Sunday, November 27, 2016

Writing a book in a month (or two)

Recently I read the book, Write-A-Thon: write your book in 26 days (and live to tell about it) by Rochelle Melander. This book gives detailed suggestions for writing a novel in 28 days.

Since it was almost November and I was planning on participating in National Novel Writing Month, (nanowrimo) I thought this would be good preparation.

Melander refers quite often to Nanowrimo, but she gives hints that should help you complete a basic novel in less than a month. Amazing! Remember though, that this does not include the editing and rewriting after the month. She gives tips, exercises and inspirational quotes.

Much of the information is similar to books such as No Plot? No Problem! The low-stress, high-velocity guide to writing a novel in 30 days by Nanowrimo founder Cris Baty; Book In a Month, a foolproof system for writing a novel in 30 days by Victoria Lynn Schmidt and The Extreme Novelist, the no-time-to-write method for drafting your novel in 8 weeks by Kathryn Johnson.

Product DetailsMelander stresses planning your novel ahead of time and knowing what genre you want to write in. Each genre has its own set of conventions.

“Knowing the genre you are writing for can help you structure and write your book,” she writes. ““What do you love or hate about books you read?”

She recommends keeping a story bible, such as that used with screenwriting. It holds notes on all the planning for the novel, so it is easy to find what you need. Organization is necessary if you want to finish in a short amt of time.

To get ideas, start with what you know. This is advice that we have heard for years, but it is important to consider your experience, knowledge, training, hobbies, interests and possibly family secrets.

What do you wonder about: People, places, issues, events, facts and idea or everything? Do you prefer true stories or fiction? Other questions you should be thinking about include: What If? If only? Why? Why not? Wouldn’t it be interesting if….?

Remember, your characters must want something, have a unique point of view and they should change. You can portray them through description, self-portrait, appearance, actions, behavior, their habits, reactions of other people to them. You can reveal more through dialog and thoughts.

Decide where you are going to set your story. Setting provides the where and when of the action. It also creates atmosphere and mood, supports plot, and reveals character. Setting also can function as a character.

She recommends having some sort of outline. Details give you a road map for writing. Having a skeleton provides the broad strokes of plot. Before starting the month, consider: What am I writing about? Who am I writing for? Why am I writing this book?

This Write-a-thon book also includes information about planning for your non-fiction book. Many non-fiction works have less than 50,000 words, such as memoirs, How To books, essays, lists and quote books and Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff books.

She recommends keeping a project binder to help stay organized. You want as much information at hand as possible.

Again think about who you are writing for, why you are writing this book and what you are writing about. What are you passionate about? What keeps you up at night? What do you know about? Once you discover your passion, find your purpose. You have something to say. You have a unique point of view. You need credibility which you can increase by blogging, teaching, building a better platform and more. (read the book)

Design your book structure. An outline can help. Think of it like building a house, with plans for the foundation and framing.  Design your marathon schedule and prepare your environment, including clearing your work space.

Melander said it helps to monitor yourself. Since I am participating in Nanowrimo, I have been doing that and now that I have more than 45,000 words, I am encouraged and am determined that I will complete the 50,000 word challenge.

For more information about the other books I mentioned check out my blogs of October 21, 2015 and October 2013 and January 2015.

Melander quotes Stephen Covey, “Begin with the end in mind.” That is good advice for writing a book and a blog, so I will end here.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Devens, Dobson and Fall recap

In October, I wrote three different blogs and now have a little more to say about each of them.

I mentioned Autumn Glory in the blog about Fall. Happily, I was able to go to Garrett County with my daughter, grandson, son-in-law and his parents for that weekend. We rented a house on Deep Creek Lake, so were able to enjoy the changing fall colors, the peacefulness of the lake (off-season) and the festival activities in Oakland.

My daughter and I enjoyed returning to Dottie’s CafĂ© in Englanders, Our Town Theatre, Traders’ Coffee Shop, and many other past favorites of ours. Everyone watched the parade. My five-month-old grandson loved seeing and hearing the old putt putt tractors.

Garrett County, Maryland’s fall foliage has been drawing visitors to the area for years, especially for the Autumn Glory Festival. I have been to that event numerous times and am never bored. The entire weekend includes musical entertainment, plays, quilt and antique shows, and turkey dinners. There is something for everyone in the small town of Oakland and surrounding areas. Maybe in the future, my grandson will be able to take part in the Sundae Ice Cream Eating Contest. I love the Creamery’s ice cream and you can get to it by boat, as well as by car.


Recently I read Barefoot Beach by Toby Devens, Penquin Random House author, and really enjoyed it.  She mentioned “A writer is a witness to the world,” and she showed how to portray some of that in this book through the different people and situations.

Details, such as Old Bay seasoning and seagrass, took me back to wonderful times in Ocean City. Besides the wonderful stories about the lives of these three friends, it was interesting to learn a little more about therapeutic dancing, prosthetics, and turkish food an customs.

You can find out more about her at her website:


Author Sharon Dobson spoke about National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo). Writers try to write an average of 1,667 words a day to reach 50,000 by the end of the month.

Writers can prepare for Nanowrimo ahead of time by deciding on their story, making an outline and a timeline, but they don’t start writing until the first of November 1. At least I have made it more than half way there so far, but I need to keep those fingers moving faster if I am going to succeed in meeting the 50,000 goal.

Write-ins are held at various times and places during the month, such as libraries and coffee shops. I had my largest word count from the write-in at the Taneytown Library. I am heading for another one now.

The weather is about to turn cooler, so enjoy the fresh, crisp air and what remains of the colorful trees and flowers. Thanksgiving is coming so think of the people and things you are thankful for. I am thankful for many things, including the opportunities I have to write and for those who read what I have written. Thank you.