Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NaNoWriMo: That Dream Within a Dream...

This month we’ve looked at The Princess Bride as an analogy for writing and NaNo. We learned not to listen to our Inner Fred Savage, to keep the faith even when it seems like our plot and our love for noveling has been killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts, to climb to the top of the Cliffs of Insanity, and to turn those random plot devices into Something Big.

Now, when I started doing these Princess Bride talks, I’m sure many of you wondered when I’d get to the Impressive Clergyman. I’ve purposely been keeping you in suspense, but now it’s time. After all… Novels are what bring us together today... That blessed arrangement, that dream with a dream.

Whether you wrote 50,000 words or 5,000 words, you have touched that dream. You took something that was inside of you and chose to share it with others. You stretched yourself, reaching for more than you thought you were capable of. The most amazing thing about National Novel Writing Month is not the novel you’ve written, but what it has done to your concept of possible versus impossible. You are capable of Big Things—we all are.

If your word count is somewhere in the 30s or even the 20s and you’ve already written this year off, think about this for a minute. 30,000 words in four weeks? That’s pretty incredible. Who’s to say you can’t push on and do another 20K in four days? People do it every year. Stretch yourself some more. You might reach 50K, you might not. Either way, you still will have written more than you thought possible 24 hours ago.

To do this, you might try taking a piece of advice from Prince Humperdink: Skip to the end. If you’re like many writers, you’ve discovered that your novel will take more than 50,000 words to tell. You’re probably somewhere in the middle section and you haven’t gotten to “the good stuff” yet. So skip to the end. Write a few paragraphs to sketch out what happens in the middle if you want (it does help the word count…), and then go straight to your climax. Draw out those awesome scenes as much as you want. Milk them for every word they have.

I have one more piece of advice for you: Love your novel. Love the whole experience. This is what matters in the end. And when December comes and another NaNoWriMo ends, we’ll all be able to say one thing: There were five months in the course of my life that I have labeled the most amazing, the most insane. This one surpassed them all.

PS: If you haven't heard, my 2008 NaNo novel, his Good Opinion, is now available for sale!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

First Milestone!

Last night, I sold my 100th copy of His Good Opinion.

100 COPIES!!!

To say I'm in awe would be an understatement. A writer always hopes people will read her work, but you never know what to expect until you put it out there. I was fairly confident that some would buy the book right way--those of you who have been so lovely and excited about my release, right along with me. Beyond that, I really didn't know.

I certainly didn't expect to pass 100 sales in just 9 days.

Thank you so much everyone--you are making this a fantastic ride for me.

For those interested in a paperback copy, I ordered the proof from CreateSpace on Thanksgiving and expect it in the mail sometime next week. As soon as I'm confident the formatting will meet my standards, I'll approve it for sale.

His Good Opinion can be purchased from AmazonBarnes and NobleSmashwordsAmazon UKAmazon DE, and Amazon FR

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Today is Thanksgiving. It's a tendency in the blogging world to take off major holidays (as blog traffic drops significantly, and... well, we'd like a day off too). However, as I thought about it this week, I realized I have so much to be thankful for, there's truly no excuse for me not to post.

  1. I am thankful for my family. They gave me the love of books that has brought me to where I am today, and to a person, every one of them has loved me and believed in me in a way I know is rare and precious.
  2. I am thankful for Chris Baty and National Novel Writing Month for giving me the years of practice it takes to become successful at anything.
  3. I am thankful to all the people who've read my fanfiction over the years. Thanks to you, I wasn't nearly as nervous when I published my first book. 
  4. I'm thankful for the amazing team of beta readers and editors who helped me improve His Good Opinion this year: Jessica, Kaydee, Mom, Rebecca, Haley, Jaymi, and Carissa. 
  5. I'm thankful to Jess (again) for all the formatting help she gave over the last two weeks--right in the middle of moving and doing NaNoWriMo. 
  6. I'm thankful for the amazing cover, designed for me by Ed Melendez.
  7. I'm thankful for the tremendous amounts of help Jennifer Becton has offered as I traversed the unknown waters of self-publishing for the first time.
And I am so very thankful to everyone who has purchased His Good Opinion in the last week. It's an absolute thrill to know my book is in the hands of readers. You have made my dream come true--thank you so very much.

His Good Opinion can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Amazon UK, Amazon DE, and Amazon FR

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Hello, My Name Is Inigo Montoya

You killed my father. Prepare to die.

Of all the quotable lines in The Princess Bride, this one is perhaps the most iconic. With the exception of one character (whom we will get to next week), no one in the movie is more associated with a single line than Inigo. It is absolutely central to his character—the whole story of his father’s death and his subsequent quest for revenge has shaped his life.

