Today, I have been taking a break from my writing, only to be inspired by writing something here instead. My brief respite was brought on by the success of a commitment I made to myself in October and that was to participate again in the NaNoWriMo challenge which ran throughout this month (November). Hundreds of thousands of writers, authors and would be novelists from around the world converge during the month of November each year to achieve a 50,000 word target. To write a Novel in a month.

This is no easy task, some people take years to write theirs and even longer to see it in print (if they are lucky). But the experience of participating in a global challenge – and winning is incredibly rewarding. Most of us who chose this craft as a serious mission in life are incredibly good at the other craft of procrastination and I am a master at this! With 5 other Novels (and an autobiography) collecting dust as they are all unfinished, and procrastination being to blame, I decided to have another stab at Nano this year. To prove to myself that I could actually finish one of my projects…and if I could do that, then I know I can finish the others! ….or so I thought…..

Last year, I participated and got two weeks in with a 28,540 words…then the remainder of the month went out the window for personal reasons. For the rest of the year the disappointment of not reaching goal ate at me and because of the self imposed failure in myself, I couldn’t face going back to that Novel to finish it. That piece of work had a working title and was called ‘Retraction’…set in the future around a 15 year old genetically engineered perfect teenager who was about to be sent to the ‘Life Unit’ to be artificially inseminated to produce another genetically perfect human specimen. Sounds great, but of course all is not perfect in this dystopian story. I loved my concept and my plot and everything about my vision and now its been on the shelf for a year. So I have promised myself that I will revisit this project after I have finished what I am working on now.

Coming back to Nano, there are a few things I will mention in my participation last year and how my success this year was so different. Last year I was new and nobody in Madeira was participating. I made a few online friends on mainland and one in the UK, but none of these gave me a supportive companion who I could work with. Writing is a very lonely exercise as it requires hours and hours of concentration tapping at the keyboard and living in a world where you are stuck in your own private bubble. Your characters are in your head and they are real. They live and breath and speak and only you know them. Getting their points of view onto the page and making them go places your imagination has decided they should go, is not as easy as it sounds. As your characters become real to you, they somewhat dictate where your story is heading and not what you had envisioned in your earlier premise of the tale. When writing a novel, it can be frustrating as you want to get that story out and head in the direction you had it steered toward and your characters are being bloody obstinate as their personalities just won’t play ball! That aside, word count is king in November, so there is no time to sit and stare at the computer screen and have an argument with your alter ego…..you have to get something on that page and every day!

This year was different. I have a great friend called Irena who has already written a Novel (Link at the bottom of this post to her fantastic book). She was feeling uninspired to start on a new project, for reasons that were beyond her control, so I suggested that she join me in the ride through November and take part in the mammoth task of bashing out those 50,000 words. She wasn’t convinced…at first, until I gave her the hard sell! Reluctantly Irena agreed to take a look at the website and slowly she began to get interested. In October I took a look at my shelved projects and picked out the contender, deciding that my aim was to use Novembers task as a means to getting it finished. But when I read through my manuscript I was appalled at what crap I had written, so decided to pull it apart and start from scratch. Irena and I met up towards the end of October and chatted about our writing plans and ideas.

On November the 1st…the much awaited starting pistol on the website which authorised us all to start – went off with a bang and Irena and I started with the challenge. We exchanged emails through the website with our progress uploading our word counts each time we had been slaving away over our computers. We shared our woes, our moments of feeling defeated with each of us giving each other a few words of encouragement. As the word count gets entered each day, I was able to see how she was doing, how many words she was writing and when and the competitive streak in me took over. I either had to match her word count or better it, and found that every time Irena got in front of me, I would sit and bash out another passage or chapter to keep up or over take. For me, this was exactly what I needed. I had a writing buddy and a sparring partner. It was like being in a boxing ring and fighting it out to see who was getting the points…the result being, that we both won the match by completing our 50,000 word target 3 days before the end of November. We both won NanoWriMo and on the same day!

