2020 Novel Writing Month Completed

What an exciting month of writing November held for me. I chose to work on the prequel to Grandma’s Sock Drawer.

As expected, the writing journey had its moments when ideas seemed stale, action stalled out, characters became boring.

I’d say to myself, “You’re the one writing this thing! If you don’t like what’s happening, change it!”

I’d remind myself that writing Nano is more exploring, than settling down.
At the end of the month, if I like the story, I can work to make it the best. Nothing has to be permanent in the first draft. Everything can be improved. Thinking like this keeps me hopeful and excited about the story.

Even so, there were times I had to keep slogging along.
Then something clicked and things started to pick up momentum.
The story flew from my fingers through the last two weeks of November.

Characters asserted themselves on the page. (One day, for instance, my main character sat down and sobbed her heart out! I was so surprised!)

I found myself visiting familiar places with new twists.
Farms in need of planting,

meadows thick with wild, purple lupine flowers,

and spiraling tunnels in dark, echoing caves.

I crossed the Nano finish line of 50,000 words, plus, on the 27th.
But the story wasn’t finished, yet.

On December 2nd, the first draft was finally completed.
The thrill of accomplishing the Nano goal was surpassed by the excitement that I have for the beginnings of my prequel for Grandma’s Sock Drawer.

Yes, I have crossed the Nano finish line.

But only to start again.
A new goal.
A new energy.
A new commitment.
Polish this new story until it will shine in the hearts of readers.

I can’t wait to get started!

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2020

Write a novel in a month?

Crazy, right?

The challenge is to write your story in 50,000 words, in just one month. 

1,667 words per day for 30 days.

It’s up to you what you want to write about.

Besides the total word count, NaNoWriMo writing has one basic rule: No Editing!

November is the time: To Write.

If you like your story at the end of November, then you can edit. 

But for November, just enjoy writing. 

Always move forward. 

Don’t look back.

It’s exciting, frustrating, tiring, invigorating, revealing, requires discipline, and perseverance.

It’s crazy!

And I can’t wait to start!

Crossing the Picture Book Finish Line!

February 2020 comes to a close, with an extra day to finish the Picture Book Marathon. Once again, creating 26 picture books in a month was a rewarding exercise. More than half of my books were fiction, three were versions of ABC books, four played with numbers or counting, three were nonfiction embedded in fiction, and the others played with repetitive phrasing or putting a new twist to an old nursery rhyme.

Are they all prize winners? Of course not! But there might be a seed for a successful rewrite.

Was it easy?

Absolutely not! Some days I spent hours researching animals that I wanted to incorporate into my story. That’s one of the things I love about writing, I am continually learning and then try to pass that on to children in a fun and imaginative way.

Some of my favorite stories this month are those that are ridiculously fun. The impossible happens, the ridiculous runs to extremes, and by the end laughter has lifted child and adult reader beyond this ordinary world.

Another favorite of mine, was a counting to ten book I imagined my 18 month old granddaughter might compose. It was filled with all her favorites, such as ten wild blueberries on her purple plate, which she couldn’t resist eating, and replacing, again and again. When it came to her five favorite colors, they started out all different, but let’s be honest, her favorite color is orange. So she substituted orange for four of the five colors, allowing only yellow to remain in the group.

So you see, the Picture Book Marathon for me was a month to stretch my creativity within a set deadline while underlining my belief, that all learning can and should be fun.

You’re always a winner when you try.

The Year I Went Off Course

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I have run the Picture Book Marathon since 2010. But after 9 years of successfully completing the race, in 2018 I went off course for a very exciting reason.

November 2017, I had participated in my ninth Nannowrimo, (National Novel Writing Month). The fantasy middle grade novel that I wrote that month was one I knew I wanted to spend time and effort to revise and rewrite in the coming year.

The holiday season was a time to put aside the novel and enjoy family and friends. In January an opportunity arose to test the level of interest my novel would gather. Hurriedly, I rewrote and prepared the first six chapters to apply for the opportunity to appear on Kindle Scout for one month. 

Four days into February 2018, with 4 picture books completed, I learned that Kindle Scout accepted my submission. Starting February 5, 2018, the first six chapters of my book were available for people to read. 

 I was overjoyed! 

For the rest of February, people were reading my book! It was even called  “hot and trending” several days. There’s not a better feeling to a writer than to have his work read and enjoyed.

The rest of February was spent sharing this event with friends and family. That’s how I went off course in Picture Book Marathon of February 2018.

The positive feedback from that month supplied the energy to work on the novel to its completion. That’s the year I went off course from the Picture Book Marathon.

And that’s the year a whole new adventure began.

Picture Book Marathon

Yay! February has arrived! Today I begin writing for my traditional Picture Book Marathon.

In 2010 I stumbled upon a website that challenged picture book writers to create one picture book story, or at least the idea for one, for each of twenty-six days through February. I was looking for a new writing challenge since finishing my first NaNoWriMo novel in November 2009. That challenge was to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.

Writing a picture book a day seemed like it would be a walk in the park, after the demanding quota of 1,667 words per day of the Nano novel challenge. Writing 500 to 800 words or less seemed like a cinch

A piece of cake, I thought. And, as icing on the cake, you only needed 26 stories to match the 26 miles of a marathon, leaving 2 whole days in February to relax! (Unless it was leap year, like this year, then you had 3 whole days off!)

But the Picture Book Marathon had its own tests of endurance, in store for me, unique to writing for young children.

Though sometimes gasping for air, or clutching cramped writing muscles, I have managed to cross the finish line for 9 of these last 10 years.

More, later, about that one year I went off course. Right now, the starter gun has fired and I’m off to start my second decade of picture book marathons!