October 23, 2015

Two-time NaNo Winner!
Two-time NaNo Winner!

“Hey, kids! What time is it?” a character named Buffalo Bob once shouted.

Sparrow voices from the audience would holler, “It’s Howdy-Doody Time!”

Fast-forward *&%$ years later (ahem!). In a little over a week, NaNoWriMo writers or “Wrimos”, will flex their fingers and yell, “It’s NaNoWriMo time!”

Yes, indeed.  At 12:00 a.m on November 1, writers worldwide,  snacks and coffee beside them, will pound out at least 1,667 words, more or less, every day, stopping only on November 30 at 11:59 p.m.

When it originated, Chris Baty, author of No Plot, No Problem, and his fellow writers, started NaNoWriMo, short for  National Novel Writing Month, in July. According to Baty, the problem with having NaNoWriMo in July was that July was vacation season and the weather is still semi-balmy. So Baty and the bunch moved NaNo to November, when plunging temperatures usher in ice or snow, making our warm homes feel just right for a month-long write-in. Writers love to write at night, anyway. At least, this writer does.

In the past, my NaNo WIPS have been suspense stories. In MAN AFTER MIDNIGHT, an Internet predator calling himself  “The Man”, lurks on the “Man After Midnight” dating site as a drop-dead-gorgeous man to lure the main character’s teen-aged daughter into his web. In order to save her daughter, the protagonist must join the site, herself, and “date” the suspects until she finds the one.

In July, for Camp NaNoWriMo, I wrote THE KILLER MOST LIKELY, in which twin brothers — a convict and a class president attend their high-school  reunion hoping to reunite with the same woman, the convict’s ex-wife.

This time, for the fun of it, I’m trying my hand at fantasy. When I described my NaNo WIP to a student, he summed up CRIMSON FEATHERS as a “slice-of-life fantasy” about a homely and plump professor who meets the man of her dreams —  an Aztec warrior  — in her dreams. It is based on an actual dream I had in the late 1980’s. Now, after figuring thinking the plot over, I’ve decided to go for it.

Speaking of NaNoWriMo, even schools are coming up with their own NaNo presentations. Mine will meet in our campus library, every Tuesday night at seven o’clock for presentations and write-ins. Even better, the first one, on November 3, will meet on my birthday.

If you have always wanted to say you wrote a novel — defined by NaNoWriMo as 50,000 words — this is your chance. Prepare your character sketches. Build your “worlds”, and even dash off an outline or two, but the actual work must start no sooner than 12:00 a.m. on November 1.

Have fun making a royal  mess. Change the characters’ names in the middle of the story. Send New Yorkers off on an African safari in Central Park. Above all, jump in with both feet and have yourself a ball.

For inspiration, read Chris Baty’s No Plot, No Problem. As you learn how to write out numbers and eschew hyphenated words, you’ll giggle over his instructive silliness.

Okay, so who wants to join me in a month-long write-in? On your mark, get set, go!



With the NaNoWriMo marathon over, the inspired sweat beading on my forehead in November has evaporated. After hauling the Christmas tree to the curb, I dusted off my fast draft and began revising. I amped up the drama, created excruciating tension between my protag and her nemesis, sprinkled in more plot twists than a Six Flags roller-coaster, wrecked and  rebuilt my word count, cut flabby scenes, and fired my “little darlings”.

Whew! Now, with January hibernating in its cave until next year, February has emerged, slobbering and baring its yellowed teeth.

“Get offa dat Facebook, girl,” it snarls, scalding me with its breath. “Sit your fluffy butt down and set those keys on fire!”

At times like that, I have learned to say, “Yes, sir!”

February, a short month to begin with, will soon be followed by March and Spring Break, and then little old thirty-day April. Early in May, I will pitch my NaNo-suspense novel, MAN AFTER MIDNIGHT, to an agent at the DFW Writers Conference.

Since I have joined the WANA — We Are Not Alone — group on Facebook, I have watched them dream up and publish book after book while I languished, procrastinated, and lolligagged over my WIPs and wished I could be like them when I “grew up” until, about a week ago, she taught me a new acronym. DWIDI, as in “Don’t wish it. Do it.”

I intend to finish this WIP and its predecessor, once and for all, and do just that.