So, for me, I find I need a deadline to perform…and at the beginning of November I decided to participate in the sponsorship challenge too. I didn’t know at the time that by having Irena as a writing buddy that this would help push me through the month, so I set about telling everyone what I was up to and asked for sponsorship. In my mind if people were donating their money on my promise to finish then I would be beholden to them to get to the end. Put their money where my mouth was, and several people sponsored me privately and on the website which was also a huge boost to keep me going!

Winning Nano is such an achievement and yesterday I felt so happy that I set a goal and saw it through. And as a winner, that is the prize……achievement of reaching that goal! But it’s not over yet and that sense of achievement is slightly tainted as although I bashed out 50,000 words which is equal to a Novela, I haven’t actually finished my book! Now that the rigidity of the goal has been reached I am so worried that I still won’t finish this project as I no longer have a deadline, a writing buddy to spar with or anyone putting their money where my mouth is! This is a scary dilemma because as I told you before, I am a master at procrastination. Without carrots to dangle in front of me, I fear I will slip back into the lazy bitch mode again and be forever thinking about my story and never sitting down to write it!

It’s even harder now that I am on chapter 16 and about 3/4 of my way through the book. My characters have all reached the point where the shit has hit the fan and I now have to stitch the subplots and dramas together with the twist to get to the end. The most complicated part which I have been feeling is way beyond me to write!

I was thinking today as I am sure all writers and published novelists do every time they are ready to put their work out there, that there is a crisis of ‘is it shit’ or ‘I have just written a whole heap of crap’…and as no one has seen it yet, so you have no way of knowing whether it really is a whole heap of crap!

But one thing is for sure, whatever I have bashed out this month will need a complete overhaul and rewrite once I get to the end. Writing 50,000 words in one month is purely a rush job, a skeleton of a story whereby the growth of flesh and painting of features is needed later on to make it readable if at all marketable to the public.

So, for now I have made myself a goal, that I must get to the end of the book by Christmas….the housework can wait, and as I have no social life anyway, I might as well finish this project as intended…….will anyone like it after its finished? Who cares!

I sort of kept a blog throughout the month on the donation website and was reading through my posts this evening which inspired me to write this one. I have copied it to here as it contains my very ROUGH DRAFT of an into and excerpt of a chapter I have been working on…so don’t expect much if you read any further!

I DID IT! I AM A NANO WINNER!!!!

Update #11  •   Posted 1 day(s) ago

I did it! I actually did it! And I am so over the moon…I did it!!!!!!!!

I reached the target of 50,000 words, uploaded the manuscript to have it officially verified and now yours truly is a 2014 NaNoWriMo official winner.

Did I say, I did it? oh yes….I did it!

It’s been a bloody tough journey and a huge learning curve to do so much in a month (also chuffed that I did this 3 days before deadline)! I will be celebrating on December the first with my freind Irena who also won today…..YAY!

And you have all helped me to get there! By donating so generously and putting your money where my mouth was, you have helped to give me that shove to keep going. So a huge thank you for being as big a part of this experience.

BUT and this is the sad part….my book isn’t finished 😦 I am up to chapter 16 and in reality only 3/4 of the way there. And now I have reached this goal I need a new one to see it to the end!

Anyway, thanks again everyone for all your support…..if you would like to read any of it, let me know.

41,029 words in and 8 days left!

Update #10  •   Posted 6 day(s) ago

Can’t wait to get to the end of November and get a life!

Word total update: 32,174

Update #9  •   Posted 9 day(s) ago

So, after an afternoon of some graft and having just updated my word count to the NANO website, I decided to give you all another progress report. It occurred to me that with this Nano word goal, anyone who isn’t participating will probably have no idea what it means or rather what it actually looks like! So to give you a rough idea and also to PROVE that I am actually writing something (and not fictitiously plucking numbers out of the air)…I took a photo!

Below is my manuscript, which holds to date 32,174 words, which is at present 92 A4 pages long in single space, courior font, pica 12.

