From NaNo to NoNo!

Dec 08, 2023 by HL Bernabe, in NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month is over, and I have never been so glad. The last two NaNo’s I managed to win, one of which was by the hair of my teeth. I completed last year’s novel, though it was very, very rough and still needs to be torn apart and re-written, LOL. But at least I got my ideas on the page and wrote something that was very difficult for me to write.

This year, however… This year started off really well. I had an outline and everything. I stumbled on the first night, falling asleep at my computer after only typing 55 words, but I more than made up for it in the following days and weeks. By the end of week two, however, I was in trouble.

I realized that my outline didn’t work, since I my book is supposed to be a cozy fantasy. In cozy fantasies, the stakes aren’t the fate of the world or saving the kingdom. The stakes are personal—the character’s relationships, their status in their community, their livelihoods. And, in my usual epic fantasy form, I had the characters trying to do cozy things among an epic backdrop. No, my MCs didn’t need to find out about and foil a treasonous plot against a king while they were trying to figure out their relationship issues.

This meant I needed to go back to the drawing board after having written half the novel. My mind drew a complete blank. I workshopped it with some writer friends of mine and they gave me some ideas, but my mojo flew the coop, along with my word count.

I pouted, fretted and got mad at myself, and many other stupid things besides. I finally made peace with bowing out of NaNo this year, and focused instead on reading a fuck-ton of books in hopes it would help center me. Or maybe even give me some ideas. I’ve read eighteen books and novellas since the 16th through today. Some were audiobooks, so I was able to listen to them while I worked. I love listening to audiobooks at work. I do that instead of listen to the radio.

What did I read?

Next up on my list to read are A Fellowship of Bakers and Magic: Adenashire Book 1 by J. Penner, Why Odin Drinks (Why Odin Drinks Book 1) by Bjørn Larrsen, Salt: Thalassic Series Book 1 by Liz Shipton, Technically Not Dead by Leah Jubilee, and One Dark Window (The Shepherd King Book 1) by Rachel Gillig. Those ebooks should keep me busy for the next couple of months. Audiobook-wise, I’ve got The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, 1632, As You Wish, The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry and a whole lot more to choose from in a TBL to library that keeps growing due to lots of little free finds and sales and whatnot. I have more than enough to listen to for probably all of 2024.

I’m trying to read a lot more independent authors, along with the more mainstream and highly acclaimed authors available via traditional publishing. Of those 18 books I read in the last couple of weeks, there might be only 3 or 4 big name authors in there.  

Anyway, after reading like crazy these last couple of weeks, I am feeling a little better. I can’t say I know what to do with my outline for the NaNo project just yet, but at least I feel a renewed sense of wanting to get my Dell Chronicles books finished. So I’m going to work on that until I get it done. (Until some other new shiny thing comes along to distract me.)