Andi Winter

Writer, Reader, Tea Drinker, Chrononaut

Nanowrimo 2020 — Days 13-17

Day 13

Not getting as much time to write as I would like, so I had to settle for thirty minutes today. Still, I got nearly a thousand words in, so I’ll take it.

30″ 905

Day 14

Just got word at the day job that thanks to the Governor’s 2-week “Freeze” order, my work schedule is going to change. Rampant chaos and uncertainty. Might as well write.

20″ 600, 30″ 1032, 20″ 638 (70″ 2270)

Day 15

Still bumbling through this novel. I have to keep reminding myself to just keep sitting and keep writing. And when that fails, to write the next sentence, and let the characters think things through on the page.

40″ 1018, 20″ 522 (60″ 1540)

Day 16

In conversation with my short story writing partner, we talked about ‘writing as therapy’. I think there is something definitely to that, although I’m not sure what writing about talking cats, occult PIs, and Finnish pastries says about me.

Today’s writing was all about Genie and her ex-fiance, and it was surprisingly easy to write, but oh so painful with the ex upset about Genie lying to him, and Genie feeling a ton of guilt and shame. Conflict is a terrible and beautiful thing.

20″ 500, 30″ 1080, 30″ 1059, 10″ 400 (90″ 3039)

Day 17

Felt very stuck because I had no idea where the story was going (still don’t, for that matter), and Genie! The poor girl has her heart broken into a zillion little pieces, and is making no headway on her cases, so now what? Eventually, with the encouragement and support of my in-person Muse, I sat down and wrote, letting Genie think her way through her situation. Spoiler alert: she ends up at the public library!

15″ 89, 15″ 177, 20″ 20, 25″ 591, 10″ 250, 10″ 274 (95″ 1401)

TOTALS SO FAR: 1300″ (21.7 hours) & 23,297 words

Nanowrimo 2020 — Days 11-12

Day 11

My goal for today was 4000 words, and I hit it. It helps to have 3 (or 4?) story threads: the main case to solve, the ticking clock (pay the debt by Friday or consequences), and now police have called in our heroine on a new case. I just keep chugging away at it. Lots of cleaning up of earlier chapters, filling in description and details, then taking a run at moving the story forward. Conflict between characters is always good, especially when they are friends. Keep putting Butt in Chair, keep writing, keep telling myself that it can be awful and it doesn’t matter because no one has to ever see it. Keep amusing self.

30″ 327, 45″ 675, 20″ 154, 10″ 49, 10″ 132, 5″ 60, 25″ 146, 30″ 568, 30″ 753, 40″ 609, 40″ 729 (280″ 4202 words)

Day 12

One of the things I emphasize in my “How to Write a Novel in 30 Days” presentation is to back everything up. It doesn’t matter how—cloud, USB drive, emails to yourself, photographs, photocopies, handwritten copies. Just back it up to something that is reliable so in case SHTF, you will still have what you have written.

I live in Evernote. It backs up to a cloud. I thought I was safe.

I was wrong.

The good news is that I only lost a hundred-ish words (they weren’t the bestest words ever, but they were decent and I regret their loss). The bad news is that I lost a good chunk of my faith in Evernote, and I realized that perhaps I need to change how I do things.

Nevermind that this is the way I have been doing this writing thing for years.


So my blissful trust has been smudged and I now look over my proverbial backup shoulder constantly. Which sucks.

Managed to get an hour of writing in, even after dealing with Evernote issues, and more importantly got more words in the story. Exciting news: heroine under suspicion regarding the new police case. Doh!

10″ 31 (lost), 10″ 98 (lost), 40″ 1137

TOTALS SO FAR: 955″ & 14,142 words

Nanowrimo 2020 — Days 9-10

Day 9

I have no idea what I’m doing, but I just keep writing words. I keep cycling back through previous chapters and then forge ahead with new chapters. Not dizzy at all. Ha.

60″ 411

50″ 1406

15″ 326

Day 10

Ugh. I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing and that this is pointless. I should be writing adventure/romance, not ‘mystery’ which I don’t feel in my bones. Maybe this would be easier if the story wasn’t about a cold case. Maybe. Is writing this novel stretching me? Oh, hell yes. Is it fun? Not really, although I love the talking cat [spoiler]. Does it have to be publishable? No. Does it have to be done so I can move on and get over my ‘mystery genre’ writing hang-ups? YES.

Maybe if I think about it like some of the urban fantasy novels I love that have at the heart of them a mystery, wrapped with strong strands of romance and friendships—then maybe I can make this work. Maybe.

40″ 449

10″ 127

5″ 44

40″ 1038

TOTALS SO FAR: 615″ & 8674 words

Nanowrimo 2020 — Days 6-8

Day 6

Not many words or time today because I was focused on other writerly things (updating the blog, revising the newsletter). Planned to get an hour of writing in; I was lucky to get twenty minutes.

20″ 592

Day 7

My goal on weekdays is to get an hour of writing in, and I nailed that today, even if I only got 500 words. Ideally one hour would net me 1000 words, but hey, I’ll take what I can get. Still cleaning up the first chapters.

30″ 81

35″ 422

Day 8

Feeling very uncertain about this detective fiction thing. Regency fantasy romance? Sure! Time travel to WWII London? Absolutely! Space opera in an intergalactic coffee shop? No problem!

But a mystery? Egads.

