I’m a NaNoWriMo winner!



If that looks like a NaNoWriMo winner banner at the top of this post, that’s because that’s what it is.

At 3:48 a.m. I topped 50,000 words for November!

Conveniently, I also finished out Jackson Speed at the High Tide. I still have edits and rewrites in front of me, and who knows how long that takes because I do not believe there is a NaNoEdiMo in December (National Novel Editing Month) or a NaNoReWriMo in January. But with the novel finished I think it won’t be long now before I can get that baby polished up and ready to present to the world.

I’ll come back later when my fingers aren’t so sore from all the writing I did this last week and talk a little more about NaNoWriMo. Honestly, I was very skeptical about the value of it before I did it, but now I’m a true believer.

Anyway, as always, I owe Jean a huge THANK YOU for constantly supporting me in whatever foolish endeavors I get into.

Over the past week, when I was in a 30,000 word hole and trying to write my way out, my beautiful wife created an environment where I could do it. She only once interrupted me while I was writing (and that was to spend three minutes building a fire in the fireplace last night) and at least twice – probably more that I did not notice – she took on my chores around the house so that I could stay planted in my chair at my keyboard. She didn’t complain when I didn’t come to bed at night this past week, and she didn’t gripe when I couldn’t wake up in the mornings because I’d been up so late writing.

Jackson Speed at the High Tide comes in at a staggering 101,900 words (by way of comparison, the other Speed books are all around 65,000 to 70,000). I imagine it will be shorter or longer when I’m done editing, but I don’t know that I ever expected to write a 100,000-word novel.

I think it’s good stuff, too. If you’re a fan of the other Jackson Speed novels, I do not think this one will disappoint. It picks up immediately where Jackson Speed on the Orange Turnpike left off.

If you were following my progress and rooting for me, thank you so much. Over the course of the last week I got some kind words of encouragement from some friends, and I appreciate that. If you were following my progress and deep down wanted to see me fail, then the only thing I can say to you is, eat that!

Now I’m going to go watch some Walking Dead and then go to bed early.

November 24, ready to start on NaNoWriMo


Six days left in NaNoWriMo and I’m ready to get started. 50,000 words in six days? No sweat.

For those not familiar, November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short). The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

Somewhere along the way I became intrigued with the idea of participating in NaNoWriMo. I wrote the first Jackson Speed novel (El Teneria) in 28 days. It came in around 60,000 words. But I did that in June of 2012, so I picked the wrong month to do it and it didn’t count. But I figured if I could do it once, I could do it again.

My initial plan for NaNoWriMowas to write the fifth Jackson Speed novel, and in October I sort of started doing research for that book. But I never really got moving on the research the way I needed to. And I’m still writing the fourth book, and I found it harder than I thought I would to switch from one book to another.

The rules of NaNoWriMo allow me to finish an already-started novel as long as I write 50,000 words in 30 days. I was already just over 50,000 words into High Tide, and I’ve always figured it would be close to 100,000 words (much longer than the other three Speed novels, but it is Gettysburg, after all).

So a couple of weeks ago I abandoned my initial plans and decided to just keep rolling on the fourth book, Jackson Speed at the High Tide.

But November has been terribly busy for me. The boys have had soccer games and tournaments on the weekends and it’s been cold and I’ve been sleepy a lot. The result is I haven’t been writing much at all.

I’ve got six days left in NaNoWriMo and I’ve written somewhere between 16,000 and 20,000 words. So I’m not really starting from scratch with just six days to go, but I am very much in a hole.

But I’ve not given up. If I can write an average of 5,000 words over the next six days, I can still win NaNoWriMo, and I think I can do it. I’ve got a couple of days off from work this week thanks to Thanksgiving, and there’re no soccer games this weekend.

So I’m deep in a hole, but I’m committed to seeing this thing through.

I’ll post an update December 1 (or sometime thereabouts) and let you know how it turned out.

In the meantime, keep watching this space. My hope is to release some short stories prior to Christmas for all you people who have Kindles on your wish lists.

50K words in 30 days

The last time I checked the word count I was just over 53,000 words into Jackson Speed at the High Tide. I might be up to about 55,000 now.

I’ve been working on this fourth novel in the Jackson Speed Memoirs for more than a year, pausing periodically to finish up other projects (including Jackson Speed on the Orange Turnpike which was published in May).

The previous three Speed novels were all between 65,000 and 70,000 words, and generally that is my target length when I’m writing. However, I believe High Tide – which takes up Jackson Speed’s involvement in the three day battle of Gettysburg – is going to turn out to be a good bit longer.

At 53,000 words, I am only up to about 3 p.m. on July 2, 1863 (the moment the second day’s fighting started). Granted, about half of what I have written so far involves the month or so leading up to the war, but I suspect I’m still at least 30,000 words from finishing, maybe more than that. It seems like there is a lot of story left to tell, and I could easily see this book approaching 100,000 words.

My intention was to have the book ready for my editor well before the end of the year (maybe by the end of October), and at my current pace I suppose that’s still possible. Because life and work and kids’ soccer games tend to get in the way, I suspect it could be next spring before I’m done.

I’ve never liked working exclusively on one project. Instead, I like having lots of irons in the fire at one time. So to keep plenty of irons heating up, today I made the decision to go ahead and start the fifth book in the Jackson Speed Memoirs in November.

Among the writing community the NaNoWriMo challenge is a pretty big deal. This is a challenge where you set a goal of writing a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. Lots of authors do it with varying degrees of success.

I’m not big on gimmicks, but if you know the story of my first Jackson Speed novel, then you know that I wrote the thing at a frantic pace. I skipped meals, wrote at work, stayed up all night writing and in 28 days I’d knocked out a 65,000 word novel.

But when I did that I’d never heard of NaNoWriMo, and I did it from mid-May to mid-June of 2012 so it didn’t count for the National Novel Writing Month.

Since first finding out about it, I’ve thought often about maybe trying to participate NaNoWriMo, and I’ve decided now that I am going to. I signed up today for NaNoWriMo 2014, and I am going to start getting some of the preliminary research done for the fifth Jackson Speed novel so that come November I can hit the ground running.

My goal is to put myself in a position where next spring I can publish back-to-back Jackson Speed novels. I’m really excited about it, and I hope it doesn’t turn into a complete disaster where I can’t get anything done – that’s as possible as being able to finish two novels at roughly the same time.

But, the challenge is made doubly difficult because all through November AMC will be airing new episodes of The Walking Dead, and obviously TWD will take precedence over Jackson Speed (or anything else).