NaNoWriMo – Is it all fun and games?

I’ve written much here about the NaNo detractors, and the fact that most people doing NaNo (my totally made up number is 80-90%, based on reading the forums) are doing it just for the challenge, the same way others try a 5k race or a marathon, or to read a book a week for a year, or any other challenge that strikes their fancy. So detractors, just back off and chill! Ever heard of fun??

However, there are those of us who are serious about writing as a career, who use NaNo to produce quality first drafts of novels we intend to publish. For whatever reason, I write really clean drafts, and I write well really fast. (Great blog here on Random Writing Rants about writing fast.) That’s not tooting my own horn – I have nothing, consciously, to do with it. It just happens that way — I was as surprised as anyone when I read my first NaNo novel in late November and it was good. (Since I didn’t edit along the way, it was almost like reading someone else’s work!)

Since November 2011, I’ve worked really hard. I’ve written 4 novels in 3 genres, and a 130 page screenplay (how I’ll miss Script Frenzy!). I’ve edited and published 3 of those novels (more on that in a minute), and am in the beta reader stage of the 4th. I will be writing the follow-up book to that one for this November’s NaNo. I’m scheduled to release the first of those in mid-January, and should be able to release the second in February or March. (I’m going to Uganda in February, so it will depend on where I am with editing and where Streetlight Graphics is with the cover and formatting.)

For those who might question the quality, I’ve recently discovered Grammarly. I’ve been putting my most recent (August Camp NaNo) book through it a chapter at a time while it’s out with beta readers, and my average grade, using the “creative” filter, is 90%. And most of the “problems” are in dialogue, so really I’m averaging about 95%. All of that to say, I spend many more hours editing than writing, and try to produce a top-notch book.

So for me, while I enjoy the NaNo forums (my favorite thread to date is one entitled “How to ruin a cheesecake (tutorial)”), and love encouraging people to do it no matter what their personal goals, for me those 30 day chunks of time are work. They’re where the idea goes from a seed and scribbled notes to the first draft of a novel that I fully intend to publish. (No, I don’t publish that first draft, and neither should you!)

The bottom line is, if you are in the (totally made up) 10-20% of people who are using NaNo as a way to get a workable first draft for publication, then look at it as your job. Writing and publishing is a business. You may be an artist, but you will be a starving artist if you don’t approach your writing as your job. (I’m going to write a blog post on this soon, so I’ll leave it at that for now…) Have fun – that’s the number one rule. But also, be smart. Be thorough. Be professional. Be willing to write crap, but be willing to fix it later. (On the other hand, if you’re just doing it for the challenge, the only rule is to HAVE FUN!)

On that note, here’s The Hoard of the Doges. It’s actually the first one I’ve published that’s NOT a NaNo novel, although I wrote most of it in a month using the NaNo format. It’s the sequel to Solomon’s Throne, but it stands alone if you haven’t read the previous book. I think it’s really fun, and love writing with the Quinns and Mac. I hope you’ll read it and enjoy!

When her boss finds an Old Master painting buried under centuries of junk in a Venetian cellar, restoration specialist Rei Quinn is over the moon. When she gets kidnapped and the ransom demand is the painting, her enthusiasm understandably wanes. Along with her husband, security specialist Gideon, and their pilot friend Mac, the Quinns discover and decipher a map encoded in the painting. Taking off for Venice and her bygone territories, they begin the search for a treasure hidden since the Crusades. Hot on the trail are members of an ancient crime family, determined to finally claim the Venetian wealth. Who will be the first to find the hoard of the Doges?

The Hoard of the Doges is a fast paced adventure, whisking the reader back to Venice in the Middle Ages and forward to the Greek Isles and beyond.

For shameless self-promotion (it’s my blog, after all!), here are the other two books I have available:

Solomon’s Throne                               Undaunted Love








(We’re now required to put in this disclaimer for anything containing ‘NaNoWriMo’ or ‘National Novel Writing Month’:  “This is not an official NaNoWriMo site, and the content has not been reviewed by National Novel Writing Month. For more information on National Novel Writing Month, visit”)


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Filed under NaNoWriMo, Publishing, Self publishing, Writing

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