BookGoodies NaNoWriMo Flashcast with Anne Toole

Author Anne Toole joins BookGoodies hosts Deborah Carney and Karen Garcia to discuss Anne’s tips for participating in NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month.
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BookGoodies NaNoWriMo Flashcast with Lynne Cantwell

Author Lynne Cantwell joins BookGoodies hosts Deborah Carney and Karen Garcia to discuss her tips for participating in NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month.

See more from Lynn here.

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How to Use Deadlines to Accomplish Writing Goals By Nina Amir

Guest Post By Nina Amir

Deadlines, self-imposed or otherwise, provide writers with great incentives to complete their work. Without deadlines, it’s easy to simply muddle along producing only a little bit of writing here and there but never finishing a project. Without a deadline, you also could continue writing, editing or generally fiddling with your project forever, never getting it to a point where you deem it “finished.”

As a journalist, I have a love/hate relationship with deadlines. I dread them as they approach, but they force me to get my work done. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and deadlines make me stop and turn my work in. They allow me to go on to the next project, even if I think I could continue working on the last one and improve upon it. They make me a productive writer.

When it comes to my own books, articles and essays, if I’m not feeling inspired to write, a self-imposed deadline helps. If I attach it to something that feels more concrete — like having to tell my writers’ group if I met my goal in terms of time line — I tend to follow through more often. Thus, if you, like me, work alone and don’t have an editor or publisher actually waiting for your work, having an “accountability partner” helps gives you the incentive to meet your self-imposed deadlines. Many of my coaching clients pay me to serve as their accountability partner (among other things)!

While deadlines may not feel like positive things, they actually constitute gifts. So, give yourself the gift of a self-imposed writing deadline. Each month have a goal of finishing some writing project or at least some phase of a writing project. Maybe you complete one section of your book proposal, write two chapters of your book, finish three interviews for an article, or write the first draft for an e-book. You also can have a deadline a week rather than a deadline each month, or you can chunk it down further to a daily deadline, such as writing 500 words or one blog post per day. This will keep you moving towards your writing goals. (You can even blog a book by writing and publishing a post a day; you’ll be done in 6-12 months easily—if not sooner!)

This month you have the benefit of taking on two imposed deadlines: Fiction writers can participate in National Novel Writing Month (http://www.nanowrimo.org/) and complete 50,000 words in 30 days; nonfiction writers can participate in the Write Nonfiction in November challenge (http://www.writenonfictioninnovember.com), also known as National Nonfiction Writing Month (NaNonFiWriMo), and start and finish any nonfiction project in the same time period.

Without a challenge or contest to keep you going, here are a few tips for working with writing deadlines:

  1. Chunk tasks down so you have smaller deadlines within your larger deadline.
  2. Use a calendar to keep track of your progress.
  3. If you have a word count to meet, figure out how many words you must write per day.
  4. Set up interviews early in the deadline period; email or call interviewees and let them know specifically your deadline–then give them their deadline, so they know that if they don’t meet their deadline they affect your deadline.
  5. Finish your piece of writing at least two days prior to the deadline to allow time to edit; this gives you ample time to get “distance” from the piece for a few hours or a day between editing phases. It also allows time to get additional or missing information for articles.
  6. Re-evaluate your progress half way through the deadline period, so you can make adjustments to how you are handling the project. Assess if you must speed up your work schedule.
  7. As soon as you complete one deadline, begin work on the next. If you have more than one writing deadline at any given time, divvy up your day to work on each project for a certain number or hours per day. Evaluate where you are on each project at the end of each day to assess if you are moving towards each deadline at an appropriate speed. You might need to table one project for a day to catch up on another. You also can work on one project per day, if you find that easier.
  8. If you get behind, take a day (or a weekend) to catch up.
  9. Try, if possible to get ahead and finish early. This allows you to turn in work early to editors (who really appreciate this).
  10. Don’t ever miss a publication deadline (at least not if you want to write for that publication again).

Whatever type of deadline you choose to use, use it to help you accomplish your writing goals.

