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Tag: NaNoWriMo (Page 1 of 3)

Goodbye Tom Clancy and Breaking Bad

October is a great month to prep for The National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It’s a time to find or develop a story idea. I’m in the choosing stage. I have several ideas, and I need to figure out which one I want and can develop into a full-fledged novel.

What’s your basic story idea?

From the Homefront

We have still not been able to rent the house yet. We’ve met some nice folks who want to rent, but they have serious financial issues, a history of skipping out on a previous rental, or a spotty job history. We’re still optimistic.

As I reported last week I opted not to renew a contract to work for someone I did not like or enjoy working for at all. I thought I had a near lock on a new contract, but an 11th hour candidate appeared, a personal referral from someone in the group in which I wanted to work, and took the job.

Disappointed? Yeah. Defeated? Heck No!

Get back up dust myself off and keep going. My next job is out there and I’m going to get it.


In the News

In Tribute to Tom Clancy

Tom ClancyThis past week we said goodbye to Tom Clancy at the age of 66. It’s reported he died after a short illness. All the media talks about his novel The Hunt for Red October, which was also made into a movie, but my introduction to Clancy was Red Storm Rising. I read it toward the end of the Cold War. The premise and possibility of what it would have been like to be in a war with the Soviet Union was terrifying. Reading how it might unfold and the technology used, scared the hell out of me.

I read early interviews with Mr. Clancy. He was an insurance salesmen who wrote his stories every chance he got. He took his deep interest in the military, intelligence and technology and made a living writing novels about them. The genre term techno-thriller was coined to describe his stories.

In the early days of his success he was often contacted by the CIA and NSA wondering, for a guy who never served in the military, where he got the information he put in his novels. Clancy had to inform them it was all readily available in the public domain. He was later consulted by agencies and movie directors about his in-depth knowledge of military tactics and technology.

When talking to people who wanted to be writers Tom Clancy was forthcoming and blunt. Addressing attendees at one writing workshop he said,

“If your objective is to write a book, get a computer and write the damn book. Yes, you can do this if you try hard enough. It’s a lot easier than you realize it is.”

Never Give Up.

Gone too soon, but life well lived Tom Clancy

His latest (and last?) novel Command Authority is due out in December.

A Farewell to Breaking Bad and Walter White


A week ago today, after 5 very successful seasons and 10 Prime-time Emmy’s, Breaking Bad came to a grand finale. It was one of the most popular series of all time for AMC.

This was a great story from beginning to end.

A group of dedicated fans put some money together and bought this obituary announcement, in the Albuquerque Journal for Walter White.

Walter White Obit

Get Ready to Write A Novel

The Summer is over and Fall is here…You know what that means. Get ready to write a novel.

The National Novel Writing Month is almost upon us again. Do you have any story ideas you’re developing for those 30 days of writing mania?


Are you a Plotter or Pantser?

I found out years ago I need to outline. As a Pantser I’d never get too far with a story. I’d get stuck and stop. I finally succeeded at completing a novel length story as soon as I worked from an outline – even when it went off in new directions.

From the Homefront

I hope you all had a good summer. It wasn’t one of my favorite. We normally go on some road trips and weekend getaways in the warmer months, but it didn’t happen this year. This summer was about work – and not the writing kind.

My wife Loly and I spent the spring and summer renovating my old house, to get it ready for sale. We dedicated all our free time to the project, weekdays and weekends. I’d go there to work after getting out of my job. Loly is a teacher and she used her entire summer vacation to work on the house…every – single – day.

We turned a diamond in the rough into a gem. We poured our time, hearts, souls and a fairly large chunk of money into that house. When it was ready we interviewed realtors. Each of them provided market comparisons.

The results of the reports were a HUGE letdown. It showed that even with all the work we did, because of the current market here, we could not list and sell the house for what we needed it to sell for. Even worse, we couldn’t even make the money back we just invested in it. (Insert string of colorful expletives here) This took the wind right out of our sails. We were dispirited. It felt like all our time, effort and money were wasted.

At the same time I was working a job that was causing me tons of stress, paralyzing anxiety and sleepless nights.  I’ve never been treated this poorly in my professional career.

There were some serious obstacles to overcome.

I did a lot of soul searching.


Turning Things Around

Loly and I re-grouped on the house. We weighed all our options and decided to rent the house for a year or two until the market increased to the point where we could sell it. It was listed last Friday and we already have three prospects. One of them was even good.

