I’ve just passed my 10th anniversary. Oh, not of my marriage. 10 years ago this past June I broke my chalk and picked up a keyboard. Yep — I became a fulltime writer. And it’s amazing to me how things have changed in my life.

The first year it was me and the computer. Simple. I got up I figured out where my story was going and I wrote. Family members were my beta readers. They read. They critiqued. I adjusted. What a simple life of writing. And one that made me very happy.
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Hi everyone, and Nina, thank you for inviting me. My name is Charlene Roberts. I’m an Ellora’s Cave author, and soon to be Double Dragon author (this is an e-pub specializing in sci-fi, horror, fantasy, etc.)

My blog is about the National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo for short. I’m sure that some of you are wondering if you can do this, or if it’s worth spending time on. For writers who are not prolific, like me, the gain of 50,000 words is 50,000 more than if I wrote at my regular pace.

National Novel Writing Month

National Novel Writing Month – or NaNo, as it’s affectionately called – is the brainchild of Chris Baty, who works for the Offices of Letters and Light in California. His idea to get people of all ages writing has blossomed into a global extravaganza, where writers challenge themselves to complete a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.

Now you must be wondering; why on earth would anyone subject themselves to the agony of finding 50,000 words in 30 days? Well, I for one am a procrastinator. I have all these wonderful ideas of what to write, but when it comes to finishing, it can take me forever. Plus I’m a very slow writer—a double whammy.

With NaNo, I can decide on what project to work on, get an outline together, and make myself write 50,000 words.

For those who are considering the challenge of taking on NaNo, here are some tips that can help:

1. The most important thing to consider when tackling something of this size is to turn your internal editor off. That’s right, I’m serious. There’s no way (unless you’re extremely prolific) a person can write 50,000 words in 30 days unless you turn off that annoying little voice in your head that says “What are you writing? It’s terrible! Start over!” The whole idea of doing NaNo is to write as much as you can in one month. Don’t worry about what words you’re using, or the grammar – just get the words down on paper. You’re going to be editing it anyways. And you know as well as I do that it’s easier to edit a bunch of words than a blank sheet.

Oh and what I’ve learned when turning off the internal editor? You come up with some very interesting scenes you never would have thought of otherwise.

2. You need to plan. 50,000 words is a lot of work, so you need to know how you’re going to achieve that goal. It takes about 1,666 words per day to make the 50K mark – so how will you do this?

I found that for myself, a little bit here and there helped. I work full-time in front of a computer, and nowadays, I’m hard pressed to sit in front of my computer in the evenings. So I would write long hand instead, or use my Blackberry Torch to write.

If you do write in the evenings, you should plan to have “me time” – no interruptions from the family, no phone calls, and no distractions. The hour or two that you set aside for yourself HAS to be for you – I found that my family would find excuses to interrupt me! After putting my foot down though, they got the hint! LOL

3. Know what you are going to work on. It sounds simple I know, but I noticed that in the years I’ve done NaNo, passion for my new manuscript made a big difference in how many words I would produce. For example in 2008, I was working on an urban fantasy manuscript. I loved the story and the outline I had drawn up for it, and when NaNo started, I couldn’t write fast enough. I think I was at 53,000 words when NaNo was finished. I finished my manuscript (which was approx. 103,000 words), and finally sold it this year. Like I said, slow writer. 🙂

However, this year was a struggle. I liked my story, but I didn’t have the same passion for it as my urban fantasy, which is not normal for me. I did manage to reach 50K this year, however.

4. Know the best time for you to write. Some writers are early birds, while others are night owls. I’m definitely a night owl, and produce my best work then.

The best thing about NaNo is that it’s not a contest, or that you HAVE to have 50K at the end of the month. The best thing about is that you’re further ahead than if you didn’t join NaNo. And the support from Chris and his team members is contagious. They’ve set up NaNo so that Regional Volunteers can cheer their neighbourhood writers on to produce as much as they can. Some of them even have all-night writing parties! How’s that for inspiration?

And I personally love a challenge. You can even “friend” other people on the site and watch as you compete with each other on your word counts.