About the Author

Nina Amir, Inspiration to Creation Coach, inspires people to combine their purpose and passion so they Achieve More Inspired Results. She motivates both writers and non-writers to create publishable and published products, careers as authors and to achieve their goals and fulfill their purpose. The author of How to Blog a Book, Write, Publish and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time (Writer’s Digest Books), Nina has also self-published 10 short books. A sought after editor, proposal consultant, book and author coach, and blog-to-book coach, Nina’s clients’ books have sold upwards of 230,000 copies and landed deals with top publishers. She is the founder of Write Nonfiction in November and writes four blogs, including Write Nonfiction NOW!, How to Blog a Book, and As the Spirit Moves Me. Sign up for a free author, book or blog-to-book coaching session with Nina or receive her 5-Day Published Author Training Series by visiting www.copywrightcommunications.com. Find out more about Nina at www.ninaamir.com.

Follow Nina on:

Twitter: www.twitter.com/#!/ninaamir
Facebook: www.facebook.com/InspirationToCreation and www.facebook.com/ninaamir
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NaNoWriMo Tips from Sharon A. Mitchell

What year(s) did you participate in NaNoWriMo?
Nov., 2011 and again in June, 2012 for Camp NaNo

Tell us if you won or not, and what you learned from the experience
I participated in the November NaNoWriMo, won and loved it so much that I also did Camp NaNo in June. I made the 50,000 words that time, too. My third attempt will be this November.

NaNo sparked my writing. Prior to NaNoWriMo I had only written articles for magazines, online sites and scholarly assignments at university. I did not believe I could try fiction. Some teachers started a NaNo club in their high schools. As a consultant in the school district, I volunteered to help but found myself in a dilemna. If I was encouraging these kids to go for it, how could I not put myself on the line beside them? So, I began out of a sense of duty, prepared to show the kids that trying is all right, even if you don’t quite reach that lofty goal.

But once I began, what fun! NaNo gave me three-quarters of a first draft. Even the editing and polishing later was not a horrid chore, because the bones of the story was there. The novel was listed on Amazon.com in late spring. By summer it ranked #1 in two categories with reviews averaging 4.7 out of 5. Take a peek at (http://www.amazon.com/School-Daze-Autism-Goes-ebook/dp/B0085HN9HQ/).

What specific advice do you have for someone attempting NaNoWriMo?
Just do it. Turn off your internal editor and let the words fly out your fingers. As Chris Baty, in his book “No Plot, No Problem” says about NaNo, all words count – good words and bad words, they all add up.

Think of NaNo as fun and the goal is not to create a stellar literary masterpiece. The more you write, the better you get and NaNo offers plenty of opportunity to practice.

If you’re scared stiff to try, as I was, read Lazette Gifford’s free ebook called NaNo for the New and the Insane. You can take a look at it here: http://lazette.net/free%20stuff/NaNoBook.pdf. It’s an excellent short book that will make 50,000 words in a month seem like something you actually just might be able to do.

And, if you try and don’t make the 50K word count, so what? Likely the sun will still rise Dec. 1st. You will have had fun, gained experience and become a better writer through your efforts.

In your opinion who do you think is a good fit to do the challenge and who is is *not* for.
If writing even an email is hard and you struggle to put your thoughts onto paper, then NaNo may not be fun for you. Although there are other ways. Perhaps you’re a person who can speak his/her thoughts well, even if you don’t like the act of writing. Then word recognition software might be a way for you to do NaNo.

Dragon Dictation by the Nuance company has a marvelous, free app for iPad and iPhone that eliminates all the challenges of tediously training the software to recognize your voice. Many people have success with it when they’ve not had luck with other products. Plus, it’s free! (https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/dragon-dictation/id341446764?mt=8).

If you’re a perfectionist, NaNo might not suit you. There simply is not time in just a month to critically edit and revise your work as you go. Instead, that’s what December and January are for. Get the bare bones down during NaNo then begin your revisions later.

Author Bio:
Dr. Sharon A. Mitchell has worked as teacher, counselor, psychologist and consultant for several decades. Her Masters and Ph.D. degrees focussed on autism spectrum disorders and helping kids to reach as high a level of independence as possible.

In a March 2012 announcement, the Centers for Disease control released their latest statistics on autism. One in eighty-six American children has an autism spectrum disorder and one in every fifty-four boys. Every teacher will have a child with autism in their classroom. Every coach will meet a child with autism. If autism has not touched your family, it will affect your friends or neighbours.

