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A Summary of NaNoWarmUp, and news about Nameless

As announced in late September, this month I’ve been co-running NaNoWarmUp with Kat Zhang. The experience has been invigorating, and I’m pleased to say I’ve added more than 25k to Nameless!

Because I still get emails, comments, and sometimes FB messages from folks asking about Nameless, I added a comprehensive timeline to the Nameless page, so you can check that out if you’re curious.

Below are my personal charts for NaNoWarmUp!

I learned something really valuable through the experience, which is causing me to skip NaNoWriMo this year: writing to a time limit, such as a sprint, makes me write crap instead of valuable stuff. The past few years I’ve used NaNoWriMo to work on Nameless, and it was always crap. This October the pressure was lighter, and now I have 25k more words, every one of which I can keep.

Kat asked me to join her in aiming for 35k in November instead of the full 50k of NaNoWriMo, but I want to take part of this month to edit through what I have, do some brainstorming, and continue to move forward. My goal is to be done with the first draft by the end of December.

In other news, I went as Joan Holloway for Halloween. My hairdresser wouldn’t let me dye my hair red, so there’s that, and my hair is so thick and glossy it just wouldn’t stay put in a french twist, but other than that I have this outfit down. You guys may not know this about me, but… I’m kind of Christina Hendricks shaped.

Earlier in the month I went to the Southern Festival of Books and got to see Kat Zhang again, albeit briefly. We attended a session about MG Fantasy, and I recognized one of the writers as the person who was the handler for Sharon Creech last year. You remember last year, when I accidentally waited for Sharon Creech to emerge from the bathroom, then awkwardly hovered for a good long while without actually getting the chance to introduce myself?

Yeahhh… So I wanted to go up and explain to this woman what had happened, except… I just sort of… ended up awkwardly hanging around YET AGAIN because she was setting up for her session and I didn’t want to go on the stage to talk to her, and so eventually I just sat back down, clouded in a shame of my own social failure.

Can’t wait to try again next year!

<3, Savannah

PS: I’m putting together a list of gifts for writers so you can flesh out your Christmas lists, so check back soon!

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NaNoWriMo Live Blog Word War!

Read this post to understand what’s going on here. Essentially I and several writer friends are live blogging all day with our insane word count goals and progress!

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What I’m working on:

Adding new content to Nameless for what will hopefully be the last time. I’ve completed a humongous outline for the last 2/3rds of the book and all the remains is to write. Piece of cake… right?

7:00AM: My alarm clock is going off. This post is going live. I’m probably hitting the snooze button. I get to write in my pajamas today! Does anyone else find pajamas totally conducive to good writing? Maybe it’s a subconscious influence from when I saw Romancing the Stone at a really young age… or the fact that my mom teased me about turning out like that writer when I was a young adult…

Update forthcoming…

7:19: My cat cries for me to get up. I feed her quickly, let in the dog, and put on coffee. My hair is as poofy as a dandelion. Strap that sucker down in a ponytail.

7:25: Google ways to block websites from self on Chrome. Realize I can just use Mac Freedom. Facepalm. Check email.

7:28: Huh. I have no interesting email. What’s up on Twitter? Holy crap Kat already has 2k written! Damn her insomnia! I give her a little taunt to distract her when she wakes up. (You use *taunt*! You hope it is mildly successful!)

7:40: Yay, coffee’s done! Let me just comment on everyone’s blogs who’ve already started…

7:59: Slap on some mascara in case anyone comes to the door (Chances of this happening… about 1%). I may be pretending to be a full-time writer just for today, but damnit, I’m a professional!

As seen by my Blue Steel impression and special Alice in Wonderland mug below:

Now I have to go change out of my bathrobe. Nobody should write wearing a bathrobe. I am also now 2 minutes behind schedule.

Okay, I’m going offline. I’ll be back in an hour with over 1k, you’ll see!

Current word count: 0

8:30: Take minor break for more coffee. Check work email. Remember I still have leftover Halloween candy. Awesome.

9:04: Mom calls. Break for phone call! Ugh is this hour over yet?

9:07: Chris wakes up. I ask him if he finds my high word counts sexy. He says no. To this I say, “Pfhhht.”

9:08: Oh thank God this is over. I need a Twitter break!

Total word count: 2,145!!!!! Holy crap. Take that snitches!

 This is my ‘I’m so awesome you wish you were me right now’ face:

 9:24: Okay, going back under. See you in another hour!

9:27: Chris is up, and doing something on his computer that makes noise like a duck being hit in the face with a brick. I shut the office door.

9:38: Kat’s awake. She asks me via phone to modify something on the LTWF post, but I’m on Mac Freedom! A sudden sense of desperation overwhelms me. This no internet thing is scary! Writing is harder this time around…

9:40: Realize I’ve been writing in present tense again. Crap crap crap. Ignore it. I make a note to come back later.

