The challenge of National Novel Writing Month is simple: write a fifty-thousand word novel, from scratch, between November 1st and November 30th.
Now, wait a second. I didn’t say doing it was simple, I said the idea was simple. I’m an enthusiastic advocate of NaNoWriMo, for several reasons. I think it’s a great thing to occasionally let our creativity slip free from the bonds of how and what we “should” be writing. With NaNoWriMo, there are few rules; there simply isn’t time for them. It’s a time to just sit down and let the words flow, to know that even if what you’re typing is the “worst” thing you’ve ever done, it’s okay. You don’t have time to worry, you only have time to write. And not much of that.
Even more than this massive creative release, however, is the sense of community that goes along with NaNoWriMo. In 2013, over 300,000 writers from all over the world participated. It may sound corny, but there’s something almost magical in the knowledge that there are so many minds focused on the same task at the same time, trying along with you to do something fun and wonderful and just a little crazy.
If you’d ever said, “I’d like to write a novel someday,” maybe your someday can start next November 1st. Click over to www.nanowrimo.org and find out.
My NNWM Novels
I’ve been participating in this madness since 2002, so I have a few novels under my belt, some published (in various stages of editing, revising, submission, and publication). Here’s a rundown of my November writing projects:
NaNoWriMo 2015/2016: Beyond the Sentinel Stars Winner!
Luta Paixon and the crew of the Tane Ikai have made it back to Nearspace safely, but that safety is short-lived. As if a disastrous diplomatic mission to the crow-like Corvids isn’t enough, Luta’s old enemy Alin Sedmamin is back—and asking Luta to help save his life. In exchange, Sedmamin is offering secrets stretching back more than a century into Nearspace’s past—secrets that could prevent a war.
Meanwhile, Luta’s brother Admiral Lanar Mahane is faced with an awful truth: the Protectorate is spread too thinly across Nearspace to offer adequate protection or defense when the aggressive Chron turn their murderous sights on Nearspace again. They must forge new alliances if Nearspace is to survive, but it’s almost impossible to know who to trust. And Lanar is finding that particularly difficult on a personal level.
As interstellar conflict looms on the horizon and a political plot of tremendous scope and daring threatens to destroy Nearspace from within, Luta and Lanar will test the bonds of family and the strength of hope as they struggle to maintain peace in a world that seems destined for war.
Kit Stablefield, lie-detecting detective, suspects she’s developing some unwanted new magic abilities. But when her grandmother calls with the news that Spellquicks are being murdered in what look like accidents, Kit has to put her personal worries aside. With the office mascot–a sentient goose–striking out on his own case, her new boyfriend worrying about interfering with her magic, and an apartment AI embroiled in a love story all her own, Kit has more than enough chaos to deal with as she tracks down an assassin who might just have his sights set on one of the people Kit loves most.
Nicole Reese was slightly bored with her office job when a pack of brownies turned up in the photocopier and the repairman turned out to be an agent with the Bureau of Realms and Netherworlds Enforcement, also known as B.R.A.N.E. When it turned out she had a knack for Symbolic Graphology, she took a job with B.R.A.N.E. quickly enough…but she had no idea that an ancient mythic king was about to return and try to claim…well, everything.
Stella McKarron is sorry when her Uncle Ambrose dies suddenly, but she doesn’t think it will actually change her life much, and they’d never gotten along terribly well. So it comes as a surprise to learn that he’s left her his cat (she’s allergic), his car (she doesn’t drive), his private detective agency (she’s a librarian) and his collection of ten thousand books (she’s actually okay with that one). The bigger surprise is yet to come, however, when his ghost appears and tells her that he was murdered, and the first case he wants her to take on is his own…
Carl, Angie, and their crew of fellow gamers have been holed up playing the MMORPG Gods of Sundered Heaven (or GOSH) for the past week and a half. They have no idea that during this time the apocalypse has come and gone…leaving them to deal with the aftermath when they finally emerge, blinking, from Carl’s converted warehouse apartment. Will their gamer skillz be enough to help them rescue their friends, get them to a safe haven–and maybe even figure out how to overcome the current threat to humanity? And in the final analysis, will they turn out to be heroes–or just another bunch of geeky n00bs?
NaNoWriMo 2010: To Where The Aether Failed Winner!
Member of the Royal Guild of Aetherists Sophie Howard is beginning to discover secrets~secrets about her parents’ deaths, the man behind them, a murder that is not a murder, and the truth about an airship collision that was no accident. The trouble with some secrets, though, is that there are people who will stop at nothing to make sure they are kept. And in the alternate Victorian-age Halifax where Sophie lives, those people have goals that threaten the entire British Empire–goals that even the Aetherists might not be able to thwart.
NaNoWriMo 2009: Spaces Sharp and Bare Winner!
After an eight-year regency spent chafing under the smothering will of her mother, the Duchess of Kent, the impetuous and hot-tempered young Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Hanover finally turned eighteen and ascended the throne of England. Her first acts as queen were to discard the name Victoria, exile her mother to the colony of Nova Scotia, and snatch back some of the ruling power that had been slowly devolving away from the monarchy and the House of Lords and into the hands of the House of Commons. Queen Alexandrina had had quite enough of being told what to do.