Several years ago I worked a job I dreaded going to every. I put up with that for six years. Once I decided to get out of that situation I vowed to never again put up with a job like that. I decided there and then what I would and would not allow in my life.

Six months was long enough this time.

On Friday the 13th I gave my 2-week notice. I had no other job lined up.

The same day I gave my notice I began networking and applying for other jobs. I interviewed for two other jobs within the last week. Both look promising.


Writing Resources, Books and Self-Publishing News


Anyone who knows me knows I’ve been a fan of Stephen King’s books since I was a kid. For those who don’t already he recently released his latest novel (his 56th), Doctor Sleep.

It seems I’ve been reading about this coming for years now. It’s the sequel to The Shining. The little boy from that story, Danny Torrance, is all grown up now and he’s fighting more than just supernatural demons. Once I read it I will post my review of it here.

The Guardian (UK) recently interviewed Mr. King about the book. It’s a good article, but more interestingly he throws some verbal barbs at Twilight, The Hunger Games, and 50 Shades, but he does give kudos to J.K. Rowling’s latest novel The Casual Vacancy  – give the article a read, it’s very entertaining.



Ever hear of J.S. Scott? She was a respiratory therapist with no professional writing experience, but she had a passion for writing and romance. She was a complete newbie to self-publishing and had to learn everything. Now she’s a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author with her The Billionaire’s Obsession series.

Oh, and by-the-way. Jan just started self-publishing in April of 2012!



For those of you who like to write collaborative stories and novels, there’s cool online app you’ll want to check into. Editorially is a word processor and plain text editor, this is also a great collaborative writing tool.

  • Multiple writers can update a document or manuscript at the same time.
  • Invite friends and colleagues to view the manuscript and provide feedback
  • It prevents version control issues. Save versions on the fly. Compare them to see what’s changed
  • Take a look, it’s Free to sign up and use!


Keep Readin’  and Writin’




NaNoWriMo 2012 Is Done!

– 29 Days
– 51,888 Words
– 63 Hours of work

I did it. I completed my novel Brutal Life: The Warrior – my 9th novel in 12 NaNoWriMo’s in which I participated.

I validated the word count at the NaNoWriMo site and can now display my Winner’s Badge and Certificate.

Am I proud? Betch-yer ass I am!

It all feels good and different. Something’s changed for the better. By November 1st, of 2013 my intention is to be back with three self-published ebooks – in the Max Danzig – Brutal Life series – under my belt.

Lots of work to get done over the next 11 months – time to get cracking!

I’m happy and encouraged to see there are a lot of people who will continue to be on the NaNo Forums after tomorrow night. It’ll be nice to bounce ideas and comments off of other writer’s.


Winning NaNoWriMo 2012

Late last night I surpassed the 50,000 word mark for the 9th of the 12 times I participated in NaNoWriMo.

My NaNoWriMo Word Count

Oh I’m not done…yet.

When I get home after having my burger and two Old Fashioned’s at the Timber Grille, I’ll finish my novel tonight. If not tonight it will definitely be done by tomorrow after I get home from work. At that point I’ll have the word count validated and collect my Winner’s Badge and certificate.

Since my last post things got busy with the holidays (as it does with most people) and time to write was still a priority, but it came at a premium. I wrote in drips and drabs whenever I could – late at night before my brain shut down, or for a few minutes before going to work. When I finally had more time, I put my head down and wrote.

How did you keep up the pace through the holiday week?

Knowing you won’t have as much time to write during Thanksgiving, it’s always a good thing to use the time prior to that to build your word count higher so you don’t fall behind when you’re just too busy to write.

What are you going to do when you finish your novel?

I’m putting A Brutal Life: The Warrior on the shelf (so to speak) for the month of December. On January 2nd, I set a calendar reminder to begin the re-write process. After completing a couple of re-writes of the novel, it then goes to my First Reader, who also happens to be my wife, Loly – a language teacher – for editing.

As I’m going to self-publish my novel as an e-book, when my wife has put my novel through the wringer, I’ll send it out to a professional editor. While that’s being worked on I’ll commission a cover artist to create an ebook cover.

In the mean time, I’ll build my platform using this blog and a dedicated website for my novel, and get set up on Facebook and Twitter. Once the novel is done, I’ll release it in formats for Amazon, B&N and Smashwords.