9:58: Have a minor freak out to Kat via chat on my phone. My work is crap, this story is never going to work, this is all a waste of time. She reassures me. Maybe I’m too close to the project to really see what’s happening. I keep writing. Cue huge sigh of relief. I’m back in the groove. I can do this.

10:24: Whew done! Added another 1720 words.

Total word count: 3865

 10:38: I can’t take another hour-long sprint. 30 minutes then I’m breaking for lunch.

10:45: …I lied. Got distracted by a shoe site for people with huge feet like me! Starting writing again now, I swear.

10:55: Omg present tense is back again. Have I always written this story in present tense? I’ll have to open up my older chapters when it’s break time to find out.

11:16: 1,059 words added! I’ve always imagined that when full-time writers break for lunch, they make themselves a sandwich, so that’s what I’m going to do. See you in half an hour!

After having written 5k in one morning.

Total word count: 4,924.

11:43: Made a sandwich and had time to do my hair a bit. I now plan to visit my favorite celebrity gossip site and chill out before the next round.

Sandwich of professionalism! Tastes like VICTORY!!! (and pickles)

 12:02: I stole one of Chris’s Mountain Dews. This, combined with the three cups of coffe I had this morning, makes me feel like I am going to WIN ALL OF THE WORD COUNTS EVER!!! You’ve been warned.

12:33: Only 947 this round. Gee, I’m getting tired. I usually have a nap on my lunch break around 11. Totally overdue. Is it appropriate to nap during Word War day?

12:40: Kat is back at the writing! This means I have to scramble to stay ahead of her! But I want to naaaaaap :-( So I do.

Total word count: 5,871

1:16: get a call from work. The resulting scramble to find my phone leaves my heart rate elevated. Can’t sleep. Chris chats me on my phone (as Kat knows I’m forever forgetting to turn that off) and wants to know if we want to go to an Indian culture fair tomorrow. The answer? Heck yes!

1:30: Get email I need to respond to. Okay, okay, I’m up, I’m up! My body has so much caffeine in it anyway that it’s uncomfortable. I need to write 4k in the next 3 hours. Easy peasy. Let’s do this!!!

Tired and jittery after my faux-nap:

 2:16: I’m engaging in a gchat with the enemy (aka Kat). She confesses to feeling worn out. In all honesty I am, too. But my word count is far more mighty!

Total word count: 6,469

2:37: Broke 7,000 words! I have limited time before I have to go to Chris’s sister’s birthday. Can I make 10k before 5????

Total word count: 7,271

 3:02: Added another 1,208! I can totally do this!

Total word count: 8,479!

 3:21: This being a full-time writer thing? It’s fun. But man is this sprint exhausting. I think I’d enjoy it much better if I allowed myself to go back and edit. I’m pretty confident in what I’ve written so far, but I have left some absolute disasters of chapters in my wake. Funnily enough there was a lot I should have expanded on, but didn’t because it would take too much thinking to figure it all out, and the goal of today is to go, go, go! Added another 496. We’re in the last 1k here, people!

Total word count: 8,975

3:28: Minor break to check on my agent’s twitter and my favorite celebrity gossip blog again. I’m am totally pooped.

3:28: I swear my office is 10 degrees colder than the rest of the house.

3:45: Was just able to copy and paste a huge section from the previous version into this version. Can’t count pasted stuff though :-) Skipping ahead.

Total word count: 9,418

4:01: Well, my cat just threw up :-( Minor break to clean that up. Only got 463 words down. Final stretch, I swear! …omg I’m so hungry. Can’t wait for dinner.

Total word count: 9,881

4:10: went on a rampage and spun out 456 more words!!!!

DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS???

I wrote 10,337 words today! 

These fingers be flyin so fast they’re smokin!

And I am sooooo done with sitting in this chair! I’m getting up now to finish my makeup, put on real clothes, take the dog out, pick up a birthday card, and meet Chris and his family for a birthday dinner!

I’ll be making the rounds on the other participant’s blogs to brag in a second. Thank you soo much, everyone who participated! This was an AMAZING day!!!

<3, Savannah

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I’m live-blogging tomorrow with other writers! And you’re invited!

Just wanted to let y’all know that I’ll be live blogging here tomorrow with some other writers, including my friend, CP, and co-blogger at LTWF, Kat Zhang!

You can read about what this live blog consists of and see other participants here!

Essentially we’re establishing word count goals that we want to accomplish for the day, and then will update our blog post with our progress and snarky comments aimed at the other participants ;-)

My goal is 10,000 words (on Nameless)! :O

It’s going to be loads of fun; you can sign up on the link above to participate, or just check in tomorrow to see how the rest of us are doing!

