Nanowrimo Spotlight: DaniPhoenix, not your average firebird

October 25, 2014

Good morning! It’s spotlight time again, and the spotlight falls on DaniPhoenix, who blogs at Here’s Dani with her Nanowrimo history rundown:

This is my second Nano (2012), I didn’t finish. I am determined to finish the novel that I have been steadily working on this year. I am at 65,000 words currently and need another 60,000 to finish. I love the camaraderie of my fellow writers, the support that I have received has been inspiring. Sometimes I feel like I am on an island by myself with any writing issues that I may be having at the moment and being able to find others that are having similar roadblocks is comforting and reassuring. I like knowing that I am not the only crazy! In addition, the resources available to Wrimos is invaluable; I have learned so much between the downloads offered to the forums.

What are you writing about this year?
This year I am finishing a historical romance within a contemporary romance. With a bit of mystery and adventure.

What is your favorite book – you have to pick just one!
Oh dear, favorite book, I think at this point in my writing career I would choose JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I love the wonder, the descriptions of the scenery, buildings, and characterizations. I discovered a whole new world with Harry, it still sticks with me, even today. I guess its like that childhood Christmas feeling- the anticipation, excitement, and the build up to the hopefully happy ending.

What advice would you give to all your fellow Wrimos?
My advice to my fellow Wrimos is to put yourself out there, “meet” other writers, participate in the forums section, use the resources that are freely given by other Wrimos and the sponsors. Utilize the massive amount of combined knowledge that is quite literally at your fingertips. Immerse yourself in your novel, but also in this uniquely supportive environment.

Sneaky Ninja question! Do you tend to remember any of your dreams?
Such an interesting question given that the idea for my current novel started as a dream. I had the same dream several times over the course of a year or two until I finally cried Uncle! and wrote it down. Then I sat on it for another year until the rest came to me late last year.

danielaOne of the sidebar questions on the Nano site asks what type of music you as a writer will be listening to while writing. I put that it depends on my mood, so here is an example of a typical day of music for me:
ACDC-Back in Black anyone?
Queen- so many good songs…Bicycle. Bicycle!
Etta James- At Last = soulful goodness.
Daughtry- I love the grit of Chris’ voice.
Depeche Mode- Saw every one of their concerts in the 80’s and early 90’s. Trailblazer for social commentary in music.
Survivor- Eye of the Tiger! Gets me pumped to write some good stuff.
Heart- Barracuda- Woman power to the nth degree.
U2- The most altruistic rockband of all time. And the music isn’t bad either.
INXS- His voice is irreplaceable. So sad that he took his own life.
and the list goes on…

You can see my taste varies. Music inspires me, incites me, and turns me on. It brings me joy and makes me sad. All of which I can funnel into the story that I am currently writing. I considered putting some lyrics from the most influential songs into my book. You’ll have to see if they make the cut.

Editor’s Note: Dani’s list of music was actually much longer, but I had to cut it down for this interview. Maybe she’ll put the whole list up on her blog for you guys! Once again, that’s

Nanowrimo Spotlight: M.L. Millard

October 24, 2014

Good evening, friends and followers! After that slightly weird glitch with my What’s up Wednesday post coming out a day late yesterday, it’s high time to get back to the Nanowrimo spotlight posts with Marie, who can be found on the Nanowrimo site as bitterwarrior and blogs at . Here’s what Marie has to say about her history with Nanowrimo:

This is my third nano. My most memorable moment from the first year was when I read what I’d written (I made it to 25,000 words) and realized that it was just as good as the book I’d been working on for over a year. Nano is addictive.

What are you writing this year?
This year I’m writing a Cinderella comedy in which “Cinderella” (called Littlefoot in my story) doesn’t want to go to the ball, but her kind stepsisters want her to. I wrote a short story version a few months ago and fell in love with the characters.

What is your favorite book?
I don’t think we can ever replace our first favorite. Mine was Watership Down.