When parents, especially mothers, receive the news that their child has autism, they spend countless hours researching the subject, usually at night, after an exhausting day. There is a lot of information out there, much of it by competent authorities. But after a hard day of work and family responsibilities, who wants to read a textbook?
Writers are admonished to show, don’t tell. Kids with autism learn best when shown rather than “talked at”. Why not write a book that shows how a family and a school help a little boy with autism? Does a book have to be hard slugging for the reader to learn new things? Does learning have to be tedious? What if you could just read a good story and still gain ideas to try?

So, the novel “School Daze” was born – a light read aimed at a general audience. Yes, life with autism has it’s struggles, but there are strengths as well and the fun parts that any family experiences. The book’s full of the challenges inherent in autism plus strategies that make life easier for all concerned. It’s a story about a single dad doing the best he can.

Website(s)
Link to your author page on Amazon:10
Link to author page on another service

To Scared to Try – Guest Post by Dr. Sharon A. Mitchell

As a school district consultant, I offered to assist a group of high school teachers who were introducing NaNoWriMo to their students. That sounded like fun, but as I listened to the kids setting their goals and taking their huge step, how could I not put myself out there as well? Drats. This was more than I’d signed on for.

I’d heard about NaNo for years, but it all seemed too daunting. Write a novel in a month? Who are you kidding? With full-time jobs, a family, elder-care, plus teaching university classes, and doing volunteer work, who has time to write?

I came across a little ebook that changed my mind. Lazette Gifford has written a wonderful little book that makes NaNo seem within reach for even those who are scared to try. NaNo for the New and Insane (http://lazette.net/free%20stuff/nano.htm)

Unwillingly, and scared stiff, I entered NaNo and then had the time of my life. Although I’d written several dozen pieces for magazines, published hundreds of pieces at AllExperts.com and done academic writing, this was my first attempt at fiction. NaNo was freeing. To write that many words in four short weeks, I had to turn off my inner editor and just let go. It worked! The words just flew out of my fingers, easily surpassing the 50,000 word goal. But, then NaNo was over and the editing process began.

So, School Daze was born – a light read aimed at a general audience. It was fun for me to write and I hope fun for you to read. Yes, life with autism has it’s struggles, but there are strengths as well and the fun parts that any family experiences. The book’s full of the challenges inherent in autism plus strategies that make life easier for all concerned. It’s a story about a single dad doing the best he can.

I’ve been a teacher, counselor and consult in school systems. I’ve been autism consultant for my province in Canada. I know what autism is like form a professional point of view and also a personal one – we have a son with an autism spectrum disorder, although he’s older now and away at university.

Autism now affects one in every 54 boys in the United States. As hard as it is to watch the child struggle, autism’s effects are also felt by his family, teachers and classmates. Every teacher will have a child with autism in her room. Every coach will have a child with autism on his team. Many families will experience autism in their home or neighborhood.

When parents first learn of their child’s diagnosis, they scour books and the internet, searching for information on how to help their son or daughter. There is a lot of information out there, much of it by competent authorities. But after a hard day of work and family responsibilities, who wants to read a textbook? I have my doctoral degree in autism, have taught at university on this topic, and keep up with the research in the field. But even I get tired of reading weighty books.

Writers are admonished to show, don’t tell. Kids with autism learn best when shown rather than “talked at”. Why not write a book that shows how a family and a school help a little boy with autism? Does a book have to be hard slugging to learn new things? Does learning have to be tedious? What if you could just read a good story and still gain ideas to try?

NaNo freed me to write the book.

After suddenly receiving custody of his five year old son, Ben must learn how to be a dad. That fact that he’d even fathered a child was news to him. Not only does this mean restructuring his sixty-hour work week and becoming responsible for another human being, but also Kyle has autism.

Enter the school system. Under the guidance (and bullying) of a gifted teacher, Ben and Kyle take tentative steps to becoming father and son.

Teacher Melanie Nicols sees Ben as a dead beat dad, but grudgingly comes to admire how he hangs in, determined to learn for his son’s sake. Her admiration grows to more as father and some come to rely on Melanie being a part of their lives.

Is it a feel good story? Well, sort of. In the end, the autism does not all go away. Instead, they struggle and grow and learn, plus, they do live happily ever after.

