I survived.

So, I had the brilliant idea to do  National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) once again last month.

And, I won!

I’d dance like Meryl, but I’m so damn tired. My brain melted into a pile of goo the second I’d typed out The End. December will hopefully be a quieter month, even though I have two novels to edit.  Editing is slightly easier than writing, but I still I loathe it.

My NaNoWriMo novel, One Last Heist, turned out brilliantly. It had all the twists and turns I’d hoped for, and some I never expected. It’s now in the hands of my capable betas, and I won’t worry about it for a little while.

My relationships with friends and family appear to have survived the madness. I did have to bribe my dog with many treats to forgive me for being chained to my desk. =) NaNo can be a trying adventure with words.

This year the words flowed far better than they have any other year. I’ve participated in the November madness several times. Each one feels a bit different. One Last Heist definitely had my muse’s full attention, and I didn’t necessarily struggle with my daily goals with the exception of one day early in the month.

I can’t wait to share Mack & Toshiro’s story with everyone next year.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned through NaNo is I can’ only manage it once a year. I’m never going to be an 8k word a day author.  I barely manage 800 to 1000 words on an average day. It’s more about keeping myself steadily making progress.

But once a year in November, I indulge in a bit of insanity, and some of my best work has come from it. (After the Scrum, The Caretaker, and now One Last Heist.)

And now, I can take a nap…several naps.

Did you take part in the NaNo madness? How did you do?

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Oh, A Squirrel.

Or, the biggest distractions to my writing–and how I attempt to combat them.

Note I said attempt. I’m not always successful. Okay. Fine. I admit that I’m rarely if ever successful, but maybe you can learn from my mistakes.

My biggest distractions are…

1. My Dog – I mean. Could you deny this face?

How do I combat it? I don’t. Look at her face?

2. The internet.

You could combat it by turning off the computer. Do I? No lol. The best way I’ve found to avoid internet distractions is to get away from my computer and write by hand for a while.

3. Hot men on the internet.

I suppose technically this is part of #2, but I thought it deserved its own point.

4. Video Games.

I LOVE video games. LOVE. I’ve owned just about every type of gaming console from an Atari to an Xbox. The easiest way I combat the distraction is to use them as a reward–if I reach my writing goal for the day, I can play the game.

5. My husband.

This is actually not a distraction but an interruption. My beloved husband LOVES to stand in the doorway to my office to chat with me. He talks…and talks…and talks.  I love him, but sometimes:

What are your distractions and how do you combat them?

A Prayer for the Lost.

Or, as I like to call it, National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo) fever strikes again.

I’ve taken part in NaNoWriMo for several years. The insane task of writing a 50k novel in 30 days calls to me like a siren. I’ve won it all but one of the times I’ve taken part. You definitely run the risk of completely losing your mind when you try it.

I’ll also admit that not every author works well under the pressure of it.  I certainly couldn’t do it every month–once a year is more than enough. All my other novels have taken anywhere from two to six months to write.

So, in honour of the impending doom, here’s a prayer for the battered muses of all who suffer through November madness.

Dear Goddess of NaNoWriMo,

May you keep our pens moving, our coffee cups full, and our ideas flowing.

Keep our foreheads safe from hard surfaces.

Allow our commas to wind up in the correct places.

May they’re, their, and there cease to torment us.

May our loved ones not give up on us.

Help our word counts to grow.

And when the clock strikes midnight on November 30th–let our novels have hit at least 50,000 words.

Ever yours,

Your thankful and fearful novelist. 

Are you taking part in NaNo this year? Have you plotted out your ideas or are you pantsing it? I’m going for a mix of pantsing and plotting. I wish you all luck.

 

*I may have played a little too much Assassin’s Creed: Origins this weekend and gotten a bit caught up in the prayers to Egyptian Gods and Goddesses. lol

The Wonder Twins.

Or, ten things about Alice and Alex, two of my favourite secondary characters in The Sin Bin. They appear first in The Royal Marine and feature more in The Unexpected Santa and The Lion Tamer. I thought I’d share a little bit about them.

  1. They are both autistic.
  2. Alice is obsessed with origami.
  3. Alex rebuilds motorcycle engines–with a bit of help.
  4. They eat the same thing every Thursday–beans on buttered toast. Every. Thursday.
  5. Alice cuts Alex’s hair. She’s done it since they were ten because he hates having people touch his hair.
  6. They drink warm, but never hot tea.
  7. Alex can’t watch scary movies. Alice loves them.
  8. Alice loves language–the way words sound. She often repeats phrases.
  9. They like eating out at restaurants, just the two of them but outside of the busiest times.
  10. They obsessively watch TV.

 

 

Sloppy Seconds.

Or, why I love secondary characters. lol

If nothing else in my stories stands out, I hope what does is the depth and diversity of personalities. The goal is always to make readers want to know more about the characters—and not only the main couple. The word is so rich and diverse so should the books we write.

I write a quirky collection of characters.

Love writing them.

Love reading them.

L.O.V.E. Them.

One reason why I often include bits and pieces of personalities of people that I’ve met or observed is it adds authenticity. Maybe it’s because I’m autistic, but I’m always drawn to the odd ones. I enjoy building those types of people into my stories.

One of my favourite examples of brilliant secondary characters comes from The Botanist and The Royal Marine. Both are stories where I introduce a group of retired military men and women into The Sin Bin series. They’re an interesting bunch who never shies away from making their presence felt.