When a channel for aetheric energy was discovered by a Canadian inventor just at the beginning of the Indian Rebellion, Queen Alexandrina was quick to realize where her interests should lie. She withdrew all British rule from India, made fast friends with a like-minded queen from India named Rani Lakshmi Bai to cement relations there, and turned her attention to the use of aetheric power to improve and protect the remainder of the Commonwealth. In small quantities, aether could be used to power airships, mechanical men called golemechs, and all manner of devices. The Aether Age had begun.
However, attempts to channel larger quantities of aether proved extremely unstable and dangerous, so Queen Alexandrina established the Royal Aether Guild to protect its use. Members of the Guild possess unique devices to channel aetheric power safely and guard against its abuse or misuse.
Sophronia Howard is a Guild member in Halifax, Nova Scotia, haunted by the events of her past and unwilling to let anyone grow too close in her affections. When she discovers the body of a woman killed by the same type of aether-summoned creature that murdered her parents, she doesn`t realize that it is the beginning of a struggle for power that will cross two continents, endanger thousands of lives, and force her to question everything she believes.
NaNoWriMo 2008: At the Sign of the Starcase Winner!
In the five years since Maddie’s father disappeared, she and her family have struggled to go on with some semblance of a normal life. That life is shattered by the arrival of Neb, a vaguely rabbit-like creature who turns up in Maddie’s room one night, pleading for her help in finding a powerful book called the Cyclopedia and telling her that her father is still alive—but trapped in an alternate world. There’s no question that Maddie will try to help Neb and hope that by doing so she’ll be able to rescue her father. But keeping the rest of her family safe grows increasingly difficult once she finds out that there are others from that world who want the Cyclopedia too…and they don’t care what they have to do to get it.
NaNoWriMo 2007: The Fifth Force Winner!
When majick finally comes to the planet of D’sharu, teetering on the brink of its own space race, more than a few lives are thrown into disarray. At the center of the chaos are a boy whose head is suddenly full of words he doesn’t understand, a young woman who might finally understand her urge to wear black and cook strange things in cauldrons, and a man who has no idea why people keep telling him he’s the Technocrat Avatar. The situation isn’t improved by all the members of the Majick Concordance who want a piece of the power. One thing is certain–when majick and technology mix, it’s an explosive combination. The question is, who will be left standing after the dust clears?
Kit Stablefield was just a mercenary with a secret and a crush on a guy she knew only online, in a future where magic was a part of everyday life. But when Aleshu Coro walked into the offices of Darcko and Sadatake with a message from the Murder Prophet and fourteen days to live, everything changed. Suddenly Kit was questioning the decisions of her past all over again, trying to find out if the man she loved was in fact a man, and on the hunt to stop a murderer from striking and a mysterious seer from abusing his or her power. With her eighty-six-year-old grandmother insisting on helping out and a talking goose who simply won’t stop pestering her to watch his “killer” video game moves, Kit’s got more than her hands full as she races against the clock to prevent a murder…possibly her own.
Published in 2014
NaNoWriMo 2005: The Seventh Crow Winner!
Rosinda was happy enough living with her Aunt Odder temporarily, although her missing memories worried her…a lot. It was almost a relief to find out that the explanation was more complicated than she’d thought. The relief didn’t last long, however, once she realized the danger that her parents–and everyone else in her homeland–now faced. And the animals kept insisting that she had to do something about that…
Published in 2015 by Dreaming Robot Press
NaNoWriMo 2004: Operant Moon Winner!
Luta Paixon and the crew of the Tane Ikai have enough trouble on their hands just now, trying to deal with the problems of two captains on one ship, various romantic upheavals, and the revelation that one of their crewmates is a benevolent spy. But things can always get worse. When an alien artifact, the remnant of a long-ago war, shows up on the other side of a newly-discovered wormhole, they find themselves pressed into the service of the Nearspace Protectorate. The Protectorate wants the discovery kept secret, so the Tane Ikai must covertly deliver a Lobor historian to the site to try and decipher its meaning and possible threat. When a mysterious attack leaves them stranded in the uncharted new system, however, Luta and her crew must rely on their wits to stay alive and discover what it is that their old enemies are so afraid of…
Published under the new title Dark Beneath the Moon in 2015 by Tyche Books
When Luta Paixon, captain of the merchant trader Tane Ikai, looked in the mirror, she saw a woman in her thirties–even though she was actually eighty-two. Luta’s only explanation might lie with the mother who had disappeared over sixty years ago. But even if her mother were still alive, it would be no small task to track her down in the vast, wormhole-ridden expanse of Nearspace. With the ruthless PrimeCorp bent on obtaining Luta’s DNA at any cost, her ninety-year-old husband asking for one last favor, and her estranged daughter locking horns with her at every turn, Luta’s search for answers will take her to the farthest reaches of space–and deep inside her own heart.
Published in 2013 by Tyche Books
NaNoWriMo 2002: The Y Plague Winner!
In a future where genetic degradation has reduced the male population to only five percent of the total, fertile males are prized as research subjects and breeding partners. There’s unrest, however, as men begin to resent the bonds of society and start to form their own Freemen colonies. The radical X/Alt group wants to see the end of all research aimed at restoring the male genome, and in Rome, the last male Pope uncovers a secret that will either drive him mad or rock the Catholic Church to its foundations.
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