And life for this writer now? Well, since its publication School Daze – Autism Goes to School had ranked in the #1 or 2 spot in its Amazon category. It averages 500 downloads a week. That might be small #s for some authors but for this new author, it’s encouraging. Books two and three are now in draft form, waiting for that revision/edit stage.



About the Author:

Dr. Sharon A. Mitchell has worked as teacher, counselor, psychologist and consultant for several decades. Her Masters and Ph.D. degrees focused on autism spectrum disorders and helping kids to reach as high a level of independence as possible.

She’s written for dozens of magazines as is co-author of the Amazon bestseller The Official Autism 101 Manual. (http://autism101manual.com/).

Post Author Home Page Link

NaNoWriMo Tips from Robyn Leatherman

What year(s) did you participate in NaNoWriMo?
2011

Tell us if you won or not, and what you learned from the experience
Yes, I won with a word count of 51,000+ and the title was Bound By Cotton. It was my first experience, so I did learn a LOT. First, if you plan to write a historical (as I did), or any other project – that requires research – do as much as possible before November 1st. Research eats up so much time! This will require an outline, which I did not make last year. Chapter by chapter, outline (even roughly) how your book will evolve and do all the research you can think of beforehand, have it printed out in tidy worksheets or however you do your organizing. Second, back your work daily. I cannot emphasize this enough. (My computer crashed and I lost my winning manuscript.) Third, write every single day! Even if it’s not the word count you intended to reach, write every single day. This may involve keeping a notebook with you at all times so you can write in the car, waiting at the doctor’s office, on the school bus – or why not utilize your notepad in your cell phone? Fourth, make yourself a chart used to keep track of your word count. (I’ll place a pdf of the one I use on my website for free) Fifth and finally, have fun with this and tell people what you will be doing. It will not only place accountability on you to DO IT, but they won’t be calling/stopping by as much so you can reach your goal.

What specific advice do you have for someone attempting NaNoWriMo ?
Follow my advice from above :)

In your opinion who do you think is a good fit to do the challenge and who is is *not* for.
If a person wants a challenge, this is it. Unless a person is really ready to commit to writing at least 1670 words each and every day for a month, NaNo is not for you.

Author Bio:
Robyn’s historical fiction, Summer Rain: Getsikahvda Anitsalagi (The Removal of the People), based on Cherokee life prior to and culminating with the Trail of Tears,was released March 2012. Currently finishing the first of the “Rebellion” trilogy, a historical fiction series based on the Wet Mountain Valley in Colorado. 2012 NaNoWriMo will produce a YA novel, A Dolphin For One. Other projects include a contribution to the book, Rich Fabric-An Anthology, available on Amazon; proceeds of this book are donated in full to the Twilight Wish Foundation. For any other information, please see author blog/website.

Website(s)
Author Home Page Link
Link to your author page on Amazon:10
Link to author page on another service

Social Media:
http://www.goodreads.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&query=robyn+leatherman
https://twitter.com/RobynLeatherman

NaNoWriMo Tips from Jesse Pohlman

What year(s) did you participate in NaNoWriMo?
2010, 2011

Tell us if you won or not, and what you learned from the experience
In 2010 I really just sort of observed. In 2011 I set out to complete the 50,000 word challenge. I succeeded! I guess that means I won, after all; I beat myself and my own laziness. What did I learn? Ummmmm…Probably the first thing I learned was that the best way to force yourself to write is to write without solid structure. Plan when you can, but leave your plan open-ended enough that if another avenue becomes available, you take it without worrying about “Oh, is this going to break all my carefully considered notes?”

What specific advice do you have for someone attempting NaNoWriMo ?
Don’t.

Seriously, don’t. It’s not something you attempt. Even if you “fail,” you’re only challenging yourself. It’s an arbitrary challenge, at that. You don’t do NaNoWriMo because you want to write a book. You don’t do it because you have a need to conquer every challenge that comes your way. Challenges only have meaning when they help you get somewhere, and if you “just want to get through it,” or “Just want to give it a try,” then there’re other, much less painful ways I’d suggest you improve your writing!

That said…NaNoWriMo can be fun, awesome, and really help you learn a lot. It can help you learn, like I mentioned earlier, about notes. One important thing is to “break through” writer’s block by writing what comes to mind. Edit later. Second, I found that if you get a really good jump on the word requirement (Say, you get 10-15K out of the way within the first few days), and you can push ahead early while exploiting the strongest time of that “no solid plan, no corners to write into” sphere, you’ll have a pretty good shot of making it.

