It’s NaNo Time!

Hi guys! Okay, I admit, it’s been an embarrassingly long time since I’ve posted here. I would love to tell you I’ve been doing something amazing, like a book tour, but that would be a big, fat lie. I am simply lazy about blogging.

In any case, my favorite season is here, which always brings me new energy–weird, I know, given that winter is coming. Autumn brings beautiful colors, cooler weather, sweaters and boots, my birthday (hurray for cake!), squirrels eating pumpkins I never get around to carving, Thanksgiving (a food-centered holiday which is, of course, my favorite), and National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  If you don’t know about NaNo, it’s an event in which  thousands of writers all over the world commit to writing 50,000 words during the month of November. NaNo’s website provides advice, pep talks, and word counters, and local NaNo groups provide write-ins where you can meet actual people outside of your house and write with them.

I love NaNo, because it gives me the impetus to get a lot of words on the page, words I then massage for the rest of the year to turn into a book. Eventually.

Last night, I was on a panel of writers who have “won” NaNo (reached the 50K word goal) at the Cuyahoga County Public Library (such wonderful support for writers there!), sharing experiences with other writers who want to do the same. I came up with a list of tips I thought I would share with you.

1. Plan, just a little.

Some of us are planners, some of us are pantsers, and others are somewhere in between. No matter which one you are, do at least some planning. Have some details ironed out before November 1, such as:
• What is your setting? Contemporary, historical, futuristic, fantasy? City or small town?
• Who are your main characters? What are their overarching goals? What motivates them?
• If you’re writing historical fiction, have you researched the time period? If you’re building a new world, have you ironed out the basics, such as names, languages, places, technology, etc.?
• Map out the main events in your novel, the main turning points, so when (not if) you get stuck in the middle, it’s easier to get yourself back on track.

2. Discover how fast you write.

I learned this tip in an online class I’m taking this month called “How to Write Fast,” taught by Peter Andrews. (Super helpful, and I’d recommend it if you see it anywhere–check out his blog too.) Do this before you start: set a timer and write for 15 minutes. Write anything—a description of your dog, a dissertation on the weather, a synopsis of your story, whatever—just write for 15 minutes. Do not edit as you go. When the timer goes off, count the words you wrote. Multiply by four. That’s the number of words you can write per hour. That gives you an idea of approximately how much time you need to devote per day to write 1,667 words.

For example, I wrote 425 words in 15 minutes, which is 1,700 per hour. At that rate, I only need to write one hour each day to reach my NaNo word count. When you look at it that way it seems far more manageable and easier to schedule. Admittedly, it can be harder to write that fast when you’re trying to figure out where your story is going next, which is why #1 above is helpful.

3. Turn off your inner editor.

Seriously. Turn that sucker off. If you try to polish every scene during NaNo you will NEVER FINISH in time, or possibly at all. There will be plenty of time to polish later.

4. Write with other people.

I find writing with other people—whether in person or virtually—to be the single most helpful thing I can do for my productivity.
• Go to a NaNo write-in.
• Sprint with NaNo on Twitter (@NaNoWordSprints).
• Get together with friends to write in person and/or start a chat group on Facebook Messenger for sprints.
Savvy Authors has a sprint room; membership is free.
• My local RWA chapter, NEORWA, has an online workshop during NaNo for sharing ideas, sprinting, etc.  It’s free and open to anyone; you just need to register, which you can do here.

5. Winning isn’t everything.

Sometimes even if you plan, schedule, turn off your editor, and write with other people, the words just won’t come. I have done NaNo six times. I only won twice, and neither of those books has been published. I didn’t win with the three books I have published.  Do try to win, because it’s awesome and fun and feels fabulous, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t. Like many other things, NaNo is simply a tool to help you get words on paper. It doesn’t work for everyone.

My tips will almost certainly conflict with that of other folks, but no one technique works for everyone. Please feel free to share your own tips in the comments, and happy autumn!

 

About Marin McGinnis

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

The Romance of Autumn

It’s Autumn again here in Northeast Ohio. I adore Autumn. I love the crispness of the air, the smell of burning leaves (it’s illegal to burn leaves here, so I always wonder where that smell comes from…), fresh apple cider, pumpkin pie, hot soups and stews, warm, cozy sweaters. I love the crunch of newly fallen leaves underfoot, the rich color of the trees, and the dark, dark blue of the sky on a stormy day. It’s the season of my birthday, Halloween, the Annual NEORWA retreat, and my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.

 

I tend not to focus on the fact that fall means winter is coming. Winters are pretty harsh here–last year was really a doozy–but living in Cleveland teaches one to live in the moment, at least as far as the weather is concerned. So I enjoy the awesomeness that is Autumn, and worry about winter later.

Pumpkins 2012

 

This year I have more reasons than usual to look forward to Autumn. In addition to my 50th birthday, this October brings the release of my second book, Secret Promise.  I started to write it in during NaNoWriMo in November 2013, finished it in November 2014, and it takes place largely in the fall, so I had many of the things I love about the season in mind as I wrote.

