NaNo Prep Advice

It doesn’t look like I’m going to be doing NaNo (aka NaNoWriMo, aka National Novel Writing Month) this year, due to still trying to revise last year’s NaNo project.

However, I thought I’d put up some info for those getting ready to attempt to write 50,000 words of a novel in November.

Whether you’re a pantser (someone who writes with no plan/flies by the seat of their pants) or a plotter (someone who plans out the storyline of their novel in advance) or somewhere in between, it’s a good idea to know your characters.

After all, in a well-written book, your characters’ personalities will dictate their actions, and have a huge influence on the plot, so it’s important to know what makes them tick.

I always fill out a questionnaire like this one from agent Carly Watters, for each of my main characters, so I can get a feel for their personalities.

I think it’s also important to know what kind of emotional growth your character is going to experience, as an aid to plotting. This series of blog posts by author K.M. Weiland includes a set of exercises to help craft character arcs to drive your plot.

As far as the actual finding-time-to-write part goes, check out this post written when I still had 2 kids at home. I still use many of those strategies while drafting (although I’m definitely a plotter now).

My penultimate (heehee, love using that word) NaNo advice is to celebrate every milestone. Stock up on Halloween candy and reward/bribe yourself (1 bar for every 1,000 or 2,500 words or maybe 1 bar for an hour on the computer, depending on what works best for you). Treat yourself to dinner when you hit 10,000 words.

(If using food as a motivator doesn’t work for you, there are lots of other options: no checking your phone/social media until you hit 1,000 words; an hour of reading for every three hours of writing; treat yourself to some NaNo swag when you hit 10,000 words; go Christmas Shopping when you hit 30,000!)

And my final advice: don’t stress/panic. There’s no penalty for not “winning” NaNo. Any words you write during NaNo are more words than you had at the start of that month, so just entering makes you a winner in my book.


Feelin’ Thankful

Sorry for the late post this week, folks. I’ve been under the weather and time got away from me.

This weekend is Thanksgiving here in Canada, so I thought I’d use this week’s post to, you know, give thanks. So, here goes

I’m thankful for:

  • our family’s health (having two kids undergo minor surgery this year has made me realize how much worse many families have it)
  • living in a country with free healthcare
  • my amazing husband and his willingness to support me through all my health-drama, allowing me to be a stay-at-home-parent and work on writing
  • three great kids
  • all the friends I’ve made through the writing community
  • my friends from elementary school that I’m still close with 30+ years later
  • probably tons of stuff I’m forgetting

Want to join in the thanking fun? Tell me what you’re thankful for in the comments (even if it’s not Thanksgiving where you are)

October Check-In

Another month has passed, and once again I’m behind where I’d hoped to be in my revision.

Life has been pretty busy – my daughter had (minor) surgery, and we’ve had a bunch of appointments and mild illness taking up our time, not to mention taking time out to attend the Global Climate Strike.

Plus, my head has been objecting to spending too much time in a row on the computer.

But, since I’ve had to limit my computer time, I’ve spent more time on plotting/planning in my notebook, and managed to make some major character discoveries and find a way to close a particularly vexing plot hole.

Yay for small victories?

And, of course, less time writing has equalled more time reading/listening to audiobooks.

September Reading Stats:

  • Adult Urban Fantasy (2)
  • YA Urban Fantasy (4)
  • YA Fantasy (1)
  • Adult Mystery (14)
  • Adult Paranormal Mystery (2)
  • Re-Read (2)

September Total: 23 (+ 2 Re-reads)

Year-to-Date: 182 (+24 Re-reads)

PSA: Facts About Identical Twins for Writers

I know reading fiction requires a certain amount of suspension of disbelief, but nothing brings a fictional world crashing down around me faster than simple factual inaccuracies.

Vampires? Sure. Superheroes? Why not. An overnight high school field trip with only male chaperones? Yeah, no. (Lookin’ at you Spiderman: Far From Home)

Which is why when the solution to the mystery novel I was reading (ok, listening to) revolved around a set of identical male/female (AMAB and AFAB) twins, I balked.

(In fairness to the author, I looked it up just to be sure, and apparently there has been a case where this happened, but the AFAB child was technically intersex, due to a genetic mutation, resulting in XXY chromosomes – which was not the case in the book, as far as I could tell).

So, as a writer, a Ravenclaw, and the mom of identical twins, I thought I’d list off some facts about twins that you may or may not know.

