how I won NaNoWriMo in eight days (and hit 67K words in twelve)

NaNoWriMo 2018 Participant Flair

A few hours before NaNoWriMo began, I messaged one of my best friends because I was genuinely freaking out about writing my novel, The Darkness is Past.  I’d thought about it for so long that I was worried that I’d mess it up.  She responded with a reminder of one of my favorite writing quotes.

“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” -Shannon Hale

And it must have helped because I wrote like mad and won NaNoWriMo on day eight.  And I finished my novel of 67,009 words on day twelve.  I’d love to tell you that there’s a magic formula that you can follow exactly and you will definitely do as well (or better) than I. (And I know of at least two people who won in the first two days, so yeah.)  But all I can give you is some tips, what worked for me, etc.  Maybe it’ll help you – I don’t know.  Just do what works for you, honestly.

// PRAYER //

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I know prayer isn’t everyone’s thing, but it honestly helped me so much.  I prayed before I started writing The Darkness is Past and I prayed off and on throughout the writing process.  I want to use all my writing – but especially this story – to bring glory to God and to point people to Christ.  So it’s only natural that prayer is a part of my process.

// VIRTUAL WRITE-INS //

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I can’t say enough good about NaNoWriMo’s virtual write-ins.  I even hosted one myself!  I’ve participated in only two so far, but they are incredible when it comes to getting the words out.  I especially love the prompts (I’ve used every one I’ve been given) because they force me to think outside the box and lead to more interesting, inventive writing.  I would also recommend this list of great writing prompts and highly recommend that you include a cameo of the great Stan Lee in your NaNo novel this year because he passed away today and it’s a rather epic idea (IMO). (I put in three cameos so that, hopefully, one should survive the editing process.)

// STORY LOVE //

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I love my story.  It’s a dystopian retelling of the life of the Apostle Paul and I LOVE it.  At the risk of sounding prideful, I love the twist I’ve given such an inspiring, iconic story.  And I love my characters even if they’re only in rough form right now and I don’t understand them as well as I’d like to.  And because I love my story/characters, I loved writing The Darkness is Past.

// SPEEDY WRITING //

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I hope I’m not being arrogant or anything when I say I’m a fast writer – it’s just true.  I once wrote 5K words in eighty minutes (two Psych episodes) and it was glorious.  So squeezing 67K words into twelve days – while slightly crazy – wasn’t all that hard for me, believe it or not.  It was actually fun.

// FREE TIME //

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I help homeschool my little brothers, I have a freelance writing job, and also household chores but I also have gobs and gobs of free time.  Which obviously helps a huge amount.  But on one of my wordiest days – 10K – I wrote off and on in little bits and participated in church ministry and I still got the words in because I literally couldn’t stop writing.  The words tumbled out of me so quickly.

// INSPIRATION //

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I watched the new Pureflix movie ‘Paul: Apostle of Christ’ while I was in the middle of my novel and I think it gave me an extra boost of inspiration.  It wasn’t a perfect film (didn’t love it like I love ‘Risen’) but I did really, really like it.  The ending made me cry.  A lot.  Paul has become really special to me through this process and I just…it’s emotional.  And I also had my Spotify playlist which kept me going and going and going.

// PLANNING //

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I had my plot planned out (and it changed very little) which meant that I almost never had to wonder what I was going to write next.  That was very freeing, especially because I’ve never outlined so much and NaNoWriMo has always been a bit of a struggle for me, knowing how to keep writing plot stuff.  But even with the planning, there were moments of spontaneity.  One character took on a much larger role, there was an unexpected partnership, other characters cropped up before I meant them to, and so on.  And when my story started getting boring, I participated in a virtual write-in and found one of the prompts super helpful.  I’ll just say that, um, fire tends to make things wayyyy more interesting.

Sooooo…how’s your NaNoWriMo going?  Did you find any of these tips helpful?  Let me know in the comments!

Eva

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this & that

A quick review of It’s Okay Not To Be Okay: This book is beautifully written and brought me to tears more than once. I didn’t find much to be of practical help to me, but I think other people might. The author took stories from the Bible and wove them into the points she made, which was really interesting. (I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.)

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The Reams of Rereads challenge is over and I didn’t even notice for so long. 😦  NaNoWriMo is keeping me crazy busy and Mom was away when the challenge was ending, so yeah.  I didn’t hit everything on my list, but I did manage to read Mockingjay, Eve’s Daughters, and half of Ender’s Game along with the other books I’d already mentioned rereading.  Thanks so much to everyone that participated!