How does this apply to noveling? Well, the line comes up for the first time fairly early in the story. Westley has made it to the top of the Cliffs of Insanity and Inigo offers him the chance to rest before they duel. While they rest, he asks, rather off-handedly, if Westley has six fingers on his right hand. When it’s established that he doesn’t, he proceeds to tell the story.

At this point, it could just be a nice story. However, a few scenes later Westley and Buttercup come out of the Fire Swamp right into the waiting arms of Prince Humperdink and Count Rugen. After Buttercup has been taken away, Westley notices Count Rugen—“You have six fingers on your right hand. Someone’s been looking for you.” Hmmm… now it’s been mentioned twice, and might actually play a role in the plot.

We learn quite a bit in the next few scenes about how twisted Count Rugen is, and then it’s time for Fezzik to locate Inigo. Once again, the subject of the six-fingered man comes up—at which point Inigo promptly passes out. He sobers up, and he and Fezzik go on a quest to find Westley. You see? The thought of finding the six-fingered man is enough to shake him out of his drunken stupor and finally do the one thing he was meant to do.

I could go on and on here, because really this is the strongest sub-plot in the entire film. By the time we get to that pivotal scene where he’s been stabbed several times by Rugen, we understand that this is no mere throwaway line. “Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya! You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

We are entering Week Four of NaNoWriMo. Right now, most of our stories are somewhere around the Miracle Max scene—build up to the climax—and hopefully, we will all reach our own duel scenes in the next seven days. If you’re stuck for words or don’t know what to do with your plot, look back at what you wrote in the first week (not to edit!!) and find some random line or action that you can turn into this kind of scene. You may find that you’ve unconsciously built one in. Good for you! Take that thematic hint and develop it into a fantastic crescendo of plotty and wordy goodness.

If you don't have one already, that's why I told you to look back at your early chapters. Without looking at the grammar or spelling, skim for something that sparks an idea for this kind of scene. Don’t worry about including extra references to it throughout your story. You can go back and add those later. For now, just concentrate on that climactic duel and boost that word count!

Next week: Marriage. Marriage is what brings us together today...

PS: If you haven't heard, my 2008 NaNo novel His Good Opinion is now available for sale!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

His Good Opinion--available now!

Yes! I hit go last night with Smashwords, and you can get the book there in any format you so desire.

ETA 11/21: And now also available from the Kindle store!
ETA 11/22: And now, NOOK!

Paperback formatting, thanks to Jessica Melendez, is finally finished. Once I get the revised cover I'll be able to request the proofs and get moving in that direction.

This week has been absolutely insane, filled with tons of last minute items. Some things were legitimately last minute, and some were of the, "Really? You haven't done that yet?" variety. It was crazy but now the hard work is over!

Thank you for all the help and support you have given me over the last ten months. I started this blog with very few expectations. I thought I might meet a few interesting people, and perhaps connect with some about books.

You have been so much more than that. I've got a whole blog post planned to thank you, but for now, just know that I appreciate you all more than I can say.

Hey guys? I'm a published author!

His Good Opinion can be purchased from AmazonBarnes and NobleSmashwordsAmazon UKAmazon DE, and Amazon FR

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NaNoWriMo: The Cliffs of INSANITY!!!

This is where you are right now. Like Westley, you have been tenacious in your quest. You have not given up on the thought of holding your own complete novel in your hands at the end of the month. You have sailed across eel-infested waters to claim it, and now you find one more hurdle ahead of you. However, you shall not be daunted, and thanks to all the typing you’ve been doing, you definitely have strong arms.

If you are Westley in this scenario, then Week Three is the Cliffs of Insanity. It is bracketed by the two most important word counts with the exception of 50,000: 25,000 and 35,000. That 10K climb is one of the most important in your entire NaNo experience. 25,000 is obviously the halfway mark. There’s something really cool about being able to say you’re halfway to the finish line. This milestone should come for everyone at some point this week.

The second is even more important. Westley couldn’t just grab hold of the rope at the bottom of the cliff and say, “All right, I’m done now. Toss Buttercup down to me and we’ll be on our way.” No! He had to take the rope in hand and start climbing the cliff. When Vizzini cut the rope, he had to cling to the sheer rock face with his bare hands and continue to pull himself up.

Even though 25K is halfway, 35K is the top of the cliff. That’s where you start to feel like you’re on the downward slide toward home. Taking Westley as our inspiration, once he was at the top of the cliff, everything else was pretty easy. He had to fight a duel, but he won handily. Vizzini? Simple! Iocane power will take care of him!! And then he had Buttercup and all that work was worth it.

