Books · Writing

NaNoWriMo: We Did It!

As we’ve reached the final day of November, it’s time to say goodbye to another year of NaNoWriMo. How did everyone do this year? Did you meet your goals? Fall in love with your new project? I’d love to hear more about what some of you have achieved this month, whether it was what you initially intended or not.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was doing NaNoWriMo this year, but not in the most traditional sense. While lots of other people use NaNo as a motivator to rack up their word count, I used it as an excuse to push myself harder and to get more work done than I normally would. I didn’t count words or start a whole new project, but I did make further progress on my second book, started/finished some short stories, and read/edited book one in its entirety for the third time. Considering how long it took me to do the last two rounds of rereading, the fact that I did it again in about two weeks feels like a major victory for me.

So what’s next?

Obviously, I will continue to work on book two and my short stories. (Thank you to those of you who left comments on the teaser story I posted last week. Don’t worry, more will be coming soon. 😉 ) Now that I am done editing book one again, I feel like it’s time to get some more eyes on it – maybe some beta readers and, hopefully, a developmental editor. Then it’s time to potentially start pitching the book to some smaller publishing companies and see if anyone is interested. It still feels like I have a ton of work to do before this series is ever ready to be seen by the public, but I’m still pushing along.

Cheers to everyone who participated in NaNo this month. Whether you wrote 5,000 or 50,000 words, you should be proud of yourself for participating.


Fantasy · Fiction · Short Stories · Writing

Parade of Lies

“The faeries are coming, the faeries are coming! Mommy, look! The faeries are coming.”

“I know, sweetheart.” Clarice Mayberry smiled sweetly at her daughter before taking a hearty swig from the flask hidden within the depths of her coat. Of course she knew about the faeries. It wasn’t like it had been Jenny’s idea to get up at the ass crack of dawn and take a train all the way to midtown just to see a couple of rubes wearing polyester wings. It had been her idea; she had only planted it in Jenny’s mind and used the poor girl as her excuse for getting up so early.

They’d only been waiting a quarter of an hour, but their fingers and noses had already turned red from the cold. Whoever thought it a good plan to host a parade in the middle of February was clearly a sadist or someone who just hated children. Or, rather, the parents of those children who’d been forced to escort them out to the streets of New York at eight a.m. on a Saturday.

“Mommy, can the faeries see us?” Jenny’s big blue eyes were rounder than usual, threatening to pop from her tiny porcelain face. She could hardly contain her excitement during the train ride. Her six year old mind could barely wrap itself around the fact that the characters from her favorite show were about to collide with her own reality. Clarice didn’t have the heart to tell her that the faeries about to parade down 43rd street weren’t even real.

“Of course they can see us, dear. Why shouldn’t they be able to?” she asked, but by the time the words came out, the girl had fixated her attention elsewhere. After another sip of “mommy juice” and a glance at her watch, Clarice finally relinquished her dignity and plopped down on the curb among the other chattering children.

People were beginning to pack in tightly on the sidewalks. Police and security guards paced back and forth along the street, keeping a close eye on the growing crowd, although none seemed particularly concerned that the group before them was the dangerous type. Clarice sniggered at the thought. Teens wearing brightly colored tutus and matching wigs tossed handfuls of free candy towards the spectators. Finally, at a quarter after nine, a man dressed in head-to-toe in blue came prancing up and down the street with a megaphone, announcing that the show was about to begin.

Clarice stood and took a tight hold of her daughter’s hand. Jenny bounced up and down on the heels of her feet with that crazed look in her eye that only a child intoxicated with copious amounts of sugar could possess. The ground beneath them pulsed with life as music blared from every direction. The children shrieked at the sudden appearance of hundreds of performers in leotards and cheaply made wings. They bounded down the street, waving impossibly long streamers, throwing confetti, and doing back flips over one another. Clarice’s stomach roiled at the sight of it all – at the “faeries” and the obnoxious theatrics. She still couldn’t fathom why the Cirque du Fae was so popular. Even as a television show, it was ghastly. She wished she could find the moron who created it and wrap her pretty little fingers around their neck. Yet, despite her disdain for the popular program, she showed up year after year to observe the annual parade celebrating all things faerie.

A woman with wings painted to look like a monarch butterfly’s came right up to Jenny and handed her a plastic flower from the basket slung over her arm. “Look, Mommy! I got a flower,” she waved the cheap decoration wildly in front of her mother’s face.

But Clarice was hardly paying her any mind. “That’s great, honey,” she muttered, keeping her eyes fixed on the throng around them. She craned her neck to scan the faces behind her, her brow knit in deep concentration. It was impossible to see properly, however, with candy and confetti constantly pelting her in the head. She squeezed herself closer to the barrier blocking the crowd and stared into the faces of every performer that passed, but they were all far too young.

“They have to be here,” she muttered. Forty-five minutes had passed already, meaning she was nearly out of time. “Come on, come on.” Her foot tapped nervously without her realizing. To anyone else, she simply looked like she was moving in time with the music.

“Ladies and gentleman. Children and faeries of all ages.” The echoing voice boomed from the loudspeaker from every direction. Clarice could hardly imagine just how much the tenants of the surrounding buildings must be enjoying the festivities at such an early hour. “Prepare yourselves for the grand finale!”

Within seconds a pink haze was creeping its way towards them, temporarily blocking view of the street and causing everyone’s eyes to water. “Oooh, it’s like the cotton candy clouds on the show!” Jenny declared. Clarice gripped the girl’s hand tighter to prevent her from wandering off and trying to taste the smoke to determine if it did, in fact, taste like cotton candy. Fortunately, the fog faded almost as quickly as it appeared, revealing the parade’s main attraction.

