Thursday, October 29, 2015


The start of NANOWRIMO2015 is only three days away. I encourage everyone to visit the website and view all the support that is available to writers.

I will be participating in NANOWRIMO again this year, but like last year I will be doing it my way.

It was the teaming up with a partner as we worked on our individual projects and being accountable to someone I respected and didn’t want to disappoint that kept me going to the finish line. We are teaming up again this year and I look forward to finishing another Caitlyn Jamison mystery by next summer.

Doing it my way veers somewhat from the goal of getting 50,000 words down in a month. I learned a number of things writing my first mystery, and am now applying them to my writing.

I am keeping a chapter outline, adjusting it as I make changes in each chapter.

Using the “Show all nonprinting characters” icon I am clearing out extra spaces, and making sure formatting is consistent.

Using contractions when needed.

My way might not reach the 50,000 word goal, but it sure will save me hours (days) of time when I reach the finish line.

It doesn’t matter how you participate NANOWRIMO, the bottom line is – write!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Lavender Helps

Was it just coincidence that my Amazon order of an essential oil diffuser was delivered early Sunday afternoon, at the exact time I decided to tackle the great unknown, creating a CreateSpace account and loading my manuscript?

I was surprised to see the U.S. Postal truck stop by our house shortly after we arrived home from church. Although the notice from Amazon said the item was to be delivered on Sunday, I never thought it would – it’s Sunday!

But there it was and I immediately started it up in our office with drops of lavender essential oil being diffused into the air.  We needed it.

When I loaded my manuscript into CreateSpace, I realized the pagination was off, as well as the fact I didn’t have enough pages in the front matter. Back to the document. I added the correct number of pages into the front matter, and then worked on pagination. Only problem was even with a section break, whenever I paginated the main body, the front matter also paginated. Very frustrating. After a period of time trying different things, reading online help articles (read: no help), my husband finally said, “Let me take a look.”

He is more advanced in his technology knowledge than I, but we were both a bit frustrated after he tried all his tricks to correct the pagination.

After spending all afternoon fighting this issue he remembered how he had melded two documents into one for one of his genealogy monographs. That is what we ended up doing. We had three documents going, melding the front matter document with the main body document making a third. We then paginated the main body, and voila! It worked.

I tribute our ability to not let frustration and anger take over to the calming influence of the lavender filtering through the air we were breathing.  We got the job done and toasted to our success. Needless to say, we still need to learn how to use section breaks!

Lavender helps.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Great Danbury State Fair - Published!

Andrea Zimmermann with her newly published book

Last October my friend Andrea Zimmermann and I decided we would do our own NANOWRIMO. We would each work on our own writing projects and be accountable to each other by producing Progress Reports each week. After starting and stopping during the writing of my mystery, this was exactly the incentive I needed.

And so it went over the months. Each weekend I sent her my word count, page count, progress made, goals for the next week, and other writing projects completed with word count. For me it was my genealogy blog, Growing up in Willow Creek.  She did the same.

Andrea got a good start on her mystery, but then signed a contract with The History Press to write the history of the Great Danbury Fair. She wasn’t much enthused about this project at first (they approached her), but I prodded her along, and then once she saw photos of the fair and interviewed local folks who went or exhibited, her excitement grew.

This week she received a shipment of her book. She was tickled beyond belief and I am so happy for her. With my novel almost ready to be published, our NANOWRIMO collaboration worked!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


There are only twelve days until the start of NANOWRIMO and I’m not ready.

I learned a lot this past year while writing my first mystery. I learned that I need to do the prep work, like deciding on the geographic location, and writing good description of people and places. I need to develop character bios (and add to them when new characters present themselves). I need to keep a chapter timeline of what has happened in each chapter. And I have learned that sometimes you need the words that, had, and would. But I don’t need so many of “also.”

The NANOWRIMO website suggests the following:
Make a commitment to write each day;
Plan ahead, or not;
Review their prep resources;
Attend a webinar or tweet-chat in weeks leading up to November 1;
Interact with the NANOWRIMO community.

Over the next twelve days I will be busy fleshing out my characters and figuring out my plot lines so that when the calendar turns to Sunday 1 November, I’ll be ready to go.

In the meantime, I hope to get An Unexpected Death, a Caitlyn Jamison Mystery published!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Timelines for Writers

As a genealogist I’m familiar with how helpful timelines are to keep track of each individual ancestor. By developing a timeline for each person, the researcher can quickly see where the holes are in that person’s life.

For example, you find your ancestor on the 1850 census, but then don’t find him again until the 1870 census. Where was he during those twenty years? Did the family relocate, travel abroad, did the census taker miss them or misspell their name so much it became unrecognizable? That is an important hole to fill in your ancestor’s life.

As I work through what I hope to be one of the last final edits in my first Caitlyn Jamison mystery, I realized writers need to utilize timelines as well.

I have read through this manuscript so many times, one would think I could recite it by heart. Not so. Thanks to my first readers, I have incorporated a lot more information, deleted chapters, combined chapters, added description, etc.  As I read through the hard copy, I am reading slowly, inserting myself into the story in order to catch typos and inconsistencies.

I got to a part where I mention a senator and his supporters. I couldn’t remember whether the senator had died yet or not, and it was at that point I thought – aha – if I had developed a chapter timeline reference tool as the story developed, I could quickly answer that question.

When I first started this book several years ago, I did write up a short synopsis of each chapter as it was done. That’s a lot of work, and so I didn’t follow through when I redeveloped the characters and story line. I now know a timeline/chapter synopsis is worth the extra time it takes.