What advice would you give to fellow Wrimos?
1. Outline 2. Don’t worry if you veer from your outline 3. Don’t quit if you get behind. I’ve only made it to 25,000 each time, but that’s still pretty good! I’m glad I didn’t quit when I started falling behind.

Are you organized or messy?

anaheim amazonAfter nanowrimo, if you still love writing, I highly suggest getting into a critique group. I belong to my local branch of the California Writers Club, and I have learned so much from their seminars and my little weekly critique group. They gave me the confidence to publish last year’s nanowrimo book even though it’s only 114 pages. Who cares? It’s a great story! I imagined what would happen if the storytelling contest from The Canterbury Tales happened with high school seniors on a bus to Disneyland. If you want to know more about my book or talk writing with me, please visit my blog,
Happy Writing!

Thanks, Jess. Good luck beating 25k this year!

What’s Up Wednesday? Revenge of the Angry Birds

October 23, 2014

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blogfest to share the answers to a few simple questions… Join us! Of course, I try to post on Wednesdays, but apparently I was so busy with other things that I forgot to finish the draft yesterday, or sign up to the linky list. *Headsmack*

What I’m WUWMaple65%2reading:
I finished Xanth ‘Board Stiff’, and the four stories I hadn’t already read out of Larry Niven’s “Neutron Star” collection. (The four I’d already found were the ones featuring Beowulf Shaeffer.) After floundering for something new to read, I tracked down my paperback copy of Jim Butcher’s “Furies of Calderon”, and I’m loving it so far!

What I’m writing:
I finished my quick revision of “Return to Civilization” and sent it off to critters for some feedback. Still plot bunny ranching for Nanowrimo–the “Sufficiently Advanced Magic” class has gotten into structure now, and somewhat to my surprise both books I’m working on fit pretty well into a three-act outline as far as I can see.

What works for me:
Working on the bus means even when the bridge is up, that’s just more time to work on your outlining homework! ;)

What else I’ve been up to:
Well, struggling to keep Angry Birds games from taking over too much of my free time. First, I got sucked into “Angry Birds Transformers” on my iPhone, which is this crazy side-shooter. Your bird-Autobot (or pig-Decepticon) gets dropped into the level by a shuttle that turns into a train car, and you have to shoot down pigs and automated guns  before they wear your armor away, shoot at high-tech buildings to get Energon cubes (which immediately turns the buildings rustic,) and use your limited time in vehicle mode to avoid toppling statues. There are rockets that turn you into a helpless bouncing washing machine if they hit you for some reason. ;)

And Angry Birds Epic just launched a new crossover invasion tournament with another game, so I’ve been sending my bird paladins, druids, and wizards up against dragons and cartoon blobs. Let’s see, what about non-gaming activities? Got started watching Leverage, on the suggestion of some TNEO friends who thought it could help me with ‘Never Found’, loving it so far. And getting ready for Nano! The Hamilton Kickoff party is this weekend, and so Elizabeth Twist and I spent a few hours on Sunday collating hipster PDAs and stuffing gift bags.

What about you? Click here to join the hop or check in with some other great writers.

Nanowrimo Spotlight: Christina Ochs

October 21, 2014

Good evening! It’s spotlight time again, and tonight the spotlight falls on Christina, who is christnick over on the Nanowrimo site, and blogs at The Rolling Writer. Here’s Christina introducing her history with Nano:

This will be my third official Nano and my fourth Nano experience, since I participated in camp in July.

I’d heard about Nano for years, and always had a few friends participate, but I never felt like I had anything ready to work on. In 2012, I got an idea for a romance novel, which was very strange, because that’s probably the one genre I never read. I managed 50k, and had a pretty good time doing it, but realized it was not the right book for me.

I was better prepared in 2013 and did some planning for a series I’ve been thinking about writing for at least a decade. I reached 53k words, but realized it would need a lot more work. I spent the next few months completely revising the plot and fleshing out the characters and started writing again in the spring. In July, I made a big push and wrote 90K words. Still not done!