Jenny was rendered speechless as a giant castle rolled towards them, towering several stories high. The bottom portion of the float was designed to look like fluffy white clouds to give the illusion that the castle was flying among them. From each of the windows a faerie or other mythical creature popped its head out and waved. A clear platform jutted out over the crowd from halfway up the castle where a dozen dancers and acrobats performed tricks at once. Even Clarice, who had been doing her best to avoid the entire spectacle paused in her search to gaze up at the nerve wracking display. A female performer, the star of the show, came out and sent the children into a wild frenzy. With a graceful bow she opened her arms wide and revealed the papery wings that attached from her shoulders to her wrist. She looked more like a bat than a faerie, Clarice thought, just as the young woman dove head first from the platform and did a flip in the air.

Suddenly, an ear-piercing scream cut through the air, drowning out the music and laughter surrounding them. Clarice’s head whipped up towards one of the balconies overlooking the parade, where a man and a woman were engaged in a performance of their own. No, not a woman, Clarice observed. A faerie. Not a faerie like the imposters in the parade, but a real faerie. At first glance, she hardly recognized the female up on the balcony. Her appearance had changed a great deal since they’d last seen each other – her hair, once long and lush, had been cut to her chin and had thinned considerably. Everything about her was haggard and covered in filth. Even the large flesh-colored wings that protruded from her back looked like they had seen better days. Clarice’s hand covered her mouth as she watched the dark haired man struggle to restrain the faerie and pull her back through the window from which she came. Even from street level, she could see the fierce blue of the pendant around the man’s neck, bright and mocking her.

The next scream came from Clarice’s own mouth as she let go of Jenny’s hand and pushed her way through the thick crowd, through the candy, glitter, and bullshit. “NOOOOO!” she screeched as the female on the balcony finally freed herself of the man and took a flying leap off the balcony and towards the shocked crowd and the sidewalk below.

“Not again,” Clarice cried. Once again, she was too late.

Books · Writing

Redefining NaNoWriMo

As book lovers, writers, and bloggers, I am sure that most of you have heard of NaNoWriMo by now. (For the noobs: NaNoWriMo stands for “National Novel Writing Month.”) The last few years I toyed with the idea of jumping on the NaNo bandwagon, but always dismissed it as not being my thing. As November approached this year and NaNo fervor began popping up all over the blogisphere, I began asking myself “Why isn’t it your thing?” I’m a writer. I wrote an entire novel last year and am currently working on the second one. How is a month celebrating book writing not my thing?


This year I decided to give it a shot. I know for some the premise is to start a new project, but considering that I’m still in the early stages of book two, I figured just focusing on that would be enough. Well…as of today we’re halfway through November and I feel like an update is necessary.

NaNoWriMo: The Bad

By the beginning of week two I started remembering all the things that turned me off from NaNo in the past. Blogs, podcasts, and Twitter are rampant with talk of progress – specifically fixating on word count. According to the NaNo gods, everyone participating should be aiming to write at least 50,000 words (basically the entire draft of a novel) in one month. That’s 1,500- 2,000 words a day. No excuses. It doesn’t matter the quality or how good it is, you just put the words down anyway. You can delete it all later and start over if you have to. Just get the words down so you can brag about how many you wrote.

Obviously I’m exaggerating a teeny bit, but this is honestly what in hear when I listen to a lot of people talk about NaNo. It feels like the focus is on the word count, not the content itself or the process of writing a novel. Personally, I find it hard to wrap my head around this one. If I’m going to invest a good chunk of my time working on something, I want to put out something with a little more thought and quality. I know myself well enough to know that if I squeeze 50,000 words out in a month, most of it is going to be dribble. Maybe some people can use that dribble later and turn it into something fabulous, but for me it almost feels like I am just pushing myself to reach an arbitrary number. I like to take my time to do things that are important to me. I like to think, then overthink, then plan, then overthink again, then carefully pen things out. That’s just how the process works for me.


Another thing that irks me about NaNo is the fact that you’re expected to have enough time to pump out an entire draft in a month. Now, I don’t know about you guys, but having a full-time job (that isn’t writing) takes up the majority of my day. Then there are those other pesky things that get in the way: cooking, cleaning, taking care of kids/animals, reading/other hobbies, exercise, personal hygiene, sleep, etc. Some days it seems virtually impossible to sit down and squeeze out more than a few hundred words, if any. I suppose if your lifestyle gives you more free time this might not be a problem, but for me time is the biggest limiting factor when it comes to writing.

NaNoWriMo: The Good

I’m sure it seems like I’m bashing NaNoWriMo, but I promise you I’m not. I love the concept of writers all over the world supporting each other and mutually making an effort to write new novels. It’s a terrific thing. The gripes I have lie mostly within the pressure surrounding word count and the notion that you’ve basically “failed” if you didn’t write an entire draft. After a week of pushing myself and realizing that NaNo just isn’t my style I decided that I wasn’t going to completely abandon ship. Instead, I’ve been using NaNo as an excuse to push myself a little harder than I normally would. Some evenings that means writing for 30 minutes when I would normally say “eh, I’m too tired.” It might mean writing some lines or ideas down on my lunch break when I’d normally be reading or messing around on my phone. It might mean forcing myself to edit something I’ve been putting off or writing a short story set in the world of my novel. At the end of the month, I most certainly won’t have finished my second book but I will have done a lot more work than I normally would have, which is awesome.

To those of you doing NaNoWriMo and are diving hardcore into it: Great! Good for you! I hope something comes from all your endeavors, even if it’s only personal satisfaction.

To those who think they’re failing at NaNo or were too intimidated to even try: YOU CAN DO IT. Don’t let others’ goals, accomplishments, or word counts deter you. Get whatever you can out of it, regardless of what it looks like. YOU GOT THIS.


What are your thoughts on NaNoWriMo? Are you participating this year?