In your opinion who do you think is a good fit to do the challenge and who is is *not* for.
…Wow. Okay. Clearly the previous question jumped up to this one. The challenge isn’t for anyone who isn’t already versed in writing, it isn’t fit for anyone who just is bored and trying to kill time. It’s also, paradoxically, not for anyone who has no time whatsover. You have to write something like 3,000 words a day. If you can’t do that, even under the duress of a deadline (okay, an artificial one), then you’re screwed and it’s best not to try.

Author Bio:
I’m a newly-promoted 28 year old writer from Long Island, New York. I write a blog about my hometown, Freeport, that’s over two years old. My latest novel is Physics Incarnate. I’m working on other projects, and I have other novels out as well. I like to leave things up to the readers’ imagination; I lifeguard and work as an educator by day, write by night, and am always coming up with ideas. You do the math.

Website(s)
Author Home Page Link
Link to your author page on Amazon:10
Link to author page on another service

Social Media:
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4635949.Jesse_Pohlman
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jesse-Pohlman/163235123707589?fref=ts
https://twitter.com/JPohlmanWriting

NaNoWriMo Tips from Christina Li

What year(s) did you participate in NaNoWriMo?
2011

Tell us if you won or not, and what you learned from the experience
I won. I wrote just over 50,000 words during the month of November. I highly recommend doing this if you want to write any sort of book. It’s a great motivator. My teen-aged daughter and I both did it. We challenged and encouraged each other! She was able to write two 50,000 word books!
What I learned was that with a little discipline, it is absolutely possible to complete a novel in 30 days. In fact, I was able to complete one and start another. However, it does take discipline–daily word count goals and a good working plan.

What specific advice do you have for someone attempting NaNoWriMo ?
I’m not a ‘pantster’ writer. I can’t just sit at a computer and bang out a story that is worth reading, especially one that’s 50,000 words! My advice is to get a working outline of specific plot points in your story before November. Of course, you can change it, but an outline to me is like a map, point A to point B, or scene A to scene B to scene C. Know your characters. It’s okay if they change something on you. Don’t edit!!!! You just don’t have time. A great book (and blog) is Story Engineering, by Larry Brooks. His blog is storyfix.com. As much as possible, try to write every day. If you write roughly 1800 to 2000 words per day, you won’t have any problems finishing by Nov 30. Keep believing in yourself. This is great fun.

In your opinion who do you think is a good fit to do the challenge and who is is *not* for.
Our family homeschools, so that makes our time much more flexible. Some things will have to wait, but you don’t want to make your family your enemy. This should be fun. You may have to get the children to help with dinner. I think anyone who is a competent writer can do this. However, good typing skills is a must. It’s not a good fit for people who can’t carve out time. Also, good coffee is very helpful!

Author Bio:
Christina Li, BA, MA, is an author, journalist, inspirational speaker, and wife and mother of five. She homeschools her three children and two teenagers. Recently, she and her family relocated to the Northwest suburbs of Chicago to join the ministerial staff of The Life Church of Des Plaines. Besides writing, Christina enjoys a great cup of coffee, fresh roasted by her wonderful husband! Find Christina on FaceBook: www.facebook.com/ChristinaLiBooks. Check out her blogs! For encouragement and book excerpts: www.ChristinaCLi.wordpress.com For inspiration and information on writing and publishing your own books: www.ChristinaLiBooks.wordpress.com

Website(s)
Author Home Page Link
Link to your author page on Amazon
Link to author page on another service

Social Media:
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4625749.Christina_Li
http://www.facebook.com/ChristinaLiBooks

NaNoWriMo Tips from Jeff Davis

What year(s) did you participate in NaNoWriMo?
2011

Tell us if you won or not, and what you learned from the experience
I won. It was exciting and informative, not only about the craft of writing but about myself as well. I found that I could do it… I could write a novel! I had always been told to write, had always wanted to do more than ad copy and blog posts, but I needed a little push. I needed something to kick me over the line and NaNo was that kick for me.

