My Self-Imposed #NaNoWriMo to #write in a #summer of #motherhood. (Or, To Create in Bedlam II: Turbo.)

When Aionios Books offered me a contract, I lost all feeling in feet and fingers. I just waved my arms like Wallace scheming to land on a moon full of cheese.

Bo looked at me with a Gromit-ish eye roll, but was proud, nonetheless.

Part of the plan put to me by Gerri Santiago involved splitting my manuscript for Fallen Princeborn: Stolen into two books. She explained that the word count was a bit much for Young Adult.

150,000 words is too much? That’s only 600some pages of…you know, a debut novel from an author hardly a soul knows.

Okay, let’s split it.

The most apt place for the severance comes at the end of Fallen Princeborn‘s second act: the heroes have just battled one crew of baddies and are regrouping before the baddie crew arrives. With Stolen’s new arc set, Gerri has been helping me see areas where world-building can use more color, where pov voices require more definition–you know, the stuff I bother other writers about in my interviews. As Book 1 blooms all bright and pretty, Act III-turned-Book 2 looks more and more…wee.

I open the “book” and scope out its word count.


Uh oh.

Where’s the book?

A single act does not a book make. It introduces fresh villains, sure, but Book 2’s narrative can’t pick up immediately where Stolen leaves off without some fresh establishment of the core cast, touching up on the setting, redefining the voices of the protagonists and narrator, and bringing in EVERYTHING THAT MAKES A STORY.

Oh dear.

No, Writer Me, don’t panic. That’s still 50,000 words of material to utilize. Those characters who only got a cameo so they could be saved for later? Let’s flesh’em out now. That whole new breed we introduce but don’t really dwell on? Visit their realm and see what makes them tick. The new villains we get to meet in these 50,000 words? Give’em more words. Let them breed a bit more treachery, let them show their gilded goodness before their truly nasty mettle. And just what are these people, anyway? Let’s wade into the murky swamp of Magic’s history.

Thanks to the severance, these trying times for the heroes have a chance to be truly trying. Why cram all these dramatic moments together? This is a book, not a movie trailer.

But while Fallen Princeborn originally had eight years to mature, Book 2 needs to be rewritten in half a year while maintaining some semblance of motherhood over the little Bs, teaching, writing book reviews, website stuff, and more. These obligations are not going away. By hook or by crook, Book 2’s manuscript must be completed by June’s end.

That’s only, oh, another 50,000 words…the same word count challenge for National Novel Writing Month.  This means writing at 1700 words a day, or fall short of the finish line.


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Ever try to write with a five-year-old sitting on your head?



Panic wastes time and energy. No.

I once wrote about writing and parenting with all three kids at home. Time to pull out the old plan and crank it up from past needs to present.

First, contact the school district and enroll all three in summer school. Now I have mornings sans kids for about half the month.

Next, dig through all the kid movies. What hasn’t been watched in a while? Save it. Use it during the first chunk of June. If the kids are engaged, they won’t fight for a couple of hours.

Talk to Bo. Work out any days he can get home early, or when home projects can be done on week nights so the weekends can be saved for extra writing time.

See how other writers maintain their NaNoWriMo-ness when NaNoWriMo ain’t goin’ on. Fantasy writer John Robin, for instance, has a great idea for maintaining the NaNo drive off the clock.

Yeah, there’s a deadline, and yeah, it’s frickin’ scary. Some days I might only get 1,000 words done, or even less, and then other days crank out an insane 5,000. The point is we can’t afford to think about the time we don’t have. We must embrace the race to write. Steal every minute we can. There will be stumbling blocks, there will be plot holes, but we’ll get to those in the editing. For now, it’s time to hurl ourselves into the story and run.





45 thoughts on “My Self-Imposed #NaNoWriMo to #write in a #summer of #motherhood. (Or, To Create in Bedlam II: Turbo.)