At this point, I have about 50K words in new scenes to write, so I hope I can finish this third draft in November. If I finish early, I’ll just get started on the next book in the series.

I’m a big fan of #NaNoWordSprints on Twitter, and my fondest memories are of sprinting just about every day with my fellow writers. There’s an incredible sense of community and everyone is so encouraging. It’s especially great toward the end of the month as participants start hitting their goals. There’s a little celebration every few minutes.

What are you writing about this year?
I’m completing the third draft of my NaNoWriMo 2013 novel. It’s a fantasy retelling of the 30 Years War (1618-48) and is the first book in a series of four or five. There’s a chance I’ll get to the end of the draft before the end of the month, in which case I’m ready to start on a first draft of the second book.

What is your favorite book – you have to pick just one!
That is so unfair! I have so many favorite books. Read the rest of this entry »

Nanowrimo Spotlight: P.D. Kirby

October 20, 2014

Well, we’ve still got almost two weeks until Nanowrimo, but I’ve been getting lots of people interested in doing spotlights, yay! Tonight, it’s Paul’s turn. You can find Paul at or on the Nano site as airborneporcine. Here’s Paul explaining the technicalities of his Nano history:
I pdkirbyconsider this year my first NaNoWriMo, although technically it’s my second. I attempted to complete NaNo back when I was seventeen, but I never got more than 1,000 words off the ground due to school and the like. No excuse based on the people I’ve been meeting, but it makes me feel better to say I didn’t even get the chance to start back then!

I decided to take part again because I have always had stories trying to get out, but other things in my life have taken the spotlight instead. This year, I got back into live role-playing in a few online games, and realized how much I missed being able to invent my own worlds, and really pour my emotions out on paper. I work as a software developer as my day job, so writing is also a very nice counterpoint to my normal, logical days.

What are you writing about this year?
I’m writing a psychological science-fiction novel this year, dealing with the topic of identity. It asks the question: “Why are we often defined more by our outward appearances or by our actions?” In one sentence, this will be a novel about a thrill-seeking young woman who finds herself transplanted into someone else’s body and, with help from a troubled psychiatrist, leaves her world as she knows it to search for her true identity. My working title is “Upprisa Awakening”.

What is your favourite book?
Daniel Keyes’ “Flowers for Algernon” (the novel, not the short story) has been my favourite book since I first read it in high school. I think the way Keyes used grammar and style to show the transformation of the main character was brilliant, and the conflict between intelligence and emotion really hit home for me, especially in the final scenes. Highly recommended if you like stories that make you think!

What advice would you give to all your fellow Wrimos?
Commit to the 50k. Tell everyone you know you’re doing it. Blog about the experience as I am. Put in enough time before November so that when you hit that slump and want to give up, you can tell yourself “You can’t just give up all that work you’ve done/disappoint all those people!” Guilt is a powerful motivator!

What catchphrase do you say often in conversation?
Being Canadian, I have to admit that I use phrases ending in “eh?” very, very frequently. It just sounds so much better than “huh?”.

Thanks for reading everyone! I’m hoping those of you who are fans of books that make you think will keep a close eye on my NaNo novel, “Upprisa Awakening” (working title). Oh, and if you have any sci-fi book suggestions or want a beta reader, I’d be happy to help! Contact me on twitter (@pd_kirby) or on my website ( and we’ll work something out, plus you can follow my progress and see some of my other writing!

Weekend Writing Warriors – Crossed Wires 4

October 19, 2014

Welcome friends, followers, and Weekend Writing Warriors!

Still sharing snippets of the new stories I wrote this summer. This was also inspired by one of my A-Z challenge ideas: Neural Rewiring. Nathan is the leader of a stunt aerobatics flying team, and the team is practicing.


Snippet 1 Snippet 2 Snippet 3

It took him half a minute to get the shudders under control before he climbed out of his bird.

They were all waiting for him when he got down to the tarmac. “We can’t go on like this, Nathan.” Karen said.