If your week is comparable to the Cliffs of Insanity, your story’s week is like the Fire Swamp. “Unless I’m wrong, and I’m never wrong, they’re headed dead into the Fire Swamp.”

Your Inner Fred Savage is probably moaning a little at the thought. The Fire Swamp? We’ll never survive!! Smack it down with Westley’s chipper quote: “Nonsense. You’re only saying that because no one ever has.”

Week Three is one of the most awesome weeks for your story. This is when things start to happen. The characters you thought were pointless will suddenly step on a flame spurt, fall into the lightning sand, and be attacked by ROUSes. In other words, your story will start to develop… a PLOT! PLOT, you say? I don’t believe they exist. Oh, but you will my friend—you will. Just wait to see what week three brings to you. There’s a lot of craziness, and I’m not saying you’ll want to build a summer home there, but the trees are actually quite lovely.

So prepare yourself gang—Week Three is here.

Next week: Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya…

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Writing Updates! Mr. Darcy! Col. Fitzwilliam!

Today is the 1/3 mark of NaNoWriMo. I've been hard at work on my Col. Fitzwilliam story, and I am having an absolute blast. It was rough going at the start, partly because I was so dead tired on the first that I didn't write a single word. I'm on a roll now though--I've written a little bit of almost every chapter, and I'm going back through and fleshing things  out.

Are you doing NaNo? How is it going for you? Have your characters made any surprise announcements? I learned some interesting things about my villain on the second or third day of writing, and that's what really kicked the story into high gear.

As for Darcy, I am almost through with him. I'm sending digital ARCs out to reviewers right now, and then next week I'll order proof copies of the paperback from CreateSpace. Once I've got everything to my liking, I'll be hitting the big, red button marked SALE. (Okay, so there's not really a button, but I've always wanted to push one of those big, red buttons that say, "DO NOT PUSH," and this is as close as I'm likely to get.)

Unless something goes drastically wrong, I'll be hitting that button next Thursday or Friday--ONE WEEK LEFT!! I am truly in shock--I can't believe that in just a week, my book will be published. I've been doing the boring things this week, like attaching the book information to the ISBN numbers, but... really, I'm done. It's ready to go.

One week!!

His Good Opinion can be purchased from AmazonBarnes and NobleSmashwordsAmazon UKAmazon DE, and Amazon FR

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Giveaway winner!

There were 47 entries into the giveaway for the copy of the Pride and Prejudice. I stuck that number in the handy-dandy random number generator, and our lucky number is 23.

Counting down to number 23, the winning comment is:

Farida Mestek said...

I also retweeted at: https://twitter.com/#!/Nancy_Kelley/status/132552761127600128

Congratulations, Farida! Email me your address to nkelley.writes AT gmail DOT com, and I'll get your DVD in the mail by the weekend. Enjoy!

Thank you everyone for entering. I loved reading over your favorite moments of Pride and Prejudice.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Murdered By Pirates Is Good

During Week One, everything in your novel seemed perfect, almost idyllic. Your novel, and to a broader degree the act of novelling, became your “true love.” Perhaps a part of you wondered, as Buttercup does, if this fragile new relationship can withstand what life throws at it. The only answer you received was, “This is true love—do you think this happens every day?”

But one morning this week, you will wake up and find that your perfect novelling world is gone, your excitement killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts of Week Two. Your main character hates you… your plot is non-existent… that sub-plot you thought would wrap up everything neatly in chapter six creates more problems than it solves… and so on and so forth.

You’re also starting to realize the time commitment it takes to write a novel. There are stacks of dirty dishes in your kitchen and piles of laundry in your room. Your family has forgotten what you look like when your eyes aren’t glued to the monitor.

At this point, it would be tempting to echo Buttercup and say, “I will never write again.” Just as she wanted to close herself off from feeling this kind of pain ever again, you would like to avoid this deep feeling that you have let yourself down or lost one of your lifelong dreams. Here’s this week’s secret: Every single Wrimo I know has felt this way. It is normal and natural. The only question is what you will do with this feeling.

Because she vowed to never love again, Buttercup allowed herself to be betrothed to the Prince, betraying her true love. The first question Westley asked Buttercup when he revealed himself to her was, “Why didn’t you wait for me?”

“Well… I thought you were dead.”

His answer was simple: “Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.”

You and your novel have true love. Will you give that up, simply because your enthusiasm has been murdered by pirates?

Next week: The Cliffs of Insanity and The Fire Swamp

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I Have Seen the Enemy, and He Is .Mobi

Like Captain Ahab, I spent last weekend in search of Mobi. No, that's not a misspelling. (I work at a library, I can spell Moby Dick.) Mobi with an I is one of the e-book formats for Kindle.

First, can I get a cheer that I'm actually to the formatting stage? Thank you.