  1. I’ve known a few doorstopping fantasy novels that have appealed to the young adult demographic (LOTR anyone?) but I suppose your publishers are looking for a bigger YA audience from what is a debut novel. And if it can be marketed as ‘the first in a groundbreaking/thrilling/stunning new series!’ (even if it only consists of two titles) so much the better. For them at least, and maybe for you in the long run? Fingers crossed for you, at any rate! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, my friend! The series was originally going to be four books, so, you know, one more isn’t going to hurt. 🙂 And I should be honest with myself: if Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was as long as GOBLET OF FIRE, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up. “What on earth could be going on with that kid to warrant a book over 700 pages long? Yowza!” 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Jean,

    Thanks for linking to my post. Glad you found that approach inspiring. All the best with your rewrites. I thought I had it tough when both cats sit on my lap while I’m writing. Wow, you’ve got some resilience. Defonitely the makingsof an awesome writer 🙂

    (Ever want to join the sheet for some added team spirit, just give me a shout!)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wow, that really is an intimidating deadline! And yes, I can only imagine how caring for three kids might, oh, take up a little of your time and energy and cause a few distractions now and then. LOL! But you can do it, go for it! It sounds like you have a great plan. Good luck!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Go, Go Go! 🙂 🙂 Despite the pressure, it’s a fabulous ‘place’ for you to be in. I am so pleased for you!
    And some people work better with a time limit. I certainly do. Remember Douglas Adams’s quote about deadlines? “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”
    I have been told there are two books in my novel. I have much to do, so understand your situation, however, your deadline for the end of June??? As well as raising a family…? Yep, dust out the old plan that served you well before. I have no doubt you’ll do it. Keep the finish line in your mind’s eye – and don’t forget to come up for air from time to time! 🙂 xxxx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much, and I shall! Gerri’s been super kind about flexing the deadline, but dangit, kids and job and such aren’t going anywhere any time soon. There will always be an excuse about how time needs to be spent. No more excuses. No, the draft won’t be perfect by the end of June, but it’ll be way easier to clean up when it’s all one paper, right? We are DOING THIS! xxxxxxx

      Liked by 2 people

      • I hadn’t opened with the real moment of crisis in my novel. I was too busy combing Miss Protagonist’s psychology with a forensic backcomb, making sure she’s well rounded but hell, some of it just doesn’t need exposure right there, at this particular time, in this particular book. I need to deal with the ‘what’; the current situation that needs to be dealt with in this novel and I need to restructure my inciting moments to keep the reader pulled along with the story.
        The nature of the novel will bring the reader to the ‘how the F* come/why?’ and that will become the basis of my prequel. I have been told a couple of times that there are two books in my story. But in this second book, there’s an awful lot of cutting back and backstory dead weed still in there that needs digging out. Bloody weeds.
        So book two will sit on a back burner and because the book was written with two parts the actual split isn’t too complicated. But, oh, yes, there’s work to do. Hey ho! 🙂 xx

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hey ho, indeed! I had that same problem in the microcosm of a short story I’m writing as previews for my novel. In a short story, one can’t dwell on random details, right? But there I was, spending four single-spaced pages on dialogue that did some world-building, but gave no action whatsoever. It took 3 drafts to finally trim that crap down to one page and hit the primary action of the story. Hey ho, we’ve got to go! 🙂 xxxxxxxxxxx

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Seems to me that you’ve detailed a pretty good plan – Yes, there’s a lot to do, but doesn’t the writing go best when the pressure is on? Things may have to adapt, but I think you’ll do it. What a great challenge to be set. Well done, and good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. So Jean I am so excited for you! I can relate to the quick influx of adrenaline facing a deadline, a tightening yet expanding, children, a husband, and you have a job also right? Praying for the words to fall into place where and when they are needed, just as God placed the millions of stars in our sky.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! June turned out to be rougher than expected: Bash had several problems at summer school, so I didn’t make my deadline. But I made progress. Gotta trust God’s plan, right? 🙂 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

      Liked by 1 person

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