49 Days

It seems to me most of my posts are me justifying how busy I’ve been, followed by me promising to do better about posting.


Well, this one is no different.  We’re nearly at the half-way mark through September and a big target looms before me.  The mighty NaNoWriMo is a mere forty-nine days away.

In case you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it stands for National Novel Month and it’s a self-induced contest for writers to produce at least 50,000 words of a new novel (never-been-worked-on-before new) in November.  Yes, the same month that fattens us up one day and expects us to run a shopping gauntlet the next.

In the past, I used it as a springboard to launch new titles I’d been mulling over but hadn’t gotten around to.  I can’t recall what I worked on the first year, but in 2010, I started The Shadow Walker and last year, I began work on Through the Gray Gate, a horror/fantasy.  In all three instances, I fell well short of the 50k goal, but it did give me a good start on some stories that would otherwise have simply remained percolating on the back burner while I dedicated more time to my primary titles.  In the case of The Shadow Walker, I got such a good lead on it, I was able to finish the rough draft within the following few months and eventually published it.

My plan this year is actually the same I had last year: to finish Unseen Things II (The Shadow Within) and use NaNoWriMo to get a good chunk of the third and final book in the series, World of Shadows, under my belt.  I’d like to release the 2nd and 3rd books as close to each other as possible, because unlike the first book, the second is hardly stand-alone.

I failed in my plan last year because I didn’t have The Shadow Within ready to go.  I have most of the book handwritten, a throw back to my days as a driver when I chronicled each story in a notebook and used that as my rough draft.  Those days are behind me now, and I never finished the last five or six chapters of that book back in the day.  I know where the story is headed and I know exactly how the third one opens and roughly how it ends, but there’s a lot of matter in the middle I haven’t worked out yet.

It’s a little daunting because I haven’t done any “new” writing in some time.  I’ve added pages or even chapters here and there to existing work, but primarily, I’ve been reading what I wrote years ago and editing them as I go along.  The process has definitely helped my output (four books out in the span of a year…that’s not going to keep happening as long as I work 40+ hours a week at my job), but I can’t count on it forever.  In fact, once The Shadow Within and The Blood Contract (Only Human on the Block IV, provided I ever find the notebook it’s written in) are finished, I don’t have a lot of pre-existing material to fall back on.  There’s AdaptNation, a mish-mash superhero/detective series, but I never completed the first book and what I have wasn’t to my satisfaction.  I have the very first book I wrote fresh out of high school, The Spirits of Man, but it will require some major edits/rewrites/re-examining what I was thinking at the time to make that series work.  Everything else is done in snippets here and there, or worse, trapped in my head for years, just waiting to come out.  I have fantasies and SF, dramas and comedies, even a few kids books all eager to come out and play.  What I lack is time.

This is the beauty of NaNoWriMo to me.  I work best when I focus my attention in like a laser.  The rough draft of The Four-Year-Old Guardian was written in a month, the bulk of its three (mostly finished) sequels within the next year.  Ascension, as big as that book is, was primarily written in the hour’s time I had between when I got home and when people started arriving for group.

So, this is what I have.  Forty-nine days to finish The Shadow Within (I’m currently on chapter three, but that’s mostly because I got bogged down on reworking the opening scene.  It should go smoother from here).  At the same time, I’m working on Together Alone (Only Human on the Block III) and bringing that to group on a weekly basis.

If all goes well, I’ll have a good chunk of Together Alone done by November (still hovering at 48% completion) and by the end of the year, I’ll have good rough drafts of both The Shadow Within and World of Shadows.  If things don’t go so well…watch this space for future excuses why I missed my deadlines once again.

Thanks for your support.

S.L. Madden


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