Why I’ll Never Participate in NaNoWriMo Again

I have dreamed of successfully completing at least one NaNoWriMo competition since 2011, and this past year I finally realized that dream. I wrote 50,014 words of This Dread Road, Book Three of The Bennett Series, in November 2015.

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I was so proud of myself. Not only had I finally managed to complete a challenge, I did it in the same month my husband and I purchased a home and moved.

For several months after I finished, I was convinced that participating in NaNo was a great thing that everyone should do. After all, I’d never managed to write so much so quickly in my life. But now that I’m finished with revisions, I can look back and say with all manner of certainty that NaNoWrioMo, while well-intentioned, did me far more harm than good.

 

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For one thing, it ushered in a horrific period of burnout. I never stopped working on This Dread Road, but it took nearly six months for me to finish the second half of the book. I went through several weeks of just not caring about the story anymore. Working on it was painful and torturous. For a while, I worried I wouldn’t finish it in time. Or at all.

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Our trip to South Carolina in March forced me to rest and rejuvenate. I came home more excited about the story than ever, having seen places like Stella Maris Church (pictured above) that were connected to the story of This Dread Road. It took another month after our return, but I finally finished the draft. I was so happy to finish, and still eternally gratefully for NaNoWriMo. If I hadn’t written that 50,014 words last November, how much further behind schedule would I be?

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But when I started revisions a few weeks ago, I realized that those first 50,000 words were essentially useless. That section of the book was packed with filler words, unnecessary characters, and subplots I hadn’t taken the time to flesh out. I could almost map my exhaustion during the month of November just looking at that first half.

I had to rewrite the first twenty-seven chapters.

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I don’t wish that I hadn’t participated in NaNo last year–it was a fun experience, and I enjoyed the camaraderie and solidarity that I experienced all across the Internet. It was finals week, but without the stress of grades hanging over my head. I got a lot done. Had I not participated, I most likely wouldn’t have taken a break to redesign all three of the covers for The Bennett Series. I wouldn’t have been able to let my experience in Charleston influence my descriptions nearly as much.

Most importantly, I wouldn’t have learned a valuable lesson: what works for others does not necessarily work for me.


This Dread Road is currently in the editing stage and is tentatively scheduled for a December 2016 release. I will hopefully have a firm date for you soon! 

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#TeaserThursday – New Trailer for The Bennett Series

Check out the new book trailer for The Bennett Series! Trailers for the individual books will be out soon. Tell me what you think in the comments, and make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel.

An Open Book – March Edition

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Thanks to Carolyn Astfalk for starting off the #OpenBook link up this month. (Visit her original post here.)

Now, let’s get started!

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My husband has been reading Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne off and on for the past few months (he doesn’t have a lot of spare time for reading, due to his work schedule). I haven’t read any of Jules Verne, sadly–something I really need to remedy if I’m serious about diving headlong into science fiction writing over the next couple of years. I’m looking forward to hearing his report and opinion when he finishes this one up!

 

 

 

 

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I am revisiting the Harry Potter series via audiobook during my commutes and times at the gym. I finished up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone last week, and have started in strong with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets this week. This is only the second “reading” I’ve done with the series, as I wasn’t formally introduced to the wizarding world until 2014, and I’m loving the opportunity to explore the intricacy of J.K. Rowling’s planning. I was aware of it beforehand, obviously, as it’s been the source of many an academic paper and literary discussion, and I noticed a lot of the foreshadowing as I made my way through the books the first time, but it’s interesting to see how even the tiniest details all point toward the end. If you haven’t listened to the audiobooks, you’re missing out on a treat. Jim Dale’s narration voice is a treasure.

 

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I’ve also started reading Ethan Canin’s A Doubter’s Almanac, an ARC I received from Netgalley some time ago that I’m only now getting a chance to read. The story follows Milo Andret, a mathematical genius, as he comes of age during his graduate studies at UC Berkeley in the alluring, seductive seventies. I’ve been studying quite a bit of literary fiction these days for the creative writing course I’m taking, so I was interested to see what’s out there on the commercial side of the genre. So far (about 5% in) I’m not super impressed, but we’ll see what happens.

 

 

 

What are you reading?

Add your link by clicking the #OpenBook image below.

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#OpenBook is a monthly link-up each first Wednesday of the month. Check out the rules here.

You can sign up for an Open Book reminder email, which goes out one week before the link-up.

 

Top 8 Indie Books You Should Read in 2016

We avid readers are all familiar with the books that are hot right now, aren’t we? When we browse our local bookshops, we head first toward that shelf just up front that house those coveted New York Times Best Sellers spots.

