel by NaNoWriMo participant Nikki Powell:

Carmen is a woman of the world who has never traveled anywhere. Her work as a passport administrator gives her a glimpse at the travels of her clients but what’s keeping Carmen from hitting the road? And will she be smart enough to take the shot when she has it?

Cover design by Lauren Vajda

Lauren
Vajda is a designer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. She embraces
designing solutions for clients big and small but strives for making an impact
on educational and non-profit organizations. When she’s not designing, she is
likely hiking with her family, attempting to become the next Star Baker, or
reading a good book (or three). Check out her website to see more of her work!

Join us over on our forums thread for the discussion!

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Every year, as tens of thousands of writers get ready to write a novel, we ask a handful of authors to share encouragement, advice, and their experience. This year, in partnership with Vintage Anchor Books, we’re sharing some words of inspiration from author Anne Lamott, and celebrating the 25th anniversary of her book Bird by Bird by sharing an excerpt here on our blog:

The very first thing I tell my new students on the first day of a workshop is that good writing is about telling the truth. We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason they write so very little. But we do. We have so much we want to say and figure out. Year after year my students are bursting with stories to tell, and they start writing projects with excitement and maybe even joy—finally their voices will be heard, and they are going to get to devote themselves to this one thing they’ve longed to do since childhood. But after a few days at the desk, telling the truth in an interesting way turns out to be about as easy and pleasurable as bathing a cat. Some lose faith. Their sense of self and story shatters and crumbles to the ground. Historically they show up for the first day of the workshop looking like bright goofy ducklings who will follow me anywhere, but by the time the second class rolls around, they look at me as if the engagement is definitely off.

“I don’t even know where to start,” one will wail.

Start with your childhood, I tell them. Plug your nose and jump in, and write down all your memories as truthfully as you can. Flannery O’Connor said that anyone who survived childhood has enough material to write for the rest of his or her life. Maybe your childhood was grim and horrible, but grim and horrible is Okay if it is well done. Don’t worry about doing it well yet, though. Just start getting it down.

Now, the amount of material may be so overwhelming that it can make your brain freeze. When I had been writing food reviews for a number of years, there were so many restaurants and individual dishes in my brainpan that when people asked for a recommendation, I couldn’t think of a single restaurant where I’d ever actually eaten. But if the person could narrow it down to, say, Indian, I might remember one lavish Indian place I went on a date. Then a number of memories would come to mind, of other dates and other Indian restaurants.

So you might start by writing down every single thing you can remember from your first few years in school. Start with kindergarten. Try to get the words and memories down as they occur to you. Don’t worry if what you write is no good, because no one is going to see it. Move on to first grade, to second, to third. Who were your teachers, your classmates? What did you wear? Who and what were you jealous of? Now branch out a little. Did your family take vacations during those years? Get these down on paper. Do you remember how much more presentable everybody else’s family looked? Do you remember how when you’d be floating around in an inner tube on a river, your own family would have lost the little cap that screws over the airflow valve, so every time you got in and out of the inner tube, you’d scratch new welts in your thighs? And how other families never lost the caps? […] Remember that you own what happened to you.

Excerpted from Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott Copyright © 1995 by Anne Lamott. Excerpted by permission of Anchor. All rights reserved.

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Every November, during National Novel Writing Month, thirty professional designers volunteer to create book cover art inspired by novels being written by aspiring authors from around the globe. Why? To encourage new, diverse voices, and help build a more creative world.  

30 Covers, 30 Days is presented in partnership with designer and author Debbie Millman.

Day 10 is here! How time flies!

The Bone Orchard

Cover design by Jesse Hernandez, based on a novel by NaNoWriMo Participant Nikki Hernandez:

She has spent her whole life tending the Orchard, making sure the bodies are stripped down properly and the bones arranged just so. It all has to be perfect if the seedling in the skull is to sprout, the tree to grow, the trunk to split and the person to walk forth again…

Cover Design by Jesse Hernandez

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Jesse Hernandez is a senior graphic designer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He attended the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) where he was a double major in graphic design and animation. For eight years Jesse was an independent brand designer working with clients like Hasbro, the City of Providence, and Brown University. Jesse works with his cat and dog when possible.

You can find Jesse online at jessehernandez.cc and on Twitter and Instagram @jessesans.

As always, join us over on the forums for discussion!

Every November, during National Novel Writing Month, thirty professional designers volunteer to create book cover art inspired by novels being written by aspiring authors from around the globe. Why? To encourage new, diverse voices, and help build a more creative world.  

30 Covers, 30 Days is presented in partnership with designer and author Debbie Millman.

Day 9! What a momentous day. Our second perfect square!

WAYFASS: Wishes and Dreams

Cover designed by David Hisaya Asari based on a novel by Young Writers Program Participant Claire Geddis:

Wish has always dreamed of becoming a spy. Just as she’s about to give up, she receives an acceptance letter to the school WAYFASS: Warfare Academy For Young Female Assassins, Spies, and Stealth. It’s located on a remote woodland island where the classes take place is treehouses. She finally feels she finds a place where she belongs because of the friends she makes.

Cover Design by David Hisaya Asari

David Hisaya Asari is a graphic designer and design educator, based in Oakland, California. He teaches at California College of the Arts, focused on graphic design and information visualization; and he leads a Japan study abroad course. David is President Emeritus of the San Francisco chapter of AIGA, the professional association for design. He serves on the national board of AIGA’s Design Educators Community.

Here’s a forum thread! What a world!