NaNoWriMo

PSA: National Novel Writing Month starts on Tuesday! If you’ve ever tried to write a novel or promised yourself, “One day I’ll do it!”, now is your chance. NaNoWriMo sets a goal for contestants to write 1,667 words per day for 30 days. The minimum word count for a book to be considered a novel (instead of a novella or novelette) is 50,000 words. So, by the end of the month, you’ll have a novel-length project!

Granted, most of the popular fiction for YA and adults hovers around 80-85,000 words (depending on genre) so you might end up with over half your book drafted in just one month, which is still pretty good. I signed up at nanowrimo.org to try and meet other writers in the area and participate in some write-in events.

I’m not sticking to the ‘true’ spirit of NaNo and starting from page one, because…I already hit 50k on my current draft this past week! As I type this, I’m at 53,152 words, and I have no idea how I’m going to fit the rest of the story into the next 30,000 words. However, my NaNo goals will be to FINISH my draft this month and get a jump start on editing. December will be for polishing and writing query letter/synopsis, and I’ll start to pitch in January if all goes to plan. Maybe by voicing this to all you people I’ll be able to stick to it!

This may be the fastest I’ve ever written a book—from concept/prewriting at the end of July, to a completed project by December. Title reveal and details once this thing is done, but here’s a little hint with this mood board 😉

Love,

Taylor (and Conor, W, and R, who support my writing every day)

1 in 6,000

What if someone told you that your chances of winning the lottery were 1 in 6,000? You don’t even have to pay cash to play! The cost of entry is simply two years of your time, part of your sanity, and oh yeah, a piece of your soul. How do you feel about the odds now?

The chances of landing a literary agent are estimated to be 1 in 6,000. The best book agents get upwards of 1,500 queries per MONTH. They will only sign a handful of clients per year. Other writers say you’re getting close when you’ve had a handful of full manuscript requests. “It just needs to get in front of the right eyes!” and “You just have to keep going!”

Agents that request are first wowed by your query letter. Then they have to love the sample pages. Then they spend the time and energy to read through the projects that they think have potential, and if you’re lucky, they give you feedback along with their pass. That is the best an author can hope for until they get the fateful email that offers representation.

I’ve had full requests on manuscripts since 2015. Does trying for 7 years still mean I’m close? Yet I still get my hopes up every time I send one off. “This is it! I’m going to be let into the promised land of publishing!” What is the deal with this ever-loving HOPE that keeps me doing this? Rationally, I know the odds. What amount of writer’s hubris do I possess that makes me think I deserve to be the one?

I shelved Hedge Dancer this week. The full manuscript was rejected (with very kind and thoughtful feedback) by a lovely agent and I’m feeling rather down about it, if you can’t tell by the previous four paragraphs in this post. I will no longer be pitching that project and it will reside in my metaphorical desk drawer until when and if I ever decide to revisit it.

I’m pouring all my energy into this next project. Word count update: I am 31,000 words in. Around 50k left to go. Then I’ll edit. And write a query letter. Then I’ll research agents. Send it out. And hope.

Damnit.

Love,

Taylor

Sometimes we gotta keep on dancing

Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice

I’ve been hit hard by August melancholy this week and the singular beauty that briefly encompasses the end of summer and the beginning of fall. It’s such a small window of transition where we all hold our breath and wait, suddenly realizing that those endless summer nights have subtly gotten shorter, and the mornings need a sweatshirt.

Over the past five years, September has marked the start of hurricane season. Fall meant checking the hurricane update every day and knowing in our guts an evacuation was coming. The heat held on as long as possible, remaining well into the 80’s through Halloween some years. Even back before we had the boat, California also liked to skip autumn.

But this window reminds me to pause, instead of pushing forward through each change like I usually do. It isn’t just suspension, however, I am actually being brought back in time. I don’t know if it is because I’m writing my first YA novel, or the temperature drop over Labor Day weekend always meant back to school, but I don’t feel like a 32-year-old mother of two.

Instead of sending my own four-year-old off to school this week, I half-expect to walk out the front door and find my little gold 1995 Honda parked in the driveway, pom poms in the back window. I am forever sixteen in September, spending my Friday nights under the bright lights of a stadium. My nose is numb but my body is warm, cheering on a team everyone knows is not very good but we do it anyway.

I have no desire to relive these years. Once was enough! But this time of year seems to have brought back the memories with a poignancy I had not expected. I choose to think of it as a little visit from my former self, and maybe I’ll get to see her every September from now on. Maybe she’ll be proud to see what changes each year brings me, and I’ll greet her memory as a reminder of how far I’ve come.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go season everything in my life with pumpkin spice.

Love,

Taylor (Conor, W, and R, too!)

Book #6

I started a new book project this week. If anyone else is keeping track, this is will be my 6th book. Every time I finish a novel, I think that will be the last one, convinced that there are no more stories inside me. Then, inevitably, an idea starts to take hold. With Cloaked, it was the opening scene. With Sonder Village, it was the setting. With Hedge Dancer (the book I’m pitching now), it was an effervescent main character who had to be shared with the world.

I was very afraid this past year that I really was out of stories. Usually, my brain needs a 6 month break before notes, bullet points, and quotes start finding their way to scrap paper. I finished Hedge Dancer in September, and come February, there were still crickets. All spring I waited, amid the moving chaos, for something real to take hold. My mind and my body were still whispering ‘rest’, and for once, instead of trying to do it all, I listened.

So much of writer advice is “Butt in chair!” “Those words won’t write themselves!” “Habit over waiting for inspiration to strike!” A lot of times it is true, and this advice pushed me to complete five novels. But I had drifted too far from myself, and I needed to get back to me before I could create imaginary people with the love and depth they deserve. I’m finally reading more, devouring books like I used to when I was a teenager. I’m falling into more frequent posting on here without it feeling like a chore. My consistent workouts are helping me so much mentally. I feel surrounded and supported by family and loved ones.

The craving to put pen to paper started two weeks ago, but I forced myself to wait. My wonderful, fabulous sister got married last week and I needed to focus all my energy on her special day. Emotions from that day left me on such a high that I just had to start right after.

Radiant bride

I usually write adult fiction, so this urge to write a YA novel took me by surprise. I will update on the drafting process in the coming months. I hope I can pull this off.

Love,

Taylor