Stocked and Ready–Welcome NaNoWriMo 2013!


A teacup on a saucer.

A teacup on a saucer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The countdown to NaNoWriMo begins.  Less than 6 hours until she begins.  And I’m ready.  There’s a new box of my favorite tea bags (Celestial Seasonings Green Tea with White Tea [Decaf]) waiting to be enjoyed.  The Hawaiian Breeze candle is located nearby, with a stash of matches ready for lighting.  I’ve got my playlist(s) for writing set up…only 5 hours to go!  3rd Win for NaNoWriMo, here I come.

All the best to everyone doing NaNoWriMo this year.



Timelines and Perfect Endings


Reading (Photo credit: paulbence)

I love making timelines for my novels.  Especially during the out-lining process.  Suddenly, a story takes shape as the timeline reveals the moments in your characters’ lives.  You discover the year of their births, marriages, break-ups, big breaks, divorces, pregnancies, losses, graduations, adventures.  And then you learn the year that their stories end on the page.  In that moment, you realize how much you don’t want their stories to ever end.  So you know that you’ve got to give them the best ending possible.  The entire book leads to that last sentence.  And without that final thought, your book is nothing.  And you realize that perfect endings aren’t happily ever afters or neat little packages most of the time.  That passionate kiss, death-defying moment, or conflict resolved, that marriage proposal, farewell, new beginning or walk down the aisle does not compare to the life that woman will lead after the reader sets her story down.  And that her story is endless.  Every reader gives her a different next moment.  And different final ending.

Yes, I love timelines.  They tell the story without poetry.  A skeletal system of dates to be fleshed out by your mind’s eye as your characters cross the bridges of inspiration.  All leading to that perfect last sentence, which is probably an imperfect ending.  An ending that lets the reader discover the true rest of the story without you butting in as the author.  And that’s the best ending of all.

Final Steps in NaNoWriMo Prep

Image courtesy of Pixomar /

Image courtesy of Pixomar /

The book is chosen.

The characters are named.

The location is set.

The story is roughly outlined.

The calendar is mapped out.

The writing space is ready.

I have a lovely scented candle to get me started.

Yummy green and white tea awaits the mug.

And my friends know that I’m doing NaNoWriMo again this year.

Now, it’s time to finish up preparations.  Today, that means making the writer’s playlist.  And since I’m going with another “For the Love of Music” series book, I get to choose music that reminds me of the artists/bands in the book.  Real life artists list their influences.  My fictional ones get to as well.  And while they may not influence the actual style of the music in the books themselves, the artists inspire the characters, lyrics and storyline as we go along the NaNoWriMo road.

So, it’s time to sort through the artists/bands I’ve got on deck, and choose their best works.  After that, I create three playlists.

  1. Nostalgic/Emotional
  2. Upbeat and/or happy
  3. Chill/relaxed

Now, here are the bands/artists in the NaNoWriMo 2013 playlists:

Always Surprised


Surprised? (Photo credit: SaZeOd)

Other writers can relate, I know.  To that moment when your book turns on you.  And changes itself without your permission.

In my first novel in the “For the Love of Music” series, that definitely happened.  One character left during the rough draft  unexpected to ever surface again.  But then he returned in the second draft and never left my side.

In the very first book I ever wrote (unpublished and still unedited it, darn it all!), something similar happened.  A character I intended to kill off for the better of the book didn’t die.  Instead, his brother jumped in the way and took the bullet.  Stupid keyboard.  I kept trying to type the correct name, but the other name came out instead.  Time after time after time.  Grr.  My favorite character ever died, thanks to you, you stupid, stupid keyboard.

And a book I began crafting when I was about 17 did that to me last night.  I had a beautiful ending in mind.  I knew where the story would go as I continued roughing the first draft.  But, darn it all, the ending took a turn and surprised me.  Now, a different book doesn’t exist at all.

And then two books talked me out of including them in the “For the Love of Music” series.  They begged me to make them stand alone books instead.  And I finally agreed.  Just to get them to shut up, sure, but, we’re probably all better off that way.  At they are still around somewhere, so we didn’t really lose anything.  Right?

And, yet another surprise, my novels also talked me into writing a different one altogether than was suggested before.  NaNoWriMo will produce another rough draft of one of the books from “For the Love of Music” series.  Not “Little Miss Priss,” but a different one whose idea was birthed this week.

You books need to stop conspiring against me, at least for a week or two.  Maybe wait until after NaNoWriMo?  But, no, no.  That won’t happen.  That would be too easy, wouldn’t it?

Clearing the Clutter

Burning old journals

Burning old journals

As I pack up my entire life, I discover that minimalism is a good thing.  I don’t want to move all that crap with me from Florida to [place undisclosed at this time].  I’m learning to let go of things, which is pretty darn hard for a pack-rat/sentimental romantic like myself.