So of course I had to go learn about mysteries and detective fiction because MORE RESEARCH IS ALWAYS GOOD (um, not really). I did learn some things which should be useful, so that’s a win.

180″ 2411

TOTALS SO FAR: 395″ & 4893 words

Nanowrimo 2020 — Days 4-5

Day 4

Holy hell. I don’t know if it’s post-election exhaustion or, more likely, my Perfectionism coming to the fore, but man, I put off writing all damn day. Thankfully, I had an hour that I was forced to sit away from a computer and do nothing, so I wrote longhand, or tried to write, and everything in my head was a constant battering of self-doubt:

“Do I start here?”

“Do I open with setting? What is the setting? What is the mood? What is going on here?”

“Maybe I need a writing prompt. But not that writing prompt. Okay, geez, I thought that writing prompt would work and now I don’t know what to do with it.”

“Do I scrap everything I wrote back in August and start over? Or do I try to make it work?”

“OMG, I suck and I cannot follow my own writing advice. How the hell can I teach people how to write when I hit Nanowrimo and I am a freaking mess?”

And then just as I start trying to actually write, the Evil Critic in the back of my head pops up to offer his charming insights:

“Wow, you really don’t know what you’re doing. You are such a hack. When you wrote other stories in this world, you had fun and now you’re struggling, so the earlier writing must have been inspired and you used it all up because now you’ve got nothing. Wow, this is terrible writing. Maybe you should go study some more because you clearly have no idea how to write detective fiction, so you are going to fail miserably. After all this time, all you’ve managed is 200 words? Such a loser…”

So, yeah. Despite the mental distractions, I managed to write one page of the novel today, which feels like a monumental victory.

As Scarlett O’Hara said, tomorrow is another day. Hopefully this was just the initial stuttering, like trying to start a car that’s been parked in a garage for years. Just needs a little bit of a jump to get going.

TOTALS SO FAR: 25″ & 298 words

Day 5

Now that I got that out of my system, time to get to work.

The good news: yesterday’s words weren’t as bad as I thought. Not great, but not awful. So that’s a win.

Spent today going over what I wrote yesterday and then fitting that in with what I wrote back in August. Lots of smoothing things down and filling things out and trying to keep it all consistent.

The writing still feels awkward, but I’m making some progress. I’ll take it.

20″ 137 words
40″ 264 words
45″ 688 words
[for the day 105″ 1089 words]

TOTALS SO FAR: 130″ & 1387 words

Nanowrimo 2020 — Day 3

Still getting warmed up here. I spent an hour reading the last of the three short stories in the Genie Colt* world (it was the longest at 7,200 words, with the other two running around 2,000 each) and taking notes for the ‘story bible’.

Holy hell. I have an entire world already created.

I’ve got an opinionated main character (don’t get her started on fake plants, bad coffee, or McMansions) in a city with wizards, old Norse gods, and mer-people, and a seedy supernatural underbelly that has its own infrastructure that includes bureaucracy, crime scene cleaners, and a motley assortment of residents (daughter of a garbage truck driver and a fairy? Check!). And did I mention the wizard ex-fiance that has our heroine annoyed and intrigued?

Okay, so I’m starting to get really excited, and a little nervous. This thing could be, in the parlance of my childhood, AWESOME.

But no pressure.

Now to review the story idea I had back in August, and see how I can use that.

<twiddles thumbs breathlessly>


*Genie (Genevieve) Colt, occult PI. Set in Astoria, Oregon.

Nanowrimo 2020 — Days 1-2

Day 1

National Novel Writing Month officially started November 1, which I spent doing everything but Nanowrimo in an effort to tie up other writing loose ends before embarking on the new novel. I finished up four flash fiction stories, worked on the cover to my upcoming “Seven Territories” print collection, and sent out my newsletter.

I’m not panickingyetbecause I’ve had Nanowrimo years where I didn’t start writing until Day 3.

Day 2

Back in August, I started writing a “revenge noir” story as part of my “Write a Story a Week” pandemic challenge. The story had all the proper attitude of a noir story (lots of attitude) and took off with magic, supernaturals, and an occult PI in Astoria, Oregon. I was having a ball writing it, and then realized that what I was writing was not a short story, but had all the makings of a novel.


So I wrote a different story and shelved the occult PI noir story, promising myself I would give it the space and time it needed.

Oh, look! Nanowrimo to the rescue.

I’ve already written three stories in this funky urban fantasy-noir world, so I spent today reading through those stories and making notes in a ‘story bible’ that I can use as I make my way through the novel. No need to come up with new backstory/world building (or spend time trying to remember what I had come up with) when I already have some of that worked out.

At this point, I may be slightly cheating by having started the novel already (that said, it’s only 2,200 words), but I’ll still be writing 50,000 over the course of the month. And I might end up rewriting the beginning anyway.

The real challenge for me is writing a mystery novel, which has me a little on edge. I’ve written two mystery stories so far, but nothing long form, so we shall see how this goes.

“How to Write a Novel in 30 Days” talk tomorrow!

With National Novel Writing Month coming up in November, I’ll be giving a presentation on how to write a novel in 30 days tomorrow (Wednesday, October 21).

I’m not sure how I forgot to mention this because I am so excited to share what I’ve learned over… EIGHTEEN years. I had to go back through my notes and found my first Nanowrimo attempt back in 2002, and it was a win in that it got me started writing my first novel. I tried again in 2003 and 2004, but I couldn’t finish those novels (perhaps I was too ambitious trying to write a