I bet you are all wondering if by reaching my target of 50,000 words means, is that where I finish my book? Well, it doesn’t have to be…….I might get to the end of the story in the 50,000 word race, but that is because I am working on the skeleton, the idea behind it. Most Novels run from around 80,000 to 120,000 words (A Novella is around 50,000). I might get beyond the 50,000 if my idea takes me further, but its the word count that matters, not the end of the story. But this is the start. Once the bare bones of the story is laid out (or skeleton or foundation – whichever phrase to help you understand the concept)  then I have something to work with. At this point it still isn’t really ready to be read by anyone (hence my lack of snippets for you all to read) as this is a first or rough draft. This will need several rewrites to fine tune it, flesh it out, add depth and iron out all the plot holes and foibles with the dialogue etc

What happens after that I can hear you asking……..not much really. A few people might offer to read the whole thing and then give me some feedback. If it’s good feedback, I might look at getting a proffessional Editor to give it the once over and their opinion as to whether it would be a viable project to market. Finding an agent is the norm, but these days it’s difficult to find someone who will take on an unknown. There is always the self publishing route and I might explore that avenue.

I can also hear you asking…then why are you bothering?  And the answer is simple, I love to write! But also, I have started about 5 different Novels and all are unfinished! Last year I failed nanowrimo and this year I am determnined to not only finish it and win but to also finish one of my Novels as I know that once I have got the first one done and dusted, I will have the motivation to finish the others!

A week since I updated! I have passed the half way point!

Update #8  •   Posted 11 day(s) ago

I can’t beleive a whole week has passed, not sure where the time has gone, but I have at least reached the half way point and there is no return! My word count now stands at 26,037 and 13 days left to write the other 23,963 to reach goal!

It’s a hard road, writing in a short time frame as one has to force oneself to get the work done even when not inspired. And inspiration is not the only problem, motivation is even harder when the creative juices just don’t want to flow. However, I have learnt something from this, and by sitting down in front of the computer and forcing myself to write something, no matter how crappy it reads, once the words start to fill the page, the inspiration starts to flow as quickly as the words do.

I am not a habitual person, so I find that setting aside a time each day to write for me doesn’t work, I am fantastic at procrastinating and thinking about the story line..I can live, eat and breath it, but the hardest part is sitting down and getting onto the computer. If only I could USB my brain directly into it and churn out those thoughts and ideas onto the pages wthout actually writing them, if I could do that I would have enough material for 10 books!

So, I bet you are wondering where my story is at? Would you all like a few sneaks and excerpts of it? Let me know and I will post a few..meantime I am off to go and kill one of my characters off….

14,531 words in!

Update #7  •   Posted 19 day(s) ago

I need to step up the word count as it’s fallen a little low on the target daily count to reach the full 50,000. I am living eating a breathing my chracters and the story line at the moment but having difficulty knowing where to slot the extra plots in that snuck into the story! As you write these things, its all very well having a plan and working out your story line before you start, the problem is that your characters evolve as you write them and so does more of the back story!

Anyhow, thought you all may like a little exerpt bearing in mind its a very very rough draft and spellings, descriptions and all the foibles will get ironed out later on as at the moment the deal is to bach out the bear bones and get to the end, then flesh it out later.

From Chapter 2

Skye had never been on a cruise ship and she wasn’t exactly over the moon when Jeffery had given her a ticket. Her growing resentment toward him through out her home imprisonment didn’t dissipate. Even when he announced that she was Virus free and she was being packed off on a cruise. They had argued about it extensively. She demanding to stay at home, he ordering her to take the trip. He tried to explain, that Sean had organized it for her, before he died. He had implemented the plan so that his wife could be one of the few that could get off land for a while and away from danger.

This was not a holiday he explained, but a voyage at sea, away from the risks of contracting the deadly virus that was reaping the land. Only healthy people were allowed on board and had the means to buy into the expensive floating quarantine. He told her that she was an ungrateful bitch for being so obtuse about the idea and this just sickened her more. Still grieving and being in the same room as the man who had delivered the news in a way a dentist would tell a child that he needed to pull a tooth and without aneasthetic……Seans brother was an emotionless prick.

Whilst being hauled up in her home for three weeks, enduring bland food parcels left on the doorstep and no company but for the depressing news on the television, Skye thought she would go mad. A trip outside was all she craved for, or to at least talk face to face with the house police other than through the window. She did not look forward to Jeffery’s visits that made her feel dirty every time he stepped over her threshold in one of those rediculous suits.

