Top Five Reasons I Nano


It’s November, and you know that means?

Never mind that there are only seven weekends until Christmas.

Never mind that your carpets need cleaning for your Thanksgiving guests.

There are only 30 days left to write at least 50,000 words of my next novel!

That’s because November is National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo.

In case you’re wondering what the heck that is, here’s a few NaNoWriMo facts:

According to their website, NaNoWriMo believes stories matter. The event began in 1999, and in 2005, National Novel Writing Month became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

NaNoWriMo’s programs now include National Novel Writing Month in November, Camp NaNoWriMo, the Young Writers Program, Come Write In, and the “Now What?” Months.

In 2014:

  • 325,142 participants, including 81,311 students and educators in the Young Writers Program, started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.
  • 849 libraries, bookstores, and community centers opened their doors to novelists through the Come Write In program.
  • 55,774 Campers tackled a writing project—novel or not—at Camp NaNoWriMo.

Over 250 NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published.
They include Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Hugh Howey’s Wool, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Jason Hough’s The Darwin Elevator, and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder…

and ME!

Yes, both of my novels’ wee little, pitiful, awful, humble first drafts began during NaNoWriMo.

While I, like most of you, have too much on my plate during the last months of the year, there are a few good reasons why I participate in the craziness of NaNoWriMo. Notice I said I participate. I have never actually achieved the end goal of 50,000 words, but I have written decent amounts, and that, for me, is enough. After all, a novel has to start someplace.

So if you’re wondering about my good reasons, here they are:


What could be more motivating than knowing over a quarter of a million other nuts like me are also writing their heads off? That over a quarter of a million other freaks are pouring their unrefined streams of consciousness onto paper? That over a quarter of a million other insane souls are drinking great vats of coffee and pushing and clawing and groveling their way through thirty nerve-wracking days to create the next great American novel? Only NaNoWriMo can motivate like that.


In case you haven’t noticed, writers are a special breed. We are introverts and hermits. You’ll find us on the fringes of society and the back rows of churches. We hog prime space in coffee houses and wear beanies and have piercings and inhale chocolate and feel like Allison in The Breakfast Club is our intellectual soul mate. But put us in a room (virtual or otherwise) with other writers, and we come alive. We laugh at jokes about commas and grammar. We raise our fists at the unjust fame of E.L. James’ crappy prose. We go on wild chases after muses and boys in basements. And we believe again in the dream that story–perhaps even our wee little, pitiful, awful, humble story–can change the world.


You think dogs and squirrels are bad. Let me tell you, I am the poster child for the distracted mind. What, between laundry and Pinterest, three teenagers and as many dogs, bills and my day job, books I have to read and books I want to read, Instagram and the cursed emergence of adult coloring books, there is no end to my inability to focus on writing. NaNoWriMo really helps me sit my butt in the chair and put my fingers on the keyboard.


Despite the fact that I just spent the entire previous paragraph lamenting my affinity towards distraction, NaNoWriMo actually provides me with a welcome distraction. From all my distractions.


NaNoWriMo is fun. Even if I don’t hit my 50,000 word count goal, reasons 1-4 are reason enough to take the time and energy to try. At the end of November, it won’t doesn’t matter if my manuscript is hot mess. It won’t matter if my characters are flat and my prose is full of cliche’s and my plot is full of holes. What matters…

…what always matters…

is that I…that we…have written. 

(Besides that, I have a deadline for my fourth published novel due in the spring! WAHOOOO!!!!)

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, I’d like to offer you these parting words from Anne LaMott as we sojourn into the remaining thirty days:



“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”

Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life


That’s why I NaNo.

How about you? 


Here’s my novel manuscript all plotted out:  

And here are my 2/3 dogs and laundry, which will continue to be neglected for the next thirty days:


Dear Reader, Have you ever wondered what an author’s life is like for her kids?


Dear Reader,

Perception often differs from reality.

Take the writing life, for instance.

If you’re tempted to think it’s a glamorous lifestyle, think not just pajamas, but the same pajamas, three days in a row, with maybe an occasional tooth brushing in there somewhere. 

My dogs stare at me all day long, wishing I’d take them for a walk.

My husband does a lot of the cooking, 1) because he’s an amazing cook and 2) because he realized you can’t feed teenagers solely waffles and Pop-Tarts.

But don’t take my word for it.

Just ask my kids.

(Note: I don’t post pictures, information, or the names of my kiddos online, so they’re identified by birth order: O = the oldest, M = middle, and Y = the youngest. They’re all teenagers and they’re every bit as astute and hilarious and convicting as their answers indicate.)

1) What’s the best thing about having a mom who writes books?

O: We get to read her books before anyone else.

M: She could be famous.

Y: I like to think that my mom has done something big in the world.

2) What’s the worst thing about having a mom who writes books?

O: She gets really stressed out and worried whenever one of her deadlines gets close. 