For example:

“That explains why I found him underneath his desk snoring like a busted engine and cuddled up to an empty bottle.” Lily propped her feet up on his desk. “I thought you two stopped overindulging after that time in London when you were in your twenties.”

“Lils.” Hamish had tried to block out the memory of getting so wasted that their clothes, wallets, and even socks had been nicked off them. Lily had rescued both of them before their commanding officer had found out. “What happened to being sworn to secrecy? Hadn’t we decided to chalk that up to youthful enthusiasm and stupidity?”

“Stupidity being the keyword. Okay, okay.” She sipped her coffee; her green eyes alight with pure amusement. “So, Earp tells me you met someone last night.”

Some of my other favourite characters are Francis’ grandmother, in After the Scrum. She’s a riot. Her personality shone through from the very beginning.

Dr. Gen who makes her first appearance in The Wanderer is another example. She initially started out as someone who I only intended to be in a few chapters, but her personality brought her to the forefront in The Caretaker.

Genevieve turned her gaze away from Taine and smirked at Freddie. “You’ll thank me later when you’re thinking more clearly.”

Freddie choked on his last bite of spring roll. “Yes, thanks. Twmffat.

“I heard that, Whittle,” she called over her shoulder. “You will thank me later—with a bottle of wine. You know the kind.”

The pets of The Sin Bin are definitely shining stars in their own right. From Speedy the hamster to Ganesh the cat to  Zeus the Yorkie. They bring humour and life, filling in gaps. In many ways, Aled’s plants are equally as important—at least to him.

“I keep telling you not to mock Ringo. You’ll hurt his feelings, and he’ll stop growing.” Aled brought in a tray with two unmatched mugs and a plate of chocolate treats. He set it down and pointed around the room at the various flora. “Mr Navy SEAL, you’ve already meet Ringo, Paul, John, and George. Have I not introduced you before?”

“And you called me bizarre?” Wyatt accepted the Frodo mug, resigning himself to the dubious pleasure of hot tea, and studiously ignored the tightening in his jeans at the brush of their fingertips. “Do you always name your plants?”

“Friends have names.”

For Aled, his plants are important enough that it seems wrong not to treat them as characters in their own right.

What do you love most about secondary characters in novels?

An Introduction to Akash Robinson.


(My visual inspiration for Akash is Raza Jaffrey)

In book four of The Sin Bin, The Royal Marine, which comes out in October, Akash Robinson gets his chance at love. He finds himself in the midst of an awkward love triangle. The baker has shown up a few times in the series thus far, but only as brief mentions.  This is the first real chance readers get to meet him.

I thought I’d give a brief introduction to him with a few random facts.

  1. He’s biracial (or mixed race, depending on what term you prefer). His mother is Indian, and his father is Caucasian.
  2. Akash is completely obsessed with cooking reality TV shows. His personal favourite is The Great British Bake Off.
  3. He always wanted to be a baker.
  4. Until recently, Akash lived at home with his parents.
  5. His hands and arms are covered by tiny scars from getting burned while baking.
  6. Ganesh is the cat that his sisters gave him. Akash has a love/hate relationship with his cat.
  7. Akash played cricket at school–badly. He doesn’t like talking about it. His dad loves to tease him about it.
  8. As a youngster, Akash learned self-defense and has picked up several martial arts.
  9. One of his greatest joys in life is creating spice combination that represents both of his heritages.
  10. Of the three Robinson siblings, Akash has the worst memory.
  11. He and his two sisters were all given Sanskrit names.
  12. Akash’s name means sky or open space. His mother wanted him to feel free to grow into a great man.

Anyway, so there’s a bit about Akash Robinson. The strong-willed, sassy baker who tries to run away with the heart of a certain retired Royal Marine.

Why I love the Start of the Botanist.

“There’s a boat.”

“Pretty sure it’s a yacht.”

“Nope. It’s a boat.”

“Why’s there a yacht-like boat in the combat zone?”

“Better question: Can we make it go boom?”

“Within the parameters of our war games with the Brits?”

“Does it matter?”

“Oi, Earp. Get your twats to shut the bloody hell up, will you? They’re clogging up our airwaves. Are they comedians or soldiers?” The dry humour in Hamish Ross’s voice echoed loudly in Wyatt’s ear where he’d been working valiantly to ignore the chatter from his team. “You listening?”

“We’re Navy SEALs, Hamster, not soldiers. We leave that grunt shit to you.” Wyatt couldn’t help needling his old friend and SAS counterpart. They’d worked together multiple times over the years, sharing secrets, wounds, and beers. “Hey, Ross, any clue why there’s a vessel in our designated dive area?”

“None.” Hamish spoke in muffled tones to someone, and a long silence stretched before he returned to Wyatt. “Shouldn’t be there, Earp. We’re picking up four warm bodies on the thermal camera. They’re not ours—or yours. Boat’s registered to a local rental company, the owner claims only one person should be on it. A botany student from Cardiff.”

“A botany student from Cardiff?” Wyatt glanced over at Trace, who looked almost as confused as he felt. “Why the fuck would a— You know what, never mind—what are we doing?”

 

The start of The Botanist is pure silliness. It’s a brief moment of indulging my absurd sense of humor before delving into darker and more serious subjects.  Of all The Sin Bin stories thus far, the one might be my favourite beginning.

Maybe.

For now lol.