NaNoWriMo Day 29/30: Validating the Novel



All right my friends, today is the day.  The final day of NaNoWriMo 2012.  Many have finished their 50,000 words, some long since, some just last night.  And there are many who have given up or “stalled” as one friend put it, days ago.  For those whom have finished, I congratulate you!  What a wonderful achievement!  There’s nothing like that “accomplished” feeling, right?  Especially with something you really enjoy.  And for those who are so close but not there yet…push!  You can do it!  That finish line is so close!  As for those whom have stalled, I still hope you will make an effort today to put in some more words, even if you’re convinced you cannot finish.  But, if you’re only several thousand away, you might do it yet…  I wrote 10,000 words this month in less than 4 hours one day…you could do the same!  (Here’s my post on how I did it…maybe it can be of some help to you!)

In honor of the ending of this fantastic month of writing abandon, I will press forward in my own draft, despite being well over the minimum word count to win NaNoWriMo.  I never did finish the draft, and never hit that key event/changing point in the story.  So, that’s my goal today…to end the month on the high note with reaching that turning point in the novel “Mistress of the World.”

And this is how I’ll do it.

  • Set the lighting to the right mood (scented candles glowing, a warm yellow-colored lamp lit without harsh flourescent lights, and just sunlight softly coming in through the window)
  • Have a giant mug of lovely tea to drink
  • Have lots of water available for sipping throughout the process
  • No internet while writing
  • Take a few, short, energetic breaks (doing some squats and high knees) between words, as well as some t.v. breaks to chill and stop thinking during
  • Play the perfect playlist to lead to that key moment of the novel (this will be some classic early 80s/late 70s rock, since the novel takes place in that era)

Oh, and something very important: don’t forget to validate your novel before the deadline hits!


NaNoWriMo Day 28: Feeling Connected

With Justin, one of the boys I “paint” each night for the show

Right now I am in tech week/production week of “Babes in Toyland” at my local community theatre in Florida.  And this is the first show I’ve ever done when I’ve felt disconnected from the rest of the cast.  I contribute much of this to three main factors: 1) I have missed nearly every Monday night rehearsal because of praise team practice at my church, 2) it is a huge cast for such a theatre–50+ people!–and 3) I play the narrator (omniscient personality).  Finally, in the past few rehearsals, I have begun to felt connected to the other actors and even characters (with some additional blocking helping with that in one scene).  I’ve hung out with a couple of specific people backstage because of our roles in the show (entrances and exits most affecting this).  I attended a birthday get-together last night.  I started doing the make-up for a few of the guys and boys.  And we’ve been hanging out together in the dressing room, instead of spread out across stage or throughout the house.  And it’s amazing how much better I feel about the show, simply because of forming more and more bonds as we near opening night this Friday.

And tonight, I have started to see some applications for these concepts and feelings for my books.  I realized that the issue with my NaNo novel this year is that I have very little invested in it emotionally thus far.  Of course, not all books will grab my heart as much as others, but…they should all capture my imagination through the emotional connections.  As I’ve been writing “Mistress of the World,” I’ve felt more like the omniscient being overlooking the plot, than a first person autobiographer…so now, I know why it’s been so challenging getting to the meat of story, despite being well past the 50,000 word mark…  I haven’t felt the emotional connection with my “cast of characters,” much like I have felt disconnected from my fellow cast members in “Babes.”

With that in mind, I look forward to putting in an hour or two yet tonight, connecting with my characters in “Mistress of the World.”  Can’t wait to get to know some of these folks better!

What about you?  What are some challenges you’ve face with plot-line, characters, etc. during NaNo this year?

NaNoWriMo Day 26/27: First Autograph


my first autograph

Well, today marks another milestone in my writing career: signing my first autograph as an author!  Using a pseudonym, my signature is a bit odd-looking, but they’ll live.  And I’ll get used to it.  As I progress, it will become second nature to me, right?

What about you?  What are some of the milestones you have come to as an author (published or not)? Which one(s) stick most in your mind?

NaNoWriMo Day 25: Random Words

English: Cover of Dictionary of Foreign Words ...

English: Cover of Dictionary of Foreign Words by O. S. Melnychuk, 1974 edition. Українська: Обкладинка – «Словник іншомовних слів» О. С. Мельничука, 1974 р. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, I do mean it literally.  Tonight, I felt like looking up foreign translations for random words I love.  We’ll go with a writing theme.  Enjoy.

  • Writer=scríbhneoir (Gaelic)
  • Novel=roman (Croatian)
  • Pen=ploma (Catalan)
  • Research=navorsing (Afrikaans)
  • Notebook=bllok shënimesh (Albanian)
  • Word=slovo (Czech)
  • Fiction=fiktion (Danish)
  • Creativity=kreativiteit, productiviteit (Dutch)
  • Imagination=imahinasyon (Filipino)
  • Daydream=devaneio (Galician)
  • Future=Zukunft (German)
  • Story=favola (Italian)
  • Storyteller=storïwr (Welsh)
  • Book=kitabu (Swahili)
  • Hope=upam (Slovenian)
  • Time=masa (Malay)

Well, I hope you’ve found this slightly entertaining/educational.  I’m going to bed now, and expect to dream of foreign words flying across my pages.


NaNoWriMo Day 24: Get That Heart Pounding!