M: She doesn’t feed me at night. Just kidding. I’d say, probably the writing all the time, I guess.

Y: I don’t like her being on her computer all the time, even though I’m on my computer all the time.

3) Your mom writes about some pretty serious topics sometimes. How does that make you feel?

O: I think that she writes about topics that are either rarely discussed or topics that people try to avoid even though the topics she writes about are incredibly relevant and important and today’s world. 

M: That’s cool she’s passionate.

Y: That’s cool. And I become interested in the topics she’s writing about.

4) What sort of book do you wish your mom would write?

O: I think that the types of books she’s writing right now is perfect. I honestly can’t see her writing anything other than christian fiction.

M: Historical fiction, like The Jungle or The Great Gatsby.

Y: Historical fiction, an alternate version of reality in history, like instead of George Washington saying “no” to becoming a king, he says “yes” to being a king and it would show what America would be like.

5) What are some of your mom’s worst or weirdest writing habits?

O: Her weirdest writing habits would have to be the absurd amount of coffee she drinks whenever she’s writing. 


Y: Editing all of my school essays.

6) What’s the one thing you wish people who read your mom’s books would know about what it’s like to have her for a mom?

O: I want people to know that it’s hard to write a book and that sometimes a writer needs their space in order to come up with ideas. We’ve had to learn how to deal with that situation a few times and it has taught our family to be patient and caring whenever she’s trying to finish her writing. 

M: I dunno.

Y: It’s fun, but it’s boring.


Ahhh, out of the mouths of babes!

So you see, I don’t have it all together.

Not anywhere close.

And I clearly drink too much coffee. 

What do YOU want to know about the life of a writer?

Post or email me a question and I’d be glad to answer it on one of my future posts!


Dear Reader is a series I post on every week. If you’re a reader and have an idea or question you’d like me to write about, relating to books or writing or editing, etc., jot me a note and I’d be much obliged to take a stab at your request. Also, if you’d like to read all the Dear Reader posts, click here. If you like insider information into my books or writing life, be sure to sign up for my author newsletter by clicking here.

Dear Reader, Do you ever need a brain break?

Hi dear readers! Since I’ve been posting so many blogs about book spine colors, I thought I’d just go way off the beaten path and chase a squirrel today and share with you a couple of colorful home improvement projects I manically and maniacally threw myself into last weekend after submitting copy edits for Lead Me Home to my editor.

Copy editing, while truly my favorite part of the writing process, is also the most mentally exhausting. So when I hit the “send” key, I tend to collapse–at least in the writing and reading sense.

Painting and decorating and upcycling  have always been BIG stress releases for my mind and even my body, which had been too-long hunched over my laptop. And I think the fact that I can start and finish a painting or decorating project in a few hours or a couple of days helps restore my confidence in being able to accomplish something. You see, the middle of editing a novel manuscript can make a writer feel like they will never, ever be done.




So without further delay, I’ll accomplish this blog post and show you my before and afters and reveals and cheats and hacks!

First up, the inside of our front door. I’d seen this trend all over Pinterest and it looks so “WOW” I decided to try it. And WOW it is, IMHO:


Thanks, Pinterest!

The second project was redecorating and repurposing the room in our house that is supposed to be a dining room. But come on, who really eats in their dining room? Maybe if we had guests more often, but no one wants to visit us because of our three big slobbery dogs. And besides that, the room became an oversized, 10×12 junk drawer. Catch-all. Disaster.



Evidently I’ve loved the colors red, green and gold so much it paid off, because I truly only bought paint and the fabric for the curtains. (Don’t you just love those great big happy checks? I’ve been eyeing that fabric for years!) the settee was a cast-off, the barn paintings were from a friend, and I had the little flowered chairs for over 15 years. There are two walls that will have BIG white bookshelves for our BIG stacks of books and that we’re still waiting to get, but I’m so happy we have a brand new-to-us, usable room.

The third project is the red bench in the pictures above. The room needed a footstool, but I couldn’t find any I liked. So I had a white wooden bench, a fabric remnant, and bought some foam from Hobby Lobby (Lord have mercy, people, don’t let me go into that store alone anymore!!!):

I put the labels of the foam and batting on here in case anyone wanted to know:

IMG_8369THIS product is brilliant. The person who invented it needs a Pulitzer or Nobel or Grammy or all three, because instead of having to pound in every. single. nail. you just pound in every 6th!   
Oh, and please note that a heavy duty staple gun is essential for this project and life in general.

So, that’s it, dear readers!

Put a link in the comments about your favorite project, and why!


Dear Reader is a series I post on every week. If you’re a reader and have an idea or question you’d like me to write about, relating to books or writing or editing, etc., jot me a note and I’d be much obliged to take a stab at your request. Also, if you’d like to read all the Dear Reader posts, click here. If you like insider information into my books or writing life, be sure to sign up for my author newsletter by clicking here.