NaNoWriMo 2016 Round-Up

I am pleased to say that this year I actually won National Novel Writing Month! I completed the extremely rough draft of Ashwood at 50477 words. I know that there are a lot of things I’ll be changing when I start editing it next year, but … Hey. I won!

Ashwood was a lot of fun to write and this outlining process I’ve been doing seems to be working fairly well.

At least to get the skeleton of the book written, anyway.

About a year ago I took James Patterson’s Master Class on writing and one of the big takeaways I had was his outlining process, which I’ve been trying to implement. There are some things I like about it … and there are some things that I don’t like about it.

I’ve used this for three stories now; Torven, Dead Weight, and Ashwood.

Torven, my little novelette, it worked beautifully for. I was able to cut eleven chapters down to eight and had a lot of fun writing the story.

Ashwood, my romantic horror story thing, it also worked great for. I had an outline that had been brainstormed with another over the course of several weeks and, while I did change some things last minute, this outlining process worked wonders to see me to the finish line.

Dead Weight …


I don’t know what it is that went wrong with Dead Weight, but something was off. My knee-jerk reaction is to say that I had a lot of great ideas but when I went to actually write them they fell flat.

Or it could have been the fact that I was typing the first draft instead of hand writing it. That’s the only difference I had between Dead Weight and the others.

Why yes, that means I hand wrote all of Ashwood in 30 days AND typed it up in time to win.

Because I’m awesome.

And I love hand cramps.

In any case, the outlining seems to be working. There are a few things I’ve tweaked here and there to make it my own process, but overall it works.

For those of you who participated in NaNoWriMo this year, whether you won or not, you’re awesome! Well done! I hope you got words on the page and that you love your story.

To close out this year’s NaNoWriMo season I think I’ll leave you with a snippet from Ashwood … In all its unedited glory.


“Oooo,” Marisol crooned, sliding out of bed and to her feet. She was built like a pixie, just a little over five feet tall with a spiral perm that made her chocolate brown hair bounce whenever she moved. “A social rescue. He just might be the one.”

One can only hope, Tessa thought, reaching into the hutch for her boots. But she said; “Based on six weeks of drowning in coffee and the worst possible introduction in the history of dating?” She shook her head. “We need more Intel.”

“And dimples,” Marisol said with a cheeky grin. She stretched her arms over her head, her every move fluid and graceful and for half a second Tessa was glad Brendon would be meeting her out front. The last thing she needed was to be standing side by side with Little Miss Size Two when he picked her up.

“And dimples,” Tessa said, agreeing with her friend. “But we still need more Intel.”

“That’s what a first date is for,” Marisol said, dropping her hands to her sides and sashaying her way to the opposite hutch.

Tessa had never moved like that in her life, which was a shame because she had a feeling her love life would have seen more action if she could. She felt another spurt of jealousy well up inside her, but it was short lived. Mary had the big amber eyes and porcelain skin every woman would die for, but she was also the sweetest damn woman ever.

Definitely a good thing Mary was staying up here.

“So how’s Psychology Guy?” Tessa asked, desperate for a change of subject.

Marisol’s rosebud mouth quirked up into a shy smile. “Good,” she said. “He’s really into this paranormal investigating stuff. He wants to prove it’s all a trick in our heads or something so …”

Tessa finished lacing her boots, realizing as she did so that they looked quite a bit like combat boots and frowned. Not exactly sexy, but her only other alternative was her sneakers and those were getting a hole in the toe.

Unsexy or poor and unsexy; the decisions she had to make.

But then she realized Marisol was watching her, neatly arched eyebrows raised in expectation like she’d asked a question.

“Soooo?” Tessa asked, already not liking where this was going.

“So we’re planning a paranormal investigation party out at the old Ashwood place and I really, really, really need you to come,” Marisol said quickly, clasping her hands in front of herself and giving Tessa a wide-eyed, entreating look. “Please.”

“A … what?” Tessa blinked, wondering what alternate universe she’d stepped into where she was being begged to attend a party. That hadn’t even happened in the Army and there’d been plenty of opportunity there.

“A paranormal investigation party,” Marisol said, abandoning whatever she’d been doing with her hutch to bounce over to Tessa, all animation and excitement. “It’s a party where we go through the Institute after dark and try to find some kind of proof that it’s haunted, or that it’s just playing tricks with our minds. We’ll record everything so Lundy and I can go over it all the next day.”

Tessa stared at her, speechless.

“You know, like Ghost Hunters,” Marisol said, beaming.

“And … uh … why do you need me?”

“Have you seen the Ashwood Institute? It’s huge! We need all the help we can get.”

Tessa’s phone blared, buzzing in her coat pocket, which was hanging by the door. She got up to retrieve it thinking; Yes, I’ve seen the Ashwood. It’s big and it’s falling apart and no one should go in there, especially after dark. It probably had football sized rats and bird-eating spiders lurking around. Hell no, she wasn’t going in there.

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