“You can take that ticket and shove it where the sun don’t shine!” She had screamed at him countless times, but all she got back was..

“Yes, you could but my arse isn’t allowed on the boat, yours is”.

“This isn’t fair, sean should be coming on the cruise with me!” Was another one of her rants, and his response was cold and cutting.

“Well he can’t…he’s dead”.

Eventually she ran out of steam as clearly Jeffery wasn’t going to leave until she had packed her bags and would get into the ambulance waiting outside the door. Skye begrudgingly grabbed a suitcase from under the stairs and retreated to her room, she sat on the bed looking at the empty receptacle and could hear Jeffery impatiently pacing the room below. Without giving any thought to what should go in it, she dumped a few draws onto the bed and threw whatever took her fancy into the case, the wardrobe she treated with the same fashion. Once she had it zipped up, she grabbed the photo of Sean from her bedside table and tucked it into her handbag. Skye sat on the bed again ignoring Jeffery’s calls to hurry up from the bottom of the stairs and opened her mobile phone. Once again dialing the number of her mother, but clasped it shut again when she heard the same monotonous tone that wouldn’t connect her as it hadn’t hundreds of times before.

As she descended the stairs Jeffery was standing with two men in PPE suits who man handled  her roughly out the door and swiftly into the ambulance. As he went to shut her in, he stood for a moment, his brown eyes devouring hers,and said. “You know something Skye? You are one lucky bitch to be going where you are going. So many more people, more worthy than you should be on that ship. I only hope that you don’t waste your time wallowing in your misery. Sean is turning in his grave for sure seeing you resist this golden ticket and chance to have a better life when others can’t!”

As she retreated into the seat, she was angry at the way he had insulted her. If he hadn’t have closed that door so quickly she would have slapped him. But once she calmed down the words he said began to play on her mind. What did he mean by the chance to have a better life when others can’t. She was now filled with dread at the prospect of being shipped off to some far and distant land that she didn’t want to go and kicked herself for not asking him where the cruise was going. Now shut inside the speeding vehicle with no reason lefts to keep her life where it was, she sat back, closed her eyes and prayed for the first time in her life. If God existed, she reasoned, then it wouldn’t hurt to ask. As her subconscious drifted to the sway of the vehicle her, all hopes of ever speaking to her mother again were slowly fading but the fear of the unknown was more intense. She reached the point where she didn’t care now and sat looking at the empty bed in front of her wishing she was in it and off to the morgue.

Day 4..and on target!

Update #6  •   Posted 25 day(s) ago

I am 8441 words in!

I started..as promised! Intro or Forward to my Novel

Update #5  •   Posted 28 day(s) ago

Please bear in mind this is 1st draft!!!!!!!!!!

In late 2013, a small child in Guinea fell ill. This is nothing new for a rural and remote village situated deep in the countryside. Modern doctors and medical supplies are scarce and naturally the mother did her best under the circumstances. It wasn’t until she and another close relative died,their deaths were painful and horrific. Word started to spread, almost at the same rate as the virus.

It is believed that a Fruit Bat was responsible for the outbreak. A small creature that was often a source of food for the tribal influences in that area. It just took one animal and contact with a human being to pass it on. Poor hygiene and food preparation on this single occasion ultimately led to a global threat.

Once the bongo drums had thumped their way around the country, weeks had passed and clusters of the virus had spread into other villages and small towns. Bodies were given quick burials, but those who came into contact with them, succumbed to the deadly pathogen themselves.

By the time WHO (The World Health Organisation) intervened, small outbreaks had begun popping up in Sierra Lione, Libeira, Nigeria and Senegal.By mid 2014 the virus had reached the USA, Canada, Australia and Norway. Ebola had broken the African borders, something that had never happened before and had now been unleashed to reap havoc with other parts of the world.