While all this is going on – I’ll be writing the second and third book in the series. Yeah, I’ll be busy, but it’s the way I like it.

I have to make an appeal to my fellow writers – try to self-publish your own novel. At least in the beginning, forget the traditional publishers; it’s a hard, long road to travel with little to no reward.

Also please avoid the so-called self publishing businesses – most are an elaborate rip-off. Dave Gaughran just published an eye-opening post about this scam. I highly suggest you check it out: Simon & Schuster Joins Forces With Author Solutions To Rip Off Writers

See you on November 30th!



NaNoWriMo – Do You Have What It Takes?

So, you’ve made it halfway to the top of Mt. NaNoWriMo. Do you have what it takes to persist and get to the summit?

The ultimate summit may not even be to reach the 50,000 word count goal. The more important summit is that you worked and wrote for 30 days in a row – you never gave up. It matters less that you wrote 20,000 or 100,000 words. What matters more is that you put in consistent effort. It shows you have it in you to write a novel length story.

By this point, of the thousands of people who were excited to start this writing journey and were raring to go – half are now gone. The journey is arduous and has claimed many writers. They stopped, gave up…quit.

The reasons people gave up on their stories is as varied as the number of people who quit. There are many good reasons why they stopped. In general, the biggest reason is that life gets in the way. There’s just not enough time and there are other priorities more immediate and important. Others stopped because they didn’t plan or outline adequately and got bogged down – stuck. For others they lost interest or fell out of love with what they were writing.

However, through it all you found reasons to keep going. You overcame obstacles of time constraints, and found ways to prioritize your life in a way that allowed you to keep writing. Maybe you made writing a priority. You stayed with it because it is your passion, your compulsion.

The real test will be the next 15 days. Many will attempt to make the final push to reach the summit; only the most dedicated will make it.

A 30-day commitment to NaNoWriMo is a tough road to follow. A 30-day commitment to any intense endeavor is a tough road to follow. Not everyone is cut out for it. Does this sound like a challenge to you? Good. It is. Challenge yourself. Remind yourself why you are doing this and never lose sight of that goal.

The most important lesson NaNoWriMo teaches us is the habit of writing – every day – no matter what.

By writing every day you will improve upon your craft, and by continuously improving your craft you will realize your dream of writing for a living.

Between now and November 30th many more people will fall by the wayside and quit. Only the most committed and passionate will still be writing by the end of the month.

So, do you have what it takes? Is it in You?


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Writer’s Block – NaNoWriMo Week 2 Blues

You made it through Week 1. You were out of the gate like a shot and piled up an impressive daily word count. As the week wound down, so did your enthusiasm and your word count – and now you have writer’s block.

Writer's Block

Now you’ve got the NaNoWriMo Week 2 Blues. Here are 33 ideas you can try to help you get unstuck from writer’s block and back into the flow of story creation.