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Speaking of NaNoWriMo, I wrote 25,000 words in the first four days.  Wut.  It was crazy and my right hand started aching (it’s okay now).  I’m not entirely happy with how my writing project is going, but it’s still good.  And then I got sick today, which meant I ‘only’ wrote 1,200 words.  I’m just glad I got a huge chunk in before sickness struck.  I’m planning to get up early for the virtual write-in tomorrow and I’m also probably going to attend a late night write-in on the 11th (Edmontonwrimos are great).  This is the first time I’ve ever been super active in the NaNoWriMo community and trying to participate in ALL THE THINGS.  It’s been loads of fun.

My seven-year-old brother, Ethan, is aiming for 3,000 words this month and he’s done AMAZING so far.  And I’m not just saying that.

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So many blog events coming up!  Blog tour for Allison Tebo’s A Royal Masquerade, a Claude Rains blogathon, and a Robots in Film blogathon.  I’m going to be sooooo busy. (Well, Robots in Film isn’t until January.  So that’s something of a relief.)

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All you lovely people who commented on my ranking of the Pevensies…I WILL get back to you as soon as I have the time.  I’ve just been very, very busy and Uninspired To Answer Comments. 😛

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Movies I’ve watched recently:

-‘The Eagle’ (crush on Jamie Bell is real; seemed like they were trying to copy the fabulousness of ‘Gladiator’ and even though they didn’t, it was still an excellent film)

-‘Defiance’ (ditto about Jamie Bell and also I loooooved Daniel Craig in this one)

-‘Nicholas Nickleby’ (sensing a theme here? the naked baby at the beginning was Shocking, btw)

-‘Breathe’ (I kinda sorta watched this and was Unimpressed by the ending)

-‘Star Trek’ (2009 version and it was great; totally cried when Leonard Nimoy did the whole “Space…the final frontier…” at the end)

-‘Adventures of Robin Hood (this was for the Claude Rains blogathon and I have a lot to say

-modern ‘3:10 to Yuma’ (meh)

There’ve been some more, but those were most of the highlights.

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What’ve you all been up to?  TELL ME EVERYTHING.

Eva

the NaNoWriMo fanatic tag!

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I stumbled across this rather awesome tag and instantly fell in love because NaNoWriMo and yes and SHE NAMED HER LAPTOP MORIARTY HOW AWESOME IS THAT. *pouts that I didn’t think of it in the first place* (I hadn’t actually watched Sherlock when I bought my laptop, so yeah.)

So!  All-important rules:

1. Insert the tag graphic into your post.

2. Link back to the original post.

3. Answer all — or as many — of the questions as you like.

4. Refer to our communal family bunny named Fanny at least once in your post. (I…don’t get this.  So shout-out to Fanny, the communal family bunny. *shrugs*)

5. Eat three cookies. (I’ve eaten quite a few sweets today.  That should count.)

6. Post a clean list of ALL of the questions somewhere in your post. (‘Clean’ meaning a list of the questions without my answers.  Which is always convenient for other people who want to answer the tag.)

7. Tag as many friends as you want! (I tag anyone who wants to do this.  Because I can and it’s late and I don’t want to spend time notifying people that they’ve been tagged.)

. . . THE QUESTIONS. . .

PART ONE. . . Get to know me

What is your NaNoWriMo Username?

evaschon95.  And if you know the whys and wherefores of ’95’, you’re awesome.

Are you a plotter, pantser, plantser, or planter?

I usually jump into NaNoWriMo with minimal planning, but this year I discovered Novel Factory and it’s been AMAZING.  I finally have a plot!  And real, solid characters!  And a general idea of theme and POV and all that good stuff.  I’ve even plotted another novel on the software and the plotting went just as beautifully so it wasn’t a one-time fluke.  Plots have always been my writerly kryptonite and I think I’ve finally cracked the code, thanks to Novel Factory. (And, no, they didn’t pay me to say all that.)  So in answer to the question, I’m a firm plotter.

Though the NF software gets down to the blocking of scenes, where you basically write everything that happens in every scene, and that’s too nitty-gritty for me.  I prefer some surprises as I write!

How many years have you done the NaNo? How many times have you won?

I won 2013, 2015, and 2016 NaNo.  I got halfway through NaNo 2017 (which was fine with me) and I’m totally planning to smoke this year’s NaNoWriMo.  Maybe even work on a second novel or some fanfiction if I get my official one finished first.