Image courtesy of digitalart /

Image courtesy of digitalart /

One of my favorite scenes in my book, “Nobody’s Girl” is the scene that makes my heart pound every time I read it…and I already know what’s going on and how the book ends.  But the reason I love it is because it does make my heart pound.  I love the moments when what I read takes over my mental/emotional process, and I lose myself in the story.  I have no control over my reactions…I cry, I weep, I blush, I whimper, I cringe, I laugh or even snort.  I can smell, feel, taste, see and hear the sounds and sights and textures of the scenes.  I can feel that hand of the imaginary character wiping the tears from my cheek or see that tanned fist handing me a tissue.  I can dance to the rhythm of Jack’s drums, feel the humming throb of Jamie’s bass guitar, hear the wah-wah pedal of Joey’s guitar whining away while Jeff’s keyboard sings to me.

And you know what?  Those kinds of scenes are my favorites in other people’s books, too.  So it’s not just bias.

If you’re still working away at your NaNoWriMo novel right now, I challenge you to make the next thousand words really count.  Tell your readers every smell, every touch, every sound and sight, every flavor in the scene.  Is that harmonious tinkling of the Bell Miner bird blending with the cries of the Magpies as they swoop down, sending your hair into your face as they attack you because it’s springtime and they’re nuts?  Is that maple syrup on the pancakes in the diner just across the Canadian border as sweet and sticky as she remembers from childhood when her daddy used to take her for breakfast every Saturday for their daddy-daughter date, back before he lost his arm in war and started stinking like a Scottish distillery?  Can your hero really smell the milky spit-up on his shirt and feel the plush red blanket in which his newborn son is wrapped, only two hours after his wife gave birth to him in an elevator when they got trapped by a maniac?  Does your heart stop when your protagonist’s cable car screeches toward a gap in the universe that didn’t exist three hours earlier?

A NaNo draft probably isn’t going to do all that (Kudos to you if yours does!), but you should have an idea for at least a few scenes where you might be able to really add some flavor and life to provoke actual physical reactions (crying, sweating, heart-rate changes, flushing, etc.) from your readers.  Keep your final days of drafting it out interesting by aiming for that!  Besides, going into that much detail will add heaps to your word count anyway.

NaNoWriMo Day 23: My Dad, My Inspiration

Dad and me at the Grand Canyon in 2006

Dad and me at the Grand Canyon in 2006

With everything from politics to missions work and school janitor to night-time novelist and international trade businessman, my dad was one of the few people that really kind of did do it all.  He traveled the world with his family, lived overseas, served in the military on three different occasions (including once so that they could afford the medical bills for my birth!), wrote poetry for my completely unromantic mother, and helped me play pranks on my friends in college 1,000 miles away…  He was a theologian, a teacher, an inventor, a daydreamer and visionary.  He couldn’t build anything (a trait that I received from him, thanks Dad), he couldn’t paint, he couldn’t take decent pictures (well, not with digital cameras anyway), and he couldn’t play a musical instrument.  He worked late hours for many years of my life.  And he fell asleep in church pretty much every Sunday.  Sometimes, I had to sit between he and mom with my sharp elbows to jab them both awake…

And yesterday was the 5th anniversary of his death.  It’s hard to believe he’s been gone so long.  And yet, I have gotten used to him not being around any more.  I realized this the other week when I drove home from some play or band practice.  It dawned on me that I no longer expected him to be home when I got there.  Anyone who has lost someone knows that that is harder, in many ways, than still expecting that person to be around.

But, no matter how familiar the void he has left becomes, he will always be my inspiration.  Whenever I write anything, he always comes to mind.  After all, he was my writing buddy, my hero, my best friend.  My daddy.

Dad and his younger brother fishing

Dad and his younger brother fishing

Dad's senior picture

Dad’s senior picture

Mom & Dad's wedding

Mom & Dad’s wedding

Dad in the navy

Dad in the navy

Dad carving a Christmas turkey

Dad carving a Christmas turkey

Dad loved dinosaurs! :)

Dad loved dinosaurs! 🙂

Dad at Yellowstone National Park

Dad at Yellowstone National Park

Dad with one of his grandsons, elk spotting

Dad with one of his grandsons, elk spotting

Dad and the rest of the family at his mother's induction into a local aviation museum

Dad and the rest of the family at his mother’s induction into a local aviation museum

Dad asleep on my bro's couch...yep, that was Dad for you

Dad asleep on my bro’s couch…yep, that was Dad for you

Dad and I Christmas caroling with people from church

Dad and I Christmas caroling with people from church

Dad with Mom, my oldest bro and his wife and kids

Dad with Mom, my oldest bro and his wife and kids

Dad with his grandkids

Dad with his grandkids

Real dad laughter

Dad loved to laugh, and loved making people laugh


NaNoWriMo Day 21/22: My Novel, “Nobody’s Girl,” is Now Available!

Nobody's Girl by Juanita Millhouse

Nobody’s Girl by Juanita Millhouse

Want to talk about inspiration for getting that novel written this month?  How about holding a printed copy of your novel in your own hands?  How about telling everybody you know that your novel is published?  How about being able to honor the memory of your father and writing buddy/hero by releasing your novel on the 5th anniversary of his death, on Thanksgiving Day?

That’s my story today as I proudly announce that today my novel, “Nobody’s Girl” is released to the public in both print and Kindle versions!

“Tess Brenner never would have imagined that she’d be in love with a rock-star. Of course, when she fell in love with Jamie Bennett back in fourth grade, nobody would have guessed the nerd with long hair would be one of the most popular men in the world just a few years later. But when Jamie and the band leave their hometown to tour the world, Tess must learn to live without that love. But can she? Will she ever forget the love that binds her heart to the lead singer of the Four Jays?”

To get a print copy, please check out my webstore page:

Or, for a Kindle copy, check out:


Happy Thanksgiving!