Old journals?  Burned now.  Hard as it was to toss them, I didn’t want to move all 50+ of them, only to never look at them again while they take up valuable shelf space.  I tore out the pages that contained my most important memories from college and camp counselor summers or poems, allegories, etc. that deserved preserving, and kept my travel journals to Australia, South Africa, Europe and Australia trip #2, but otherwise, they’re all gone.  The scrapbooks and photo albums come with me.  The souvenirs from around the world will grace my living room with an international flair.  But the other junk is going.  Even some of my precious books are finding new homes.  Something like 400 of them.

A trunkload of books I donated last week

A trunk load of books I donated last week

Reflecting on these things, moving forward in my life, saying good-bye to long time dreams and possessions, I recognize the value of this kind of attitude in my writing as well.  I did not keep those old notebooks where my high school writings stained the pages with tears and immaturity.  I didn’t  even look through the old ideas and jottings for books I’m still working on now.  I’m an adult.  Those scribblings no longer fit the maturity of my writing or person.  So, I said “Farewell” and tossed them in the burning pile with my journals.

As I move forward in life, I expect my writing to move forward to.  No longer the fanciful, day-dreaming romantic that hopes for the perfect anything.  I’ve experienced too much of life–too much loss–to still look for that.  And, I think, my writing benefits from that still hopeful, but no longer delusional little self’s passing away.   Too many details bog down the story.  Too much back-story burdens the reader.  Too much clutter spoils the story’s forward movement, just like it ruins mine.

So, good-bye childhood.  Good-bye adolescence.  Good-bye college days.

Hello real world life.  I’m Juanita.  I’m going to write some powerful books about you.  Nice to meet you.

At my first book signing, back in July 2013

My first book signing for “Nobody’s Girl” in July


Choosing the Book for NaNoWriMo 2013


Writing (Photo credit: jjpacres)

I originally thought of doing another book from “For the Love of Music” series (“Nobody’s Girl,” “Forever My Song,” “Drop Dead Daisy,” etc.), but since I have not finished editing books #2 & 3 for that series yet, I should work on something different this year.  I don’t need to keep collecting unfinished books in the same series, since you have to begin a new book from scratch (writing wise at least) for each NaNoWriMo.

So…let’s look at the previous projects and go from there.

  • NaNoWriMo 2010–did not complete, but wrote much of the 50,000 words for my historical novel “All the Stars By Name,” the first book in a three book series.  I have pretty much not touched this book since because of the need for more research into the era.
  • NaNoWriMo 2011–completed/won with a stand-alone untitled historical novel that I first conceptualized when I was about 16.
  • NaNoWriMo 2012–completed/won with the rough story of “Forever My Song” (titled, at the time “Mistress of the World”).

Since I have mostly been working on contemporary fiction and have felt a bit stuck of late, maybe it’s time to go back to another historical fiction novel?  I could do that…there are several in the queue, waiting for a voice.  Any of those might work…yes.  Of course, the other option is work on an entirely new genre, just for fun…like fantasy.  NaNoWriMo books don’t have to ever be read by anyone else. 😉

Hmm.  Choosing which book to work on this year might be tougher than I thought.  But at least I’m starting to form a list to work through.

  • The Star King (historical fiction)
  • Even the Winds and Sea (historical fiction)
  • In Need of Grace (historical fiction)
  • The Star King (historical fiction)
  • The Book of the Shring (fantasy)
  • The Antiquarian’s Gauntlet (fantasy)
  • A Song of Peace (historical fiction)
  • Sing Free Little Birds (historical fiction)
  • The Universe at Last (satire/fantasy)
  • Little Miss Priss (book #4 in the “For the Love of Music” series, if I get desperate)

Well, step #1 isn’t finished, but it’s well on its way.  That’s good enough today.

Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo 2013



This year, NaNoWriMo will be more challenging than ever for me. I will no longer be employed solely as a writer/non-profit worker setting my own schedule this year. So my process will be rather different this year. Especially as I am also moving out of the State in the first week of November. All the more reason to be more prepared than usual before November 1st hits this year.

In the midst of packing up my entire life, filming my first movie (as director/actress/singer), applying for jobs and many happenings in my personal life, NaNoWriMo preps will be challenging. So, I’m starting today.

My process this year:

  1. choose book to write this year
  2. research and choose character names
  3. research and choose location for story
  4.  outline gist of book
  5. set a generic calendar for completion for NaNoWriMo writing
  6. prep work space for days leading up to move
  7. keep a work space prepped and clean for writing once I move
  8. get some scented candles, matches, etc. ready for writing times
  9. get a few more yummy tea flavors for writing sessions
  10. tell closest friends that I’m planing to do NaNoWriMo this year and get their encouragement


Well…here goes.  Step 1.  Best of everything to all the other NaNos this year as you prepare!