What is your NaNoWriMo Origin Story?

I DON’T KNOW AND I HATE NOT KNOWING BECAUSE I LOVE ORIGIN STORIES.  I honestly have no idea how I discovered it, why I participated, or anything like that.  It saddens me greatly.

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 not super relevant, but memes.

Do you have any writing “lucky charms”?

Nope.  I pray about my writing, though. 🙂

What is your absolute favorite NaNoWriMo memory?

Winning in 2013, very first time, and actually printing out my winner’s certificate and tacking it up on my cork-board.  I was so proud and happy even though, looking back, my writing was trash.  But it was such an awesome feeling to have that certificate.

How do you pronounce NaNoWriMo? (Na-No-RYE-Mo, or Na-No-REE-Mo?)

RYE.  I can’t understand how you could get REE from ‘Wri’.

PART TWO. . . PREP

What’s the name of your NaNoWriMo Project?

The Darkness is Past.  I’m not entirely happy with it, but it’s a good placeholder title that I took from 1 John.  So, not one of Paul’s epistles (the novel is based on the life of Paul) but I still like it because it’s pretty meaningful on several levels.

What is your project’s genre?

Dystopian, with a heaping side of sci-fi and a sprinkling of supernatural (think: Frank Peretti).

Introduce us to your cast!

Ooooh boy. *cracks knuckles*  So there’s Sol.  Early twenties.  Dedicated to the Order (placeholder names, people!) and really loyal, but it’s misguided loyalty.  Pretty arrogant.  Sees what he calls ‘flickers’ attached to certain people – only he can see them.  And that’s all I’m going to say about him for the moment.

Somewhat older Sol.

Johnny Ryan is Sol’s mentor in the Order, almost like a father to him.  When Sol is converted (because duh) Ryan becomes an antagonist and almost a villain but not quite.

arrow MAlcolm

*fangirl screaming from a certain blog follower*

Sheng and Kari Xu.  Sheng becomes Sol’s bodyguard.  He’s my version of Stephen, so bad stuff’s obviously going to happen to him. 😦  I’M SORRY, SHENG.  And Kari’s his sister and she loves her brother so guess who she’s going to have Issues with later on in the story?

Sheng

There’s also some others like Baris and Tyr (Baris is, like, Ananias and Barnabas mixed and Tyr is Timothy, Titus, and John Mark all jumbled up together).  It’ll be good.  I love these characters and can’t wait to write them.  I’m gonna cry, though.  I just know it.

What is your novel’s theme?

Darkness to light.  Seeing beyond the external.  Christ’s redemption is complete and full.  Letting go and trusting God in EVERYTHING is the only way through the bad times. (And there’ll be plenty of bad times in this novel. *sigh*)

What are your novel’s main settings?

America, recovering from a second Civil War and since divided and conquered by Russia and China.  A big, white technologically advanced building.  Dark downtown alleyways and back streets and poor house churches.  I’m getting kind of a Coruscant vibe.  Also Russia and a rather awful prison.

Are you using any plotting/story structures for your project, or are you just winging it like the beautiful pixie that you are?

Like I mentioned in the plotter/pantser question, NOVEL FACTORY FOR THE WIN.

What are some ways you prepare for The NaNo?

Plotting.  Getting to know my characters.  Spending way too much time lurking around the NaNoWriMo forums.  Buying Skittles and Starbursts.  Mentally preparing myself to drink wayyyy too much coffee.  Creating a playlist.  Prayer.

What’s in your writing toolkit? (pictures are encouraged!)

My trusty laptop, Hymie.  That’s pretty much it.  I might stick a Funko Pop or two on my desk for encouragement.

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PART THREE. . . Inspiration

What was the initial inspiration for your NaNoWriMo novel?

Okay, it’s kind of dumb, but here goes… I was thinking about writing a dystopian parody so I was thinking about weird, useless powers that The Gifted One could have and I came up with ‘be able to see who’s a Christian and who isn’t’ which sounds pretty lame, right?  But I thought about it a little more and figured that it might actually be cool if I wrote a Christian dystopian.  I’m not sure where the idea of retelling the life of Paul came in, but it did and here we are.

What’s your NaNoWriMo Novel’s Word Aesthetic?

???

Share your Pinterest boards and music playlists!

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.ca/evaschon95/the-darkness-is-past/

Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/playlist/25gQenYD1EztBGJt1soMhR

What’s your absolute best advice to new (and old!) NaNoers?