I just couldn’t entertain the idea of failure. It’s one thing to be judged against another and find that they do it better. I can live with that. But, to set a goal and fail because I didn’t try hard enough was unacceptable to me.

The whole experience changed me. I have since published a novel, (not my NaNo story), and am currently working on the sequel. My involvement with NaNo has put me in wonderful company, and allowed me the opportunity to connect with many authors and writers from whom I can learn.
My experience is the beginning of a classic NaNo success story.

What specific advice do you have for someone attempting NaNoWriMo ?
Don’t stop. Don’t edit until the end. Keep writing. If the chapter you’re working on sucks, bail and start the next one. Churn, churn, churn out those words. When you get close to your mark, you can edit, but while you’re struggling at the 35k mark, just keep going.
I built a playlist of about 5o songs, and played it from the beginning every time I sat down to write. After a while, the opening notes of the first song set the tone and opened the door into the world I was creating. I used only instrumentals, so no words from the artists would interfere with mine.

In your opinion who do you think is a good fit to do the challenge and who is is *not* for.
If you think it’s for you, go for it. If not, you have your reasons. I’m not qualified to judge others.

Author Bio:
Jeff Davis has worked with some of the finest high technology teams in the business, and has delivered to some of the world’s most recognizable companies the high quality graphics, multimedia and print materials they demand, all over the world. IBM, Cable & Wireless, Target, Carrier and many more companies have experienced the benefits of Jeff’s artistic vision and solid work ethic.
He majored in art and design throughout his education years, and continues to regard himself as a student of the history and reinvention of popular culture.

As an author, Jeff hopes to bring his unique ideas to life in this medium.

A visitor to his studio office will be treated to the sounds of Led Zeppelin, Sheryl Crow, Kate Bush and traditional Celtic music. Jeff resides an hour north of Manhattan, N.Y. with his wife and two children.

Website(s)
Author Home Page Link
Link to author page on another service

Social Media:
https://www.facebook.com/NoodleBoosters
https://twitter.com/JDSavageTV
http://pinterest.com/jdsptv/

Read Jeff’s Author Interview here.

NaNoWriMo Tips from Joan Meijer

What year(s) did you participate in NaNoWriMo?
2010 and 2011

Tell us if you won or not, and what you learned from the experience
I won both times.

I learned that it is very difficult to discipline yourself to write 50,000 words in a month but very doable…

The best tool is writeordie.com it makes you write.

It is better to go into the competition with a solid outline, solid characters and a real idea of what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it….even if you are drafting.

It was easier for me to convert Relentless in to a book than to convert my second book which will require more cutting and pasting to finalize. Not impossible but time consuming. Things kept opening up because I wasn’t as tightly organized.

What specific advice do you have for someone attempting NaNoWriMo ?
Start outlining now. Work on characters. Know what you are going to do before the contest. It makes it much easier.

And don’t be worried if you have to drag yourself to the computer – even if you love writing that’s part of the whole thing.

I always listen to classical music when I write. It’s like Pavlov’s Dog – the music goes on I start writing.

Try to be regular during the competition. If you write best in the morning then if you can write when you’re fresh.

Truly writeordie.com is your best friend.

In your opinion who do you think is a good fit to do the challenge and who is is *not* for.
I have no idea who’s a good fit. If competition drives you you’ll probably do well. I like taking classes or participating in competitions because they provide me with more motivation than normal….But I write several thousand words a week every week anyway so it’s not difficult….and I still get really resistant some days.

Author Bio:
Joan Meijer is the author of over 20 books and 60 short stories under several pen names plus numerous magazine and newspaper articles and stories.

Her novels include:
“Relentless: The Search for Typhoid Mary,” “The President’s Dirty Little Secret,” “The Initiative,” and “Provenance”…. all available on Kindle and Nook.

Non-fiction includes:
“Date Rape It’s Not Your Fault,” “How To Write A Book That Positions You As An Expert In Your Field,” “The Character Book” also available on Amazon and Nook.

Co-Authored with Suzy Prudden books include:
“MetaFitness: Your Thoughts Taking Shape,” “Change Your Mind Change Your Body,” Starting Right,” “Suzy Prudden’s Itty Bitty Weight Loss Book,” “Suzy Prudden’s One Stop Diet Revolution.