  1. Do like the Passion Pit song says: Take A Walk. For many writers this is enough to get the creative energy re-started. It quiets and organizes your mind. Go through your story – play the mind movie, direct the characters or let them show you what they want to do.
  2. Refer to your outline or draft, character and visual sketches, and the initial framework are your best friends. Always refer to them again if you’re stuck.
  3. Sketch and Draw. By drawing, you’re tapping into a different part of the creative mind and expressing yourself in a different way. This often helps to picture out what you couldn’t put in words.
  4. Find your optimal hour. What time of the day are you at your most creative level? Are you a morning person? A night owl?
  5. Get your blood moving – exercise, go for a jog or a swim, or lift weights.
  6. Go for a short road trip to quiet the mind and let it reorganize.
  7. Try meditation or aromatherapy.
  8. Eat clean, healthy food. Your mind does not function well on an empty stomach or too much junk food.
  9. Play some games. Role Playing Games (RPGs) are the best choice as they have a story line you need to follow. Good games with engaging story lines can trigger new ideas and strategies on what to write.
  10. Get rid of the term “writer’s block”. You manifest what you think about most. We decide how we want to think about things. Instead think about being a prolific writer, where your ideas flow freely and frequently. Concentrate on that.
  11. Get stuff done. If you have things in the back of your mind, give them the attention they need to get rid of that sense of unresolved urgency. You’d be surprised how taking the time out to run a few errands or taking care of a problem frees up your mind and puts you in a better mood. Then your mind can get back to focusing on your writing.
  12. Work on some writing prompts or exercises – get away from your story for a moment and loosen up the mind and get you to write things you would never write otherwise. Here are a couple of good writing prompt generators: JC-Schools – Prompt Generator; Seventh Sanctum Writing Challenge Generator
  13. Unplug the internet, don’t check your emails, and don’t visit your social media accounts. Shut off the distractions.
  14. If you happen to work well with distractions, listen to music, podcasts, audio books, etc. while you’re writing.
  15. Change your surroundings. Find a location which is comfortable for you. If you like a busy place with crowd and a lot of noises, go there. If you need quite, go to your library or a small coffee house, etc.
  16. Drink coffee or tea – caffeine is a great boost and will stir your mind and help you stay alert.
  17. Get sufficient sleep. There’s no point slogging through the night when nothing is coming out.
  18. Take a nap during the day. It can really recharge you. Your brain needs the rest – take a break. Make it a short nap of 15 – 30 minutes.
  19. Have a drink. A single glass of wine, beer or a cocktail can quiet a noisy mind and let you focus better. You don’t want to overdo this – 1 to 2 normal sized drinks max.
  20.  Talk to your writer friends/close friends, get their opinions. Look for constructive suggestions and drop those who are negative.
  21. Set a personal deadline – a lot of writer’s work best under pressure. Set a realistic, but challenging deadline for yourself.
  22. Instead of writing your story from start to end, write out of sequence. Go write a scene you’ve been dying to get to like a discovery, a betrayal or a fight scene – then fit it in the story later. This can really get you back in the swing of things.
  23. Talk to yourself. Some people might think you’re crazy, but saying your story out loud is a great way of bringing clarity to it and to explore different options. Sometimes ideas travel faster from the brain to the mouth than from the brain to the hand.
  24. Handwrite your story instead of typing it in your computer. This manual action can give you a greater connectedness to your story.
  25. Don’t be afraid to experiment, people tend to learn faster and better when they make mistakes.
  26. Work on more than one project at a time. It helps to minimize fear, monotony, and boredom. It seems to prevent writer’s block for many people.
  27. Ask yourself why and where you’re getting stuck? Focus on the specific issue and research all possible scenarios on resolving it. How if, What if, etc.
  28. Stop being a perfectionist throughout your writing process. Don’t edit – forget grammar and punctuation and just get the story down. There’s always time in the rewrite to polish it later.
  29. Pretend somebody important is a fan of yours like Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. Imagine writing for someone else who is interested in your stories. The urge to impress is a great motivator.
  30. Read books about the writing craft.
  31. Go see a movie. Pay attention to the storyline and see how it can help you with what you are working on.
  32. Find questions and answers from the community: Yahoo! Answers, NaNoWriMo, Kindle Boards – Writer’s Cafe, Wiki Answers
  33. Have some chocolate and surrender to your libido. Some de-stressing should do the trick.

Don’t give up hope and throw in the towel. Grab a fresh cup of coffee and get reenergized – you have a book to write!


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NaNoWriMo 2012 – Day 5 Writing Kickin’ Butt

NaNoWriMo 2012 Writing is Ahead of Schedule!

Toldya I’d kick some writing ass.

Here’s my NaNoWriMo ID: http://www.nanowrimo.org/en/participants/werner

Actually Day 3 didn’t go as I had imagined. Despite being in a great writing spot – beautiful, comfortable, and with an endless supply of free coffee – the words came hard and the story developed slowly. I was getting stuck on both dialogue and pacing. It wasn’t until after we were back at home that night that the writing went a little better. By the time I packed it in, I was still short of where I should have been.

Day 4: It went better, but so called “quick research” bogged me down. I know I’m not supposed to go into research – that you’re supposed to just get the story down – no matter its crap, but I’m one of those people where it sticks in my head and annoys the hell out of me until I fix it. So I did.

The writing has definitely been smoother – more in the flow. Why? Because I was writing an action scene – my favorite thing to write. I ended the day a little ahead of schedule.

Day 5: Last night I dreamt about my story – which is always a good thing. I got up a little earlier to empty my thoughts onto the page. It looks good. I can’t wait until I get home from work to get more of the story down and rack up the word count.

Here’s a little writing tip from Mr. George Orwell.

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NaNoWriMo 2012 – Day 2 Slow Start

It’s very uncharacteristic of me to have a slow start when it comes to NaNoWriMo. I’m usually off to the races and ahead of schedule. At least for the past few years.  