Do whatever you want.  Write three novels at the same time.  Write 10K and call it good.  Write 50K words.  Write by hand.  Use a typewriter or Word or Google Docs.  But whatever you do, WRITE.  Everything else – how you do it, how much you write, when you write – is unimportant.  Just write.  Plz.

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Annnnd here’s the clean list!

. . . THE QUESTIONS. . .

PART ONE. . . Get to know me

What is your NaNoWriMo Username?

Are you a plotter, pantser, plantser, or planter?

How many years have you done the NaNo? How many times have you won?

What is your NaNoWriMo Origin Story?

Do you have any writing “lucky charms”?

What is your absolute favorite NaNoWriMo memory?

How do you pronounce NaNoWriMo? (Na-No-RYE-Mo, or Na-No-REE-Mo?)

PART TWO. . . PREP

What’s the name of your NaNoWriMo Project?

What is your project’s genre?

Introduce us to your cast!

What is your novel’s theme?

What are your novel’s main settings?

Are you using any plotting/story structures for your project, or are you just winging it like the beautiful pixie that you are?

What are some ways you prepare for The NaNo?

What’s in your writing toolkit? (pictures are encouraged!)

PART THREE. . . Inspiration

What was the initial inspiration for your NaNoWriMo novel?

What’s your NaNoWriMo Novel’s Word Aesthetic?

Share your Pinterest boards and music playlists!

What’s your absolute best advice to new (and old!) NaNoers?

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Happy NaNoWriMoing!

Eva

the get to know me tag {writer’s edition}

Kinsey at Over the Withers graciously opened up this tag for anyone and I’m totally down for it.

Rules:

  • link back to the person who created the tag: Savannah
  • thank the person who tagged you: completed above
  • share the tag graphic below
  • tag 11 bloggers

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THE QUESTIONS

Appearances!

Name: Eva-Joy “Eva” Ruth Schönhaar.

Nicknames: Well, pretty much everyone online calls me ‘Eva’.  And my dad had a nickname for me, but I don’t feel like sharing it here for various reasons.

Birthday: September 3rd!  Less than a month until I turn twenty!!!  I share my birthday with a lot of people (duh), but my three favorites are Alan Ladd, Mort Walker (creator of ‘Beetle Bailey’, one of my favorite comic strips), and Garrett Hedlund.  Also, WWII began on my birthday (several decades ago, obviously).  I don’t know if that’s cool or not.

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The handsomeness!

Hair color and length: My hair is brunette and a little shorter than chin-length.

Eye Color: Blue.

Braces/Piercings/tattoos: I did have braces once upon a time, but now I just have two tiny wire retainers behind my top and bottom teeth.  I’d like to get my ears pierced.  And I don’t have any tattoos.

Righty or lefty: Righty.

Ethnicity: Caucasian.  British, German, and American roots.

First…

Novel Written: Well, I wrote several novellas (probably more like long short stories, tbh) but I believe the first novel-length work I finished was a dystopian novel (first in a trilogy, of course).

Novel Completed: That dystopian thing and as to when it was completed, I’m not entirely sure.  I believe it was some time in 2012 or 2013.

Award for Writing: I won a short story contest at the local library several years ago.  It wasn’t an award exactly, but it’s something anyway.

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Publication: I have nothing to say about this at the present time. (Though the aforementioned short story was published on the library website.)

Conference: No. 😦

Query/Pitch: *shrugs*  I won’t think about that now…I’ll think about that tomorrow.  After all, tomorrow is another day! *music swells*

Favorites!

Novel (that you wrote): The one I’m currently working on – The Resistance of Lili Verre – has my heart, obviously.  I’m also partial to my next NaNoWriMo project, a Christian dystopian based on the life of the Apostle Paul.  But I think my favorite novel I’ve written so far is The Bounty Hunter.  It’s a western.  Very first draft, but the characters are the literal best.

Genre: Westerns!  I’m also very partial to sci-fi and most historicals.

Author: Soooooo many.  Jane Austen, Harper Lee, Nadine Brandes, Suzanne Collins, Marissa Meyer, Baroness Orczy, Louis L’Amour, Rachel Kovaciny, Markus Zusak…and on and on and on.

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Writing Music: Movie soundtracks!  My Spotify playlist for The Resistance of Lili Verre includes music from ‘The Book Thief’, ‘Hugo’, ‘Ratatouille’, and ‘Cinderella’ (2015).  Or sometimes I’ll just go and pull up someone else’s random playlist and write to that.  Love.