For a pathogen that has a very quick function by killing it’s host within days, Ebola theoretically should have been kept under control and eradicated as quickly as it took hold. And it would have, had it not had the chance to mutate under different conditions by arriving with an infected host to new climates and with that, new sources of flesh to devour. At fist sign it is easily brushed off as the common cold or onset of influenza, but by that time it is too late as after the fever, it attacks the internal organs that shut down and melt into a rotten mush. Anyone who has come into contact with any type of fluid that is expelled from the infected, becomes infected themselves. And families who have not suspected that a loved one is in the early stages of it are at most risk. This started in guinea, with that child and its mother. Now the world is exposed.

At the end of 2014, after governments had debated the subject until exhaustion and the public had stopped listening as nothing new emerged, it seemed to go quiet. Ebola looked to be under control again, but the odd case here and there would pop up every so often, that would mildly regain their interest. Screening and controls at airports and Ports were still in force and everyone found it a nuisance to travel. After the relaxed situation and lack of information on the news and social media, everyone around the World was shocked when a global announcement was circumvented across the Media and everyone who had a television, tablet or mobile phone was alerted to the next installment of the now Ebola crisis. In June 2015 the truth was unleashed. The Ebola virus had mutated and was now airborne. It was revealed that the virus had gone dormant over the months before the last publicized outbreak and that scientists had been rallying to find a cure. After it had reached other shores in mid 2014 and efforts were made to contain it, it appeared that the virus had no plans to leave.

Vaccines released too early and without FDA approval, were rushed into the medical systems across the globe which forced the virus into survival mode. Not only could it now be passed on by being in immediate contact with someone else who was breathing the same air, it could also use its host to carry it without the host even knowing. Screening everybody that breathed, to see if they were carriers or not was of an enormous magnitude and governments squabbled about how to implement it. Everyone argued that their resources could not cope with the demand and so a global alliance of campaign was implemented.

On 31st December 2016 all air travel was suspended between countries. Ports and borders were closed.And the world went into a panic. Life and the way everyone had lived it, was suspended. Each country now had to fend for itself. Guinea was free of Ebola.

Nano has begun..and so have I!

Update #4  •   Posted 29 day(s) ago

Here’s to the start…..wish me luck!

Synopsis of the book

Update #3  •   Posted 37 day(s) ago

Fast forward to five years from now, the Ebola Virus has now become airborne and is mutating faster than scientists can cope. Quarantine institutions are as large as major cities and the world is in a mess. There is one small corner of the world where the virus hasn’t reached, a small remote island stuck out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. As the Epidemic rampages around the Globe, with communication reserved for military and government, the island and its inhabitants soon became a forgotten race. Angela has survived for two years. One of a few foreigners who didn’t race back home to be with their family or when the expulsion of the elderly, infirm and ill were packed off to the mainland. But the self sufficient island is soon in jeopardy when a cruise liner packed with rich and seemingly healthy haven seekers tries to dock in need of supplies. When Angela learns that her widowed daughter is on board, she must find away to sneak her off the ship so that they can be together again. But at what cost? Could her own daughter be a carrier of the deadly pathogen, and if so, will Angela unwittingly unleash the deadly virus on her neighbours? With so much at risk, and with nowhere else to run and hide – what would you do if it was your flesh and blood?

But there is more to the cruise ship and it’s passengers than just stopping for supplies. As news spreads of the occupants aboard the liner it seems that everyone left on the island has a relative onboard. A flurry of panic and elation, then subordination toward the powers who run the island manifest, as everyone wants the ship and its cargo to stay. No one is asking why this particular cruise liner is filled with the families of the inhabitants nor do they care. At the risk of losing her own daughter, Angela must find out why, how and who sent them and before they are allowed to disembark to rejoin their families and risk the only few remaining people in the world free from extinction. As she delves into the mystery of why, Angela uncovers an unthinkable plot of governments coercing to cull the worlds population and the startling possibility that the virus was planned as a means of control. And what about her daughter and the boat load of long lost relatives?

Angela must find away to save her island from contamination, whilst searching for the truth…..But the passengers aboard the cruise liner hold more secrets than she can imagine and her daughter is the key.

The book I am working on!

Update #2  •   Posted 38 day(s) ago

I have just launched my page to get sponsorship for Nanowrimo – test LOL

Update #1  •   Posted 38 day(s) ago

Link to Irena’s Novel

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