“You want to change the routine?” he offered weakly. His routines were the pride and joy of his life, but even that would be easier than…”

“Hell no,” Seth muttered darkly. “The routine’s amazing, buddy. We just need to find another pilot who can fly them.”

Visit the other Weekend Writing Warriors at

Nanowrimo Spotlight: Dane O’Leary

October 18, 2014

Hey everybody. Excited about Nanowrimo yet? ;) Tonight’s interview should help. Dane blogs at Exercises in Tenacity, (soon to be moving to and can be found on the Nano site as dangeroleary. Here’s Dane talking about his Nanowrimo experience:

I participated for the first time in 2011. I also participated in 2012, but didn’t finish. I was too busy to participate last year, but I do plan to write again this year.

I’ve been working on my first, and primary, novel for the past five years, and it became my 2011 NaNo novel. I have excerpts from that piece posted around the web, and it has been met with such positive responses and acclaim. It has been so flattering and encouraging for total strangers to track me down and contact me to ask me to please finish my book because they love what they have read.

I met the goal of 50k words but did not finish my book. I then hit a wall in the writing process and couldn’t seem to finish, so I tried to write it from the beginning again. And I didn’t get very far. This happened a couple more times, starting over and not being able to finish.

Some of my fondest NaNo memories mostly involve spending hours in coffee shops writing, feeling super excited and proud of certain scenes, and the feeling of accomplishment when I hit the 50k goal.

What are you writing about this year?
So this year I’m going back to my original manuscript, the one on which I made so much progress, and I’m going to continue it. Instead of starting my word count at 50k+, I’ll count the words I add to my manuscript with the goal of adding 50k words by the end of November.

What is your favorite book – you have to pick just one!
Read the rest of this entry »

Nanowrimo Spotlight: Imaginary World

October 17, 2014

Good evening!curled_dragon I’ve got another interview for you: Jess is Imaginary World over on the Nanowrimo site and blogs at princessofdragons. Here’s the history of Imaginary World and Nanowrimo:

I first found out from NaNo from a friend. There’s quite a few of us in my circle of friends who are writers, so when November came around, she mentioned that she was going to be doing this writing challenge, and I thought that sounded interesting, so I signed up as well. Never regretted it either.

That was my second year of year uni, so I had a lot of time to work on writing, which is probably the only reason I managed to finished that year, with 51K. Somehow, I’m not entirely sure how, but I have managed to win every year that I took part in. Mainly I think it’s because I love charts, and goals, and I’m quite competitive, so if I don’t feel like I’m winning I’ll push myself until I’m back on track. The first two were around the 50K mark, but last year, I managed to hit some sort of writing groove and came out with 83K. I’m going to try and equal that this year.

I think my favourite memory comes from last year, when I hit that groove for the first time. I was just sitting there at my desk, writing away. I’d done about two two-hour sessions. I then sat back for a tiny break, and counted my words to go and update my word count, and was astounded to see I had hit 5K. I’d never done that before. I was so happy, I went on to do another 2K that day, and that started a trend.

I also enjoy the small writing group that me and my friends have set up. We usually get a couple of sessions in November, for obvious reasons. It’s called typing and tea, and we sit there, have some word sprints, and then drink vast amounts of tea. It’s great! Also productive.

What are you writing this year?
As usual, fantasy, but this year I think my book would count as a gaslamp fantasy. Well, it’s steam punk at any rate. Called Mechanica Awakening, it follows Rose, a girl with the rare ability to awaken the spirits of machines and objects. Called to the city because of her father’s work, they are right in the heart of the turmoil as the country teters on the edge of a civil war. And when Rose chooses to use her ability to defend the city and her friends, the word gets out and she struggles to keep her life, friendships and free will intact as people from all sides try to get her to join them, willingly or not.
I’m hoping to go beyond 50K. My target is 75K, but I was also accept a completed first draft (which is probably more than 75K to be honest)

What is your favourite book – you have to pick just one!
All right then, one book. Read the rest of this entry »

Nanowrimo Spotlight: Mike Coville

October 16, 2014

Do you want another wrimo spotlight? I hope so, because I’ve got one for you. Let’s get to know Mike. You can find Mike at his author website, or on the Nano site. When I asked about his Nanowrimo experience so far, Mike said:

“I’m a NaNoWriMo 2013 winner, and this year is my second year. I discovered NaNoWriMo after my daughter participating in 2012. I was inspired by her to get back into writing and we participating in NaNo2013 together, and that would be my best memory from last year.”