Time to write: That’s something I’ve been working out in my head, as I want to take my writing a lot more seriously and devote more time to it.  Right now, I mainly write between eleven and twelve in the morning, scattered throughout the afternoon, and sometimes in the evening.  I need to get a firm schedule though.

Writing snack/drink: Coffee.  That’s pretty much it.  I don’t like eating as I write, because it tends to get my keyboard sticky or crumby.

Movie: ‘The Magnificent Seven’ (original).  And tons of others.

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Writing Memory: I remember having a lot of fun with a western story about a bank examiner that I wrote a few years ago.  Lots of coffee and early mornings and Jerry Goldsmith music.

Childhood Book: Again, there’s many.  Little Men would be up there, along with A Little Princess.

Currently…

Reading: Gone With the Wind and The Wendy.

Writing: This blog post, my Rogue One WWII AU, and The Resistance of Lili Verre.

Listening to: My little brothers talking.

Watching: My Gmail inbox.

Learning: Nothing much at the moment.

Future!

Want to be published: Before I’m twenty-five.

Indie or traditional: Traditional is my goal right now.

Wildest goal: To have as loyal and devoted a fan-base as Nadine Brandes does.

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Like Kinsey, I’m going to leave this tag open for whoever wants to do it. 🙂

Eva

follow-up to my rant

Ugggh.  I just want this whole thing to be over.

But since posting my rant about being asked to take down a negative review of an indie book, I’ve since been messaged by the author’s friend.  She explained that she, personally, believes that reviews shouldn’t be taken down just because they aren’t good.  It’s the author that asked her to message me about taking down my review (why the author didn’t message me herself, I have no idea).  So I’m just writing this quick post to clarify things and apologize to the author’s friend.  I had no idea her views and the author’s views didn’t align when I posted my original rant.

And so, goodnight.

Eva

time for a rant

A couple weeks ago, I requested – and received – a book for review.  (I’m not going to give you the title of the book or the name of the author because my rant centers around the author and I’d rather not draw attention to her.)

So anyway, I read the book and wrote a review on Goodreads (it was also published on Amazon).  It was a two star review, mainly because the book was pure romance (something I didn’t know going into the story) and I don’t much like romance novels.  However, I said very clearly – and more than once – that fans of fluffy romance would really enjoy the book. (And when I say ‘fluffy romance’ I don’t mean it as a put-down.)

All was well and good, I thought.  Until this evening when I arrived home from church to find a long message from the author’s representative in my Goodreads inbox, asking me  (but it was ask-ordering, I felt) to take down my review.  To quote her:

“…if you don’t enjoy the book and you’ve received it in exchange for a review, it’s better to just not review it. The reason the author gives out copies is to help their book get more and higher ratings, and getting a low one really beats the purpose of having reviewers read it. There’s kind of a general rule in the indie author world that if you get a book to review and your rating is 2 stars or lower, just don’t review it…you got a copy ( the author giving it to you so her rating could go up ) but instead it went down which beats the whole purpose of it.”

I took down my review from Goodreads and Amazon but my two-star rating still stands.  So now when people check out this book on GR, they’ll see my two-star rating but not my review which clearly stated that fans of romance would dig the book (it just wasn’t my cup of tea).

It strikes me as really unethical and bordering on dishonest to delete reviews that aren’t three stars or more simply because it lowers the book’s overall rating on Goodreads.  Personally, I’m very suspicious of books that have only four or five star reviews (which is pretty much what the book in question has right now).  And what’s up with that ‘general rule’ thing?  I’ve never heard of it and I know indie authors and…yeah.  It’s messed up, IMO.

What happened to “I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my HONEST review”?

If you’re an indie author (or a writer in general), I’d love to get your thoughts on this!  Do you hold to that particular rule of reviews?  What do you have to say about this issue?

Eva

P.S. Nine times out of ten, I don’t think authors should respond to reviews of their work.  Thoughts?

li’l self-promo here…

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Okay, so I had a ‘Friday Finds’ post all written and ready to go…and WordPress ate it.  Obviously, I didn’t feel like re-typing everything and chasing down the links, so instead I’m just going to direct you to one thing.  I’ve been writing a WWII AU (alternate universe) retelling of ‘Rogue One’ and publishing the chapters on FanFiction.net.  If you’re a fan of the movie, you can check it out here. 🙂  I’ve only published three chapters, so there won’t be too much to catch up on.  Anyway, please let me know what you think if you get the chance!  Thanks in advance.

*awkward wave*

Eva