NaNoWriMo Slowsky

When I started my first NaNoWriMo, my kids were young and put demands on my time. Now, they’re grown and doing their own thing, I figured I’d have more time to write. However, with my new found freedom my social life has increased exponentially over the past couple of years. I’m not complaining, but it does make carving out NaNoWriMo time more challenging than when the kids were little.  

On NaNoWriMo Eve (Halloween night): My wife Loly, and I went to a wine tasting and costume party/contest – we didn’t win. I was dressed as a cowboy, my wife a Native American Indian (she really looks the part).

After sampling 5 wines and chocolates, we then went to a local bar where my wife’s son is the bartender. There we had shots and drinks like, Mexican Dracula, Frankenstein, Boogeyman and Monster Mash. All the while thinking how I was gonna hammer out at least 2,000 words when NaNoWriMo officially began at midnight. We left the bar after a few drinks, stopped at a Dunk’s for some coffees and went home to get ready. I was psyched and feeling good – raring to go!

I fell asleep while reading – before 11 PM. Such a dork!

Day 1: I got up early and wrote for a short while before going to work. After work I managed a couple hundred more words before we had to go to an International Dinner Dance at the school where my wife teaches Spanish. We got home; I made coffee, did my “get in the writing mode” ritual and was able to get in another couple of hundred words before I called it quits for the night.  

I’m under par 353 words. I now have to produce 1,679 words a day to stay on the 50k track. Thank goodness I have an outline to follow.

Day 2: More than likely I won’t get any story done today. I have to go to work soon, and after work we’re packing our bags and heading up to the New Hampshire lakes region for a language teacher’s conference. By the time we get to the lodge, it’ll be dinner time. We’ll be out at a restaurant, then there will be mixing and mingling with other conference goers for a while. I’m sure the drinks will be flowing. When we get back to our suite, there won’t be any writing being done tonight.

Day 3 is where I kick some story ass. The weather is supposed to be gloomy, Loly will be in the conference all day long. I’ll be in a beautiful and inviting writing space (picture forthcoming) with my laptop, coffee in my NaNoWriMo Novelist Fuel mug by my side and let the word games begin!

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Your Novel’s Elevator Speech

An elevator speech is where in 30 seconds you tell someone (preferably influential) who you are, what your novel is about and a follow up.

So let’s say you’re at a book expo or writer’s conference. You get on an elevator to head back to your room on the 15th floor of the hotel. As the door begins to close a hand reaches in and the doors recede. In steps J.K Rowling. The doors close and the elevator begins to ascend. Joanna (J.K.) sees you holding a manuscript. Smiling she says, “I see you’re a writer, what is your story about?”

You have 30 seconds before the elevator reaches your floor, and you have to get off as J.K. continues on her way. Make it quick, make it interesting and make it engaging.

  1. Introduce yourself.
  2. What is the title of your novel what is it about (keep it to 2 or 3 sentences)
  3. Follow up

Here’s mine:

Hi Joanna, it’s nice to make your acquaintance. My name is Werner; I’m the author of Ghostly Notes: Murder in Vermont

In my story a young man named Neil Bradbury discovers he has the ability to talk to the dead after a traumatic accident. In trying to solve an old murder with the help of the victim, he finds the killer is still living as a powerful and influential force in that same community. When Neil gets too close to the truth, the killer uses his power to finish what Neil started.

If you’d like to hear more, I’d be happy to sit down with you over a cup of tea and discuss it further.

I showed you mine, now show me yours!

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The Most Important Question of Your Novel

With just 8 days to go before the great verbal land grab known as NaNoWriMo begins, are you prepared for it? Are you going to just “play” at writing a novel, or are you serious about getting down a novel-length story in 30 days – and have a good time doing it?

If you’re serious and you’re still having trouble solidifying an idea for a story, try this approach:

The one thing that pulls everything together in a successful novel is identifying one pressing question.

This one question, better known as the Main or Major Dramatic Question, is usually a straightforward yes or no question which is answered by the end of the story

As an example, the major/main dramatic question in Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls is whether Robert Jordan will escape his seeming fate by surviving his military mission.

Identifying the major or main dramatic question of your story is a great way to stay on track as you plot, characterize, understand the motivation of your characters and help you focus during the revision process.

So tell me, what’s the major dramatic question of your novel? Let us know…


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