Website(s)
Author Home Page Link
Link to your author page on Amazon
Link to author page on another service

Social Media:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Joan-Meijer-Author/172083459484702?ref=hl

NaNoWriMo Tips from Ricardo das Neves

What year(s) did you participate in NaNoWriMo?
2009, 2010, 2011

Tell us if you won or not, and what you learned from the experience
Yes, I have won every single year that I’ve entered the contest. Interestingly, every year I’m over-confident going in, and write quite a lot on the first and second days. On day 10 I feel like I’ve used up my ideas. On day 15, I’m typically struggling and writing just to fill my daily word quota, all the while thinking, “Why did I undertake this?” or “This sucks” or “I don’t think I want to write this story any longer.” Every year it takes some severe soul-searching (and reaching for every last personal and creative resource) before there comes a moment when I understand what the novel is really about… and then I write feverishly to the end, usually catching up fast for any deficit of words. Sometimes that has started to happen on day 20; sometimes on the 25th. But if I hadn’t continued to “clock in” every day to add to the word count, I would never have crossed the finish line on the last day. (And then, of course, had a first draft to start polishing within a couple of weeks of the end of NaNoWriMo.)

What specific advice do you have for someone attempting NaNoWriMo?
As a yoga teacher and as a writer who’s completed several NaNoWriMo novels, here are my suggestions for peak performance, from most important to least important:

1. Sleep well. Sleep better and longer than usual. Whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, allocate more time for sleep and you’ll find your brain not only less fuzzy but also filled with the sometimes surprisingly good ideas arising from that helpful co-writer, your subconscious. And yes, the premise of NaNoWriMo is that you’re writing a novel in addition to the million other things you’re doing in your daily life; and how can you do those, write the requisite 1700 words a day or so and allocate more time for sleep? Part of what a focused endeavor like this does is force you to live a more mindful life. You have to make moment-to-moment choices in terms of your time and activities; and maybe, just maybe, that level of greater consciousness might mean that paradoxically, you actually have more time in your day. Use that extra time not just to write in a balanced fashion; use it to sleep well.

2. Watch your posture. Sitting in a position that only after a few hours is noticeably uncomfortable is a sure way to make you tired, diminish your concentration and literary output and start a subtle association between exertion and your writing endeavors. It doesn’t have to be that way. Change positions often, play around with standing while writing (a la Hemingway), use an inflatable ball as your chair, switch things around with a posturepedic chair or just be sure to stand every ten minutes, even if for a couple of seconds, to reset your sense of how you’re breathing and how you’re positioning your body relative to your writing tool. Double all these suggestions if you’re using a laptop.

3. Get extra exercise everyday. The level of endorphins, physical energy, and ideas generated will make the time spent exercising a worthwhile, productive side endeavor. Dance, walk, run, swim, lift weights, do yoga – whatever gets your body physically balanced. No time to exercise? Forfeit cars, elevators, any form of motorized transportation that you can avoid. Sure, it takes 30 minutes to walk someplace that you could drive to in ten (if you figure parking and traffic lights in the equation), but by walking, have you lost 30 minutes or gained 10? I think of it in terms of the latter. If you already exercise daily or almost daily, congratulations. Don’t let it lapse: stick with it to derive even greater benefits than usual.

4. Eat well. Easier said than done, right? In the midst of adding a new thing into our lives, where do we find the time for anything other than take-out or frozen dinners? I’m the first one to concede that there’s nothing like the convenience of both of those, but it’s not “brain food” – stuff that nourishes both your body and your mental acuity. The solution? Make your own take-out. Once a week (especially during those times when your plot seems to go nowhere, or your characters are in mutiny against your well-crafted plan) cook a large batch of several dishes, package them, and make it simple for you to reach into the fridge and grab something that nourishes you. Junk food tends to be consumed first perhaps more on the basis of the convenience than their junky-ness; so make it convenient to eat good, tasty, balanced, whole-food items that nourish you and your creativity… and require no more effort than the less beneficial food.

5. Speaking of junk food… It’s easy to go overboard on the treats. If it’s hard to break the habit of reaching for something whenever you get to the point in the story where things seem flat, consider switching the sugary, carb-full treat for vegetables. It’s mindless eating, right? Since you’re mindless here, might as well make it mindlessly good for you. Or just get up and go do those other tasks from daily life and then come back (more in point 8 below).