 

Here’s the blurb and an excerpt:

Secret Promise (October 30, 2015)

SecretPromise_w9701_750Falsely imprisoned as a blockade-runner during the American Civil War, Edward Mason yearns to go home. But when after seven years he finally returns to England, the life he expected is gone. His parents are dead, his home destroyed, his father’s legacy stolen, and his girl—his girl is now the single mother of a child Edward never knew.

Abandoned by the man she loved and disowned by her family, Anna Templeton has learned to stand on her own two feet and make a home for her son. Now the successful owner of The Silver Gull tavern, she’s not about to put their happiness in the hands of the one man who let her down so badly.

Edward is determined to regain Anna’s love and be a father to his son. But when a series of suspicious accidents threaten him and those he loves, he must stop the man responsible, or lose everything.

Available in ebook and trade paperback from The Wild Rose Press and Amazon. Also available for Nook and Kobo.

Excerpt:

She meandered back to the bar through the now empty room, scooting chairs under tables, watching Edward, who now sat slumped over his untouched drink. Lightly squeezing his shoulder, she leaned against the bar at his side.

“What’s the matter? Other than the obvious, of course.”

Edward snorted with little humor and did not look at her. “The obvious. Shouldn’t that be enough to make me cry into my bitter?”

“A different man, maybe. Not you.” She thought for a minute as she gazed at him. He was older, certainly; they both were. He was harder, more…careworn, she supposed, although the scar added an air of devilishness she had to admit was really quite appealing.

She reached out and traced the mark with her index finger before she could stop herself, feeling the warm flush of his skin. Edward barely stirred, just eyed her from beneath his impossibly long, dark lashes.

“But you’re not the same man you were when you left, are you?”

“No. And you aren’t the same woman, I imagine.” He grabbed her hand to keep it still. She could feel the beat of his heart racing through her fingertips. Hers was not far behind.

She pulled her hand away before she rushed headlong into something she wasn’t sure she was ready to do, and changed the subject. “You never did tell me how you got that scar.”

Edward rose from his stool, tossed a coin onto the bar. “No, I didn’t.” In a single movement, he pulled her to him, pressing his lips to hers. She closed her eyes, tasting. He was the same as he had been on the cliff top, or at least the way she remembered him. Salty, sweet, the slightest bit sour from his last drink, all mixed together with something that was uniquely Edward. She wanted to crawl inside him, become part of him again, just as she had seven years before.

She moaned, grasping him tighter, even as he pulled away. Her eyelids fluttered as her brain tried to understand the absence of him. He rubbed a finger along her bottom lip, his gaze burning through hers.

“Not yet, Anna. You aren’t ready to take me back. But you will.” He kissed her again, hard, then was gone. Her legs were jelly as she slumped against the bar.

“No, not yet,” she breathed into the empty room. “But bloody close.”

 

About Marin McGinnis

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

On Things That Go “Eww!” in the Night

I have The-Most-Disgusting-Dog-Ever.

Sure, Sneaky Pete looks adorable, and he is very sweet (and he did line up all his bones in a row ALL BY HIMSELF on the embarrassingly dirty carpet), but don’t let that fool you. He eats many disgusting things. He also eats things that aren’t particularly disgusting before he eats them, but are most definitely so afterwards. Last winter, we noticed an unusual uptick in the number of single socks in the laundry basket. In the spring, when the show melted, we found all the missing socks in the back yard, processed by Pete’s digestive system.  I was chastised for reporting on Facebook exactly what I had to pull out of the dog the other day, so I will spare you all.

But it got me thinking about gross things in general, which is apropos for Halloween.

I write romance, so there’s very little gross in what I write. I don’t particularly enjoy reading disgusting or violent things, although if it’s a small part of a good story that’s okay. But I have an 11-year old boy, and he delights in reading about stuff that’s gross, even more so when he can read it aloud to me while I’m making dinner.

Sometimes I wonder what it is about human beings that we enjoy things that are base, visceral, bloody. I Googled “humans gross” and “why do humans enjoy gore” and learned that I am not the only one who has pondered such things, but I still don’t have an answer.

I had a work colleague once who adored horror movies, the gorier the better. She would wait until her husband and kids were out somewhere and she had the house to herself, then turn off all the lights and fire up the DVD. *shudder*

I, as you have probably surmised by now, am not a fan. In high school I saw Phantasm on a disastrous first (and only) date. Can’t remember the guy’s name, but I still remember that movie. In college I saw Don’t Look Now, a 1973 scary-as-hell psychological thriller with Donald Sutherland. To this day, 30 years later, I still freak out just a little when I see a kid in a red raincoat. I tried to binge-watch Supernatural, which is a great show, but just couldn’t take it–after the Bloody Mary episode I couldn’t look in a mirror for a week.

I will admit, however, to having a strange fascination with vampires. I read and watch them all: Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, Angel, and of course, Buffy. (Oddly, I have never been able to get into Anne Rice’s novels, although I have read a couple. Go figure.) I recently finished watching the first three seasons of True Blood–so good, but quite possibly the goriest, most disgusting thing I have ever seen on TV. Thankfully I was forced to stop because the remaining seasons weren’t free on Amazon Prime. I much prefer the way vampires died on Buffy–ashes, the outline of a skeleton, poof.

So what about you? Do you enjoy scary, gross, gore, or violence? Not so much?

About Marin McGinnis

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

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