Life After NaNoWriMo: Get Readers Reading

Love Comes Later 2014coverI didn’t make it to 50,000 words this month nor did anyone in my NaNoWriMo MOOC. I don’t feel badly about this because I do have 13,000 words, or more than half of the opening act of my novel. The project is a sequel to Love Comes Later, which was released in paperback last month. Never a dull moment around here.

What happens now? I get people to read. Because so many of my books are deeply rooted in culture, and increasingly cultures that are not my own, I need a special kind of beta reader: a cultural “expert.” I have that word in quotes because this expert doesn’t necessarily have a PhD or publish in a particular area. Rather they are cultural expert informants: they are the characters I am writing about in their real lives.

That means this week I have sent my first 7 chapters into the hands of female Qatari university students because the main character of the sequel is Luluwa, a twentysomething fashion major who notices a strange man lurking around her family compound.

I’m biting my fingers until I hear back from my three teams of beta readers. But that’s what makes writing so exciting: you engage test readers to tell you what you got right and what you can improve on.

Stay tuned! In the meantime, if you haven’t read the original, get on it. Once the jinni shows up in the sequel, it will write itself!


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At 12 a.m. I Am…

Sitting at my keyboard, wond293813565_757fd1ebfa_zering if I should start on the day’s count for NaNoWriMo. Last night, around this time, while cleaning up my hard drive, I stumbled across the 2012 NaNo folder. Yes, being the nerd-overachiever that I am, I clicked, to see how I compared with myself 2012.

Turns out, I’m on par with that self of last year; on November 19th, 2012 I had 10,000 words. Compared the lofty standards of NaNo I was woefully behind. And I did finish about a week behind that year. The novel I hoped to release by Christmas was out on December 20th.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking, what was going on in 2011? The amazing thing about technology is I can tell you. Without spells or wishing wells or time machines.

That manuscript, which became the novel Saving Peace, had 28,000 words on November 19th. Also planned for Christmas but it wasn’t released until January 8, 2012.

I could mix in a few stories about our two children, how the first one came late and the second one early but I have to get back to my word count.

I am woefully behind on my sequel to Love Comes Later, that unlike the other NaNoWriMo projects before her, has no release date.

Like a good mother (or writer) I won’t give up on my baby.

What are you doing at 12 a.m.?



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Same Story, Different Day

photoThe wonderful thing about keeping a blog, diary or record, is that you can archive your life. While we may have fragments of our ancestors’ lives, thanks to modern technology, we are indexing ourselves faster than any library.

This time last year, on this very space, I was bemoaning how far behind I was with my NaNoWriMo goal of 1666 words a day.

2013? Not that different really. Except that instead of biting my nails, I’m at the desk late into the night. My goal is no longer to catch up (maybe even the dream of finishing on time is pulling away from me). My goal is to be faithful to my story and tell it.

No matter how long it takes. No matter that like children, other projects are begging for my attention – including a paperback edition of a novel, content revisions for another – I keep writing a little at a time. I am researching djinns/jinns as one of them in a major character in this new book.

And I press on.  Sometimes the best way to get energy from to tell your own story is to help someone with theirs. That’s what the diagram to the left is; I’m teaching a NaNoWriMo MOOC or an online course to help others finish. Here’s a diagram of the 3 Act structure we brainstormed today at lunch time.

How are you doing with your writing goals, NaNo or otherwise?

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