  • Identical twins occur when the (already fertilized) egg splits. The twins are genetically identical.
  • Fraternal twins occur when two eggs are released and subsequently fertilized by separate sperm. These twins can be any gender combination and are only as similar as regular siblings.
  • There is a third type of twin where the egg splits before being fertilized, so the twins are 3/4 genetically identical. Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen are believed to be this kind of twin.
  • Identical twins can share an amniotic sac (at high risk for cord entanglement), and/or a placenta (those who share a placenta are at risk for Twin-to-Twin-Transfusion Syndrome, where one twin steals nutrients from the other).
  • Twins make up 3/100* births. Identical twins occur in 3/1000* births.
  • No one knows what causes identical twins. Fraternal twins can run in families (due to a genetic disposition to release multiple eggs), can be a result of fertility treatments, or can occur when the mother is older than 35 (as the body releases more eggs with age – 17% of mothers over 45 have twins, mothers over 50 have a 1 in 9 chance of twins).
  • Giving birth to twins increases your risk of having twins again (applies to both fraternal and identical twins).
  • Twins can have different birthdays. In the time between birthing one twin and the next (minutes for a C-Section, up to hours for vaginal birth) the clock can tick over from one day, month, or even year to the next. In some cases of illness or premature labour, doctors can halt the birth process after one twin is delivered, leaving the second to be born as late as weeks later.
  • Identical twins can have different fingerprints.
  • Identical twins can develop differently (my sister-in-law’s identical twin brothers have a few inches of height and tens of pounds separating them).
  • Some identical twins (including my own) are mirror twins – instead of being truly physically identical, they are mirror images of each other (Mine even write with opposite hands, cut opposite teeth – eg. front left for one, front right for the other – and had opposite pointed ears at birth).
  • If identical twins have children, those children are genetically half-siblings (as well as cousins). If they have children with another set of identical twins, those kids are genetically full siblings.

*These numbers seem to vary from site to site, so I went with the ones that agreed with those my doctors told me.



Cozy Mystery Bingo

The first books I ever read to myself were my aunt’s vintage Nancy Drew mysteries. In my tweens I was addicted to Christopher Pike novels, and in my teens I read pretty much every Agatha Christie, Nero Wolfe, and Ngaio Marsh book I could find.

In short, I love me a good cozy mystery. (Fun fact: the first book I ever tried to write was a cozy mystery. Enough said about that.)

This summer I went on a cozy mystery binge, reading/listening to around 50 books that would fall under the general “cozy mystery” heading (yes, I’m including the paranormal mysteries there).

And, as much as I love cozies, reading so many books so close together made it really easy to pick out the tropes. So, I thought it would be fun to create a cozy mystery Bingo Card (writers can use it as a guide, and readers can play along at home).



Female Main Character (MC)



MC has a cat/dog



Victim is a bad person



MC has a sweet tooth



MC has a quirky BFF



MC owns a business



MC can’t boil water



MC loves mystery novels



Book’s title is a pun



MC works with food or books



Book has a cartoon cover


MC is romantically involved with a cop





MC has been accused of murder (at some point in life)



MC is age 25-50


MC ends up in mortal danger


Justice is done in the end


MC loves to bake


MC has recently had a major life change (divorced, fired, dumped)



MC has a close relative



MC lives in a small town (often where they grew up)



MC is nosy


MC has a rich benefactor



Non-cop love interest = bad guy


Book includes recipes or craft patterns

PS If your tween/teen years involved as much Christopher Pike as mine did, you should totally check out #PikeFest on Twitter where Amelinda Berube recaps her stash of Pike novels with fresh eyes.

Writing Rituals and Superstitions

With tomorrow being Friday the Thirteenth, I thought it’d be fun to talk about writing rituals and superstitions (full disclosure: I’m also using it as a discussion topic for our local SCBWI Get-Together tomorrow, too).

For me, I almost always sit down to write with a fresh cup of tea (which is half a psychological/ritual thing, and half because my fingers always turn to ice when I’m typing for any length of time.)

As for superstitions, I tend to keep quiet about the querying process and/or being on sub (to editors), but I feel like that’s more of an industry-standard/unwritten rule thing, rather than a superstition.

I’m a little superstitious about dates, I guess, often choosing to send out queries on specific odd-numbered days, because they feel luckier somehow (yeah, yeah, I know I’m weird). This doesn’t apply to requested material, of course, which gets sent out ASAP.

What about you? Do you have any writing rituals or superstitions you follow? Share them in the comments!

September Check-In

Wow did that summer fly by fast!

I managed to squeeze in a bit of writing last month, despite spending half of my time out-of-town. I’m still loving my Adult Urban Fantasy WiP (most of the time), even if my progress has been slow. And I’ve got some great feedback from my critique group, which is also bolstering my confidence in the project.

I’m looking forward to having more time to write this month, now that the kids are back in school. We have a few family medical things taking my time in the near future, but I should still manage to get some typing in.

Health-wise, my Fibromyalgia has being laying low lately (*knocks on wood*) so keep your fingers crossed it continues long enough for me to get some work done.

As far as this blog goes, my plan is to return to weekly posts, although I may miss one or two due to those family medical things I was talking about.

And now, for my:

August Reading Stats:

  • Adult Paranormal Mystery (3)
  • Adult Mystery (22)
  • Adult Urban Fantasy (1)
  • DNF (3)

August Total:  26 (+ 3 DNFs)

Year-to-Date: 159 (+ 22 Re-Reads)