Anyhow, I hope that what I’ve learned about NaNo will make you think about taking on the challenge next year. And I’ll be there too in 2012, working on my next greatest masterpiece!

Charlene’s lastest release, A Gentlemen’s Savior is available from Ellora’s Cave.

When Stephanie’s art teacher issues a challenge—create a painting based only on the torso of a human sculpture—she decides to paint a Regency lord. But with his muscular body, longer hair and a few well-placed scars, Stephanie’s lord is definitely no Regency dandy. Her best work ever, the painting stirs an obsession Stephanie can’t explain. Not content to wait for the next class, she visits the art center, just to get a peek at her lord. She touches the painting…

And suddenly finds herself in a bedroom in 1817 London, her lord standing behind her—very real, very naked and very ready to end Stephanie’s sexual dry spell.

Before she can say “ton”, Stephanie’s indulging her desires with Gabriel, dressing in the height of Regency fashion and meeting the Prince Regent. But life in 1817 isn’t all tea and crumpets. Stephanie soon learns she’s reliving her past life—one that ended tragically. Thrust in the middle of a sinister plot, she must save the prince, save Gabriel…and if she’s luckier this time around, save herself.


On Friday, Stephanie decided to go straight to the community center after work. The thought of not seeing her Regency lord until Wednesday bugged the shit out of her. She needed a visual dose of his taut, muscular body to keep her fantasies running strong over the weekend.

At the center, Stephanie hurried inside, the silence in the building eerie. There was always something going on at the center, but since it was after hours, the hallways now stood empty. The classroom doors were all closed and the early evening twilight lengthened the shadows in the long, narrow corridor.

Stephanie walked quickly, her heels clicking with swift purpose. If she couldn’t find the janitor before he left for the weekend… She shook her head. It wasn’t the end of the world for Christ’s sake! It was only a painting, after all.

A movement ahead and to her right caught her attention.

“Excuse me?” Stephanie called out, seeing the familiar blue coveralls. “I was wondering if you could help me.”

The old gentleman stopped and turned to look at her. “What is it?”

It wouldn’t be easy getting him to unlock the door. She would need to come up with a good reason. “I’m one of Leila Rowe’s evening art students. I can’t find my paintbrushes and I think I may have left them in the storeroom.”

The janitor sighed, rolling his eyes heavenward. “Come on.” He led the way to the storeroom and pulled out a large ring of keys, taking his time selecting one. “You artsy folk can be a pain sometimes.”

“I beg your pardon? What are you talking about?” Stephanie demanded, standing aside as he swung the door open and flicked on the overhead light.

“I’m talking about your weird requests. In the fifteen years I’ve worked for the center, the Adults Arts Program is the strangest.”

“In what way?”

“I’ve seen my share of people just like you, coming in here at weird hours, asking for me to open the storeroom door so they can stare at their masterpieces.”

“What’s wrong with that?”

“They always forget to turn off the light and latch the door so it locks behind them, that’s what’s wrong! I can’t be standing here watching them ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over their paintings.” He made a limp gesture with one hand.

Stephanie managed to keep a straight face. “I’m only here to find what I want.”

“You’ll remember to turn off the light and lock the door behind you?”

“I promise.”

The old man nodded and walked off.

Stephanie walked in and shut the door behind her. Five easels stood in a row at the back of the storeroom, the paintings covered with sheets to protect them from prying eyes and careless fingers.

She moved forward, not knowing which one was hers, and yet she walked purposefully toward the last easel to her right, partially cast in shadow. Lifting the sheet, Stephanie gazed at her naked hero, feeling the rush of pride and slight embarrassment as she stared at his body.

His gaze almost seemed to beckon her to reach out and touch his warm skin, to kiss the full lips curved slightly upward with a mysterious smile, to grasp his cock in both hands and feel its silky skin glide over her fingers.

Stephanie let out a small gasp—she hadn’t realized she was holding her breath. Reaching out with one finger, she grazed her lord’s cheek ever so slightly…

Thanks so much for visiting Char. I can honestly say I’ve never been brave enough to commit to NaNo. I’m curious how many of my visitors have tried it. If not, why? And if you did, were you happy with the results?