-Savannah

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Camp NaNoWriMo and Renovation Projects

Camp NaNoWriMo started on Friday! I’m there under my typical username, planning to work on the Steampunk Cinderella story. Or I was planning. Because I kind of spent the first few days of Camp NaNoWriMo doing something else instead. Namely tearing apart my kitchen again.

Honestly this kind of works out. I’m thinking of postponing this writing until August when all the bells and whistles will be added to Camp NaNoWriMo, plus it gives me this month to finish out edits on Roses of Ash and maybe confront Nameless again. But feel free to write me a letter at camp if you’re participating, and I’ll check out your novel summary and excerpts :-)

Meanwhile, here’s the fruits of my labor over this holiday weekend:


Original pine-knot wood paneling. Gross.


Last summer; tore down paneling, put up sheetrock, installed new floor.


This last weekend. Installed wainscotting, trim, new closet door (hooray!) and painted everything blue :-)

So that’s what I’m up to and why I didn’t get anything written this weekend. Hope you all had a good and safe 4th of July!

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Completed First Draft of Antebellum!

Last night I not only won NaNoWriMo but I completed the first draft of the condensed version of ANTEBELLUM!!!

I made a big push to finish because I received a fan mail yesterday from a girl who had read the old sample chapter I had up on Fictionpress and wanted to buy the book to read more. Regretfully I had to tell her that it wasn’t available yet.

Receiving email like that always humbles and amazes me. I’ve been having doubts lately about the story and its ability to sell, but then things like that out of the blue remind me that all I can do is offer up my stories. Some people like them, and some people won’t. And if it doesn’t sell to a publisher I’ll either wait until I have more of a career established and try again, or I’ll sell it myself. Either way, this book is going to get out there in the world.

Writing the first draft of the [hopefully!] last version was a bittersweet experience. I got to be there again with my characters as they surprised me, but I also know that our journey together is coming to an end. Not today, not tomorrow, but soon.

Antebellum as a concept is 7 years old now. This September, actually. These aren’t just characters, they’re friends. In a way only a writer can understand, lol. Saying goodbye is going to be very hard.

But, on a lighter note, now that the bones of the first draft have been thrown down (and it’s so rough it might as well be Draft 0), now I get to go back through with a notebook and take notes on what needs to get fixed. I’ve got my emotional arc all kinds of twisted and wacky.

Also, it’s time to start thinking about a new title… I’m thinking NAMELESS. Thoughts?

EDIT: ANTEBELLUM is now known as NAMELESS

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Update: NaNoWriMo

I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year, and it’s been a very positive and educational experience so far.

On day 2 I received an email through the NaNo site, from a fan who’d read Antebellum back when it was on FP, and has been ghost-following me ever since. She said that watching my word count goal climb every day would inspire her to keep hers up.

Cue the ‘awwwww.’ And also the pressure.

That email has pretty much been a leading source of inspiration to keep me on track. Today is Day 7, and I’ve hit word goal every day except for day 1, when I wrote only 1200 words instead of 1667. Yesterday I wrote 3.7k. Here’s what I’ve learned from NaNoWriMo so far:

1) Writing is a pleasure.

I guess I frequently forget that I used to write for fun, not for duty. I can kick out 500, even 1,000 words a day over the course of several reluctant and distracted hours, but practically every sentence I take a ‘break’ and surf the net for a few minutes. Having to focus enough to write 1667 words a day meant I had to actually submerge myself in my story and pay attention. In the process, I re-discovered the joy of building up to an epic moment and then conquering it. Totally rapturous.

Writing this way meant that I’d write 200 words without even realizing it, then I got to update my wordcount and watch it grow every ten minutes. This really showed me the value of my time, and how all it takes is an hour of dedicated writing to meet my goal.

Then I thought, ‘If I can find one hour in the evening, why not two?’ I have a lot of free time today (supposedly), and I plan to spend as much of it writing as possible. After all, I need to catch up from the two weeks where I practically didn’t write anything at all.

2) I focus better with peer pressure.

My two good friends and fellow LTWF contributors katzhang and sjmaas and I started a Write Night event, where we all write for half an hour at the same time, then share what we’ve written. Mostly because we’re fascinated by each other’s stories and want to see how they’re developing!

The first time we did this, I didn’t take any internet breaks or anything, because I didn’t want to be embarrassed at the end of the half hour if I’d written 200 words and they’d written 600.

I highly recommend this ‘buddy’ system. Try to get three friends in on it if you can; two’s company but three’s a crowd after all, and somehow a number more than two makes me work harder than just two people.

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Overall, I’m having a great time, and if you haven’t added me to your buddy list already, do it now! My username is savannahjfoley (lol, what did you expect?).

How is your writing going?

EDIT: ANTEBELLUM is now known as NAMELESS