What are you writing about this year?
I am currently working on a Medieval time period fantasy story with all magic is actually human evolution… mutants.

What is your favorite book – you have to pick just one!
The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews. That book had a real impact in my life.

What advice would you give to all your fellow Wrimos?
Don’t try to write a book, just tell your story. A lot of time new authors worry with making a finished book while writing their first draft, and that will kill your momentum quickly. If you focus on telling your story during NaNo the word count will go by like mile markers on a highway.

Sneaky Ninja question! Who would you go to if you desperately needed help?
This question is really situational. Most of the times that I desperately need help I have been blessed with a very supportive family and Church family that is always available for whatever I need. So depending on the situation I have many different people I would turn to.

I had always thought of writing as a solitary hobby filled with introverts that shunned personal contact with others. NaNoWriMo really changed that image for me and that suites my personally better. I like to help people and see others succeed. During NaNo 2013 I met writers from Australia, Algeria, UK, Canada, and most of the 50 states. I’ve seen some of those writers publish their stories and have felt like a part of their team.

helpupubMy enjoyment with helping others is one of the reasons I launched as a way to help authors find talented service providers to help them turn their manuscripts into books. Helpupub is a directory of service providers. It’s free to be listed, free to browse, free to connect. There are never any fees to use.

I also wanted to help people get the most out of NaNoWriMo, so I wrote a book called “How To Write 50,000 Words In 30 Days, and survive to tell your story!”  I walk writers through what to expect during NaNoWriMo and how to prepare to overcome the challenge.

I’m looking forward to NaNoWriMo 2014 and seeing what new challenges I get to overcome this time around.

What’s Up Wednesday? The NanoLaunch!

October 15, 2014

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blogfest to share the answers to a few simple questions… Join us!

What I’m WUWMaple65%2reading:
I’ve nearly finished the latest Xanth, ‘Board Stiff’ from the library’s ebooks department. It’s been a fun romp so far, especially since Com-Pewter finally joined the quest as one of the good guys, wandering around in an android body. I’ve also caught up on a few Toasted Cake and PodCastle episodes, and started reading a Doctor Who graphic novel I picked up years ago at a convention.

What I’m writing:
Well, I started the rewrite for “Return to Civilization” at the Sunday write-in, and I’ve been worldbuilding and character sketching for crazy on my two Nanowrimo plot bunnies (plot bunny ranching?) With big props to the Storywonk “Sufficiently Advanced Magic” class, which has been a very fun way to get ready.

What works for me:
Umm… I’m not quite sure this week, it’s been sortuv time for kissing frogs, as it were. I actually got a bunch of character sketching done in front of the TV last night, which doesn’t always work. Some of the time, I was catching up on “Castle” and “The Big Bang Theory”, but at other points I’d turned the TV to music or just off while I worked on chasing down a particular thought. And that’s kinda cool, that I can make the writing the priority and not the television. :)

What else I’ve been up to:
Well, I got up to see the family for Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday, which was great. Played in the Angry Birds Epic “For the Pirate King” invasion event, made it into the 3rd place spot of whatever and scored some decent prize points. And the Nanowrimo site has relaunched, so I’ve been busy exploring the new forums and organizing spotlight interviews.

And speaking of what I’ve been reading, I updated my reading lists for the year over at Stringing Words, and it looks like I’ve read 336 short stories and 62 novels already this year!

What about you? Click here to join the hop or check in with some other great writers.


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