6. Stay off the coffee. Sure, it may give you the necessary buzz to crank out a few extra hundred words, but coffee ultimately dehydrates you and takes its toll on your adrenals and the rest of your system. I’m not suggesting you quit coffee during NaNoWriMo, just that you don’t lean on it. If it’s a caffeine lift you’re after, try green tea instead – it’ll be easier on you and also give you a boost in the free-radical fighting department.

7. Restrict your media intake. You are breathing the rarefied air of the world your characters inhabit. News, TV, email, Twitter, Facebook updates and the like may be fun and entertaining, but they also split off your creative energy and crowd out the part of your brain where your characters live and develop. Each writer is different, of course, so this suggestion could not only not apply to you but be counterproductive if you’re the rare writer whose creative style thrives on overstimulation. But you might err on the side of less media, or being very specific about which media you choose, in order to give breathing space for your characters to develop. Creative media, on the other hand, may help to stimulate the imagination. The right music, the right visuals, the right book that you’re also reading, can be a source of what Julia Cameron, in her fantastic book The Artist’s Way, calls “adding to the well of creativity” – so we’re not just drawing out of the well, but also putting into it.

8. Find compatible and complementary activities for writing. Yes, dinner needs to be cooked, or the laundry needs to be done, or your child’s diapers need to be changed. Fantastic. Let the story and the characters continue to brew in your head as you take care of life’s details and then come back to where you were. Frequent mini-breaks can let your subconscious do the work for you. The key is to find compatible activities. For instance, for me getting lost in Wikipedia is not compatible with my writing: just like other media in the above point, it crowds out my creative impulses and tends to put me in a passive “entertain me” mode rather than the active involvement that creating requires. So the question is to welcome “no brainer” activities from your daily living that permit the story to continue to write itself in the background of your awareness so when you return to the keyboard, you have new things to say.

9. Other “take good care of your writer” areas include… drinking plenty of water while writing (it’ll keep you and your brain hydrated and will force you to change posture every now and then by running to the bathroom); using a neti pot on a daily basis (it’ll keep you breathing better and hence give you greater mental focus); eating a higher protein to carbohydrate ratio (it’ll keep you more alert and less prone to get the post-meal lazies); meditating (it’ll clear your mind and relax your eyes); and not making the novel-writing endeavor your be-all and end-all for the month: yes, you can get there, but with a mix of your other responsibilities, enjoying your friends, other good books, and life in general.

Does this sound like a lot to do on top of writing a novel (and leading your regular life)? Maybe. Do as many as you think you can incorporate with balance. But writing a novel in a month whether you’re doing it as part of NaNoWriMo or on your own, is the Olympics of Literature, and you’ve got to keep yourself fit in every area in order to get the necessary edge to compete and win.

Except in this case, it’s a competition against yourself, against a deadline, and against a specific word count.

In your opinion who do you think is a good fit to do the challenge and who is is *not* for.
Everyone can do it. But you need to be strategic about it and realize that you’re a better writer when you take better care of yourself.

Author Bio:
Ricardo das Neves is a screenwriter, novelist, and yoga teacher. At the tender age of 18 months he hinted his desire to be a writer when he reached for his father’s fountain pen and inkwell… And spilled the inkwell. The huge blotch he left on the table may be the only lasting mark he leaves on the planet.

Three years later he foreshadowed his lifelong spiritual quest when he demanded to know who this God person was… and has been fine-tuning the answers he got ever since.

In the interim years his talents have come to straddle the world of writing and the world of yoga. He’s a graduate of the University of Washington’s screenwriting program and has seven screenplays to his credit. He’s also the author of five novels blending spirituality and his own brand of quirky humor, and has published over thirty articles on humor, spirituality, and yoga. His most recent book is a light-hearted look at the world of yoga with Unenlightened: Confessions of an Irreverent Yoga Teacher. (www.UnenlightenedBook.com)

Website(s)
Author Home Page Link

Social Media:
https://www.facebook.com/ricardo.dasneves.1
https://twitter.com/spirithumor

BookGoodies NaNoWriMo Flashcast with Joan Meijer

Author Joan Meijer joins BookGoodies host Deborah Carney to discuss Joan’s tips for participating in NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month.

Read more tips from Joan here.
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