Now for the saga. I started Saturday with a pretty easy to follow set of instructions. I breezed through the first few steps, and then I hit a problem: The program recommended to create the mobi book is PC only. I switched to Mac at the beginning of the month.

No problem! I work at a library, I can do research! I searched for "formatting a Kindle book on a Mac." The top recommendation was for a program called Kindle Gen... and that's where I hit the second road block. I will spare you my deep and abiding hatred of this program and only say that it Is. Not. Easy.

Not easy, as in I spent hours wrestling with it.

Now, I had a really nice program on my PC called Calibre that is all about converting e-books to different formats. I did some searching and yes! Calibre works on a Mac!

So... first I saved the file as a PDF and uploaded it to Calibre, and then I converted the format. Eh, a few formatting errors, and I'm paying my Oops Detector $1/oops.

And this is where I made my fatal error. Instead of just trying again through Calibre, I went back to The Evil of Kindle Gen. More tears follow, more wailing and gnashing of teeth. I swore I would never format another one of my books, ever.

Finally, around 11:00, I decided to give Calibre one more shot. This time, I saved the file as an .RTF first and then converted. Beautiful! Perfect! As far as I can tell, anyway...

I'm calling this a victory. If it comes back from the Oops Detector with no formatting errors, I will write a step-by-step instruction sheet for Mac owners. There's really not a good one out there. (By which I mean, there's not one that doesn't include Kindle Gen.)

His Good Opinion can be purchased from AmazonBarnes and NobleSmashwordsAmazon UKAmazon DE, and Amazon FR

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Giveaway! BBC Pride and Prejudice DVD

As you know, friends, I am very nearly ready to publish His Good Opinion. This seems like a good enough reason to celebrate with a giveaway, and as my book is from Darcy's point of view, what better item to offer than a copy of the BBC Pride and Prejudice?

This is the production that gave us Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. I hope I'm not giving away too much when I say that I tested my dialogue by imagining Colin saying it.

I have one copy of the Restored Edition. As someone who owned the previous Special Edition, I can verify that the color, the texture, everything about the Restored Edition is absolutely incredible. Did you know the curtains in Mr. Darcy's room are red, or that the many of the dresses were made of patterned fabrics? Both of those facts had escaped me, due to the poor transfer quality of earlier versions.

Now, for the nitty gritty. This giveaway is open internationally. To enter, reply to this post with your favorite moment from Pride and Prejudice. For extra entries, you may:

Follow me via Google Friend Connect.

Follow me on Twitter: @nancy_kelley

Tweet about the giveaway. Here's a sample tweet: Hey #JaneAusten fans, want to #win a copy of the BBC Pride and Prejudice? Enter @nancy_kelley's #giveaway! http://bit.ly/sLRTYU

Please come back and comment for each additional entry. You can tweet about the giveaway once a day for more entries.

The giveaway closes on November 8 at 11:59 pm PST.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo Starts Today!

On Tuesdays in November, I'll be running  series of NaNoWriMo pep talks.

I was re-watching one of my favorite movies a while back, and suddenly I realized that NaNoWriMo is like The Princess Bride—both are adventures narrated by one very excited participant (you) and derided by one very snide bystander (your Internal Editor).

During the first week of NaNo, you will have all the energy and enthusiasm of the Grandfather. You’ve got a book to offer, and nothing could be better. The Grandson is your Internal Editor, constantly questioning and doubting that your story will be any good. Right from the start, the Grandson is unconvinced of the story’s appeal. “Are there any sports in it?” he asks.

How many of us have heard that little voice asking if we actually have a plot? Was our answer as good as the Grandfather’s? “Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…” (Sounds a lot like a NaNo Bingo card, doesn’t it? And whose story doesn’t include a few of those elements? I can personally check off fighting, torture, revenge, escapes, true love, and miracles.)

If you watch The Princess Bride, you learn that the secret to telling a good story lies in ignoring the heckler. He’s barely into his story when the Grandson interrupts: “Hold it, hold it! Are you trying to trick me? Where’s the sports? Is this a kissing book?”

Does the Grandfather put the book down and say, “You’re right, I’m sorry… What was I thinking, imagining I could tell an interesting story? I’ll just go on home now, and you can get back to your game.” No! He tells the kid to sit still and wait! There’s good stuff coming, and he knows it.

Here’s the secret I want you to learn this week. Your Internal Editor does not know your whole story. All it knows is the part you’ve already told, and we all know that the first chapter, or even the first third a book doesn’t show the whole picture. When that little voice starts whining at you, wondering if this is ‘a kissing book,” tell it to be patient. The good stuff is yet to come.

Next Week: The Dread Pirate Roberts