But what if I told you that the books found in the NYT represent only a handful of the great books out there?  That some of the greatest authors of our time may never have the publicity they need to get their title on that list?

I honestly believe that’s the case. I’ve discovered some of my favorite books over the past two years, ever since I started reading indie and self-published books. There are some real treasures out there just waiting to be found. So grab a shovel, and come with me! I’ll make sure to show you where to dig.

1. Stay With Me by Carolyn Astfalk

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Stay With Me is an inspirational contemporary romance that somehow manages to stay light and sweet while tackling difficult topics like propriety, communication, theology, sex, love, family, marriage, and the nature of sin, and without coming across as heavy-handed or preachy at that! You will fall in love with Chris and Rebecca as they fall in love with each other. If you’re looking for a feel-good read, this is the book for you. Check out my review of this book here.

This book can be found on Amazon.

 

 

2. Ophelia’s Muse by Rita Cameron

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Ophelia’s Muse is an elegantly written piece of historical fiction dealing primarily with the life of Lizzie Siddal, and her work as a model for the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, especially Dante Rossetti. This book rescued me last year, when after spending so much time working on my own writing I worried I would never be able to enjoy reading again. I was shocked to learn that this was Ms. Cameron’s debut novel, and I’m eagerly anticipating her next literary contribution. Check out my review of this book here.

This book can be found on Amazon.

 

3. Knotted by Quenby Olson

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Knotted is a quirky YA romance that follows Olivia Davies, an American teenager, as she journeys across the pond for her father’s London wedding. When she arrives, she discovers that her future stepmother, Emmy, is only a few years older than she is! As you can imagine, chaos and intrigue ensues as she struggles to walk the line between supporting her father and getting along with Emmy’s sneering snobby brother, Ian. Fans of Pride and Prejudice and contemporary YA lit will love the blending of old and new to make a fun, unique story everyone will relate to and love. Check out my review of this book here.

This book can be found on Amazon.

 

4. Under These Restless Skies by Lissa Bryan

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This book combines two of my favorite things, historical fiction and fantasy. Have you ever wondered what the court of King Henry VIII might have looked like if magic existed? Wonder no more. Follow this love story between Henry’s Fool, Will Somers, and his wife Emma, who just so happens to be a selkie. Filled with all the drama and intrigue you want from a story set in the tumultuous Tudor court, paired with the sweet love and fantasy Emma’s background affords, you won’t want to put this book down until the very last page. Check out my review of this book here.

This book is available on Amazon.

 

5. How to Get Ainsley Bishop to Fall In Love With You by T. M. Franklin20824759.jpg

 

If you’re in the market for a zany YA romance told from the male perspective, you’ve found the right book! Oliver Wendall Holmes (yes, that’s his real name!) is a shy, smart seventeen-year-old high school student determined to make his long-time crush, Ainsley Bishop, fall in love with him before they both leave for school. A quick, light read that manages to delve into serious topics. Age appropriate for all puberty survivors! Check out my review of this book here.

This book is available on Amazon.

 

 

6. Soulless Creatures by Katharine Grubb

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Soulless Creatures is part romance, part action/suspense, part metaphysical musings, and ALL eighties! Set on the campus of the University of Oklahoma in 1986, this laugh-out-loud hilarious story follows Roy Castleberry and Jonathan Campbell on their quests for glory and transcendence, respectively. Eighties kids will love all the rad references, and millennials will still enjoy all the hijinks these characters find themselves in. Check out my review of this book here.

This book is available on Amazon.

 

 

 

7. The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak

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This romance is cute, funky, and endearing in a way a romance involving boy bands and cancer can be. Stella will do anything for her sister, Cara–even if it means standing in line to get the autographs of a band she despises. But things get complicated when she realizes that the leader singer might like her . . . and she just might like him back.  If you enjoy YA books that give equal attention to romance and personal growth/family matters, you’ll love The Heartbreakers. Ali Novak originally got her start publishing the first version of this story on Wattpad, which is exciting to see for independent and self-publishing authors everywhere! See my review of this book here.

This book is available on Amazon.

 

8. The Business of Death by Leigh Teale

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Jacquelyn “Jack” Devlin has been lucky her entire life, but everyone around her has not been so fortunate . . . including her twin sister, Mallory. When Mallory decides to take fate into her own hands, she ushers herself into the great Beyond. Determined to make her sister pay for her good fortune, Mallory seeks out help from the head of the Department of Death and Demise, not realizing just how complicated the business of death can be. Ms. Teale’s debut novel is perfect for fans of speculative fiction–despite the macabre subject matter, the story isn’t overly gory or graphic, and it is more mystery and fantasy than horror. See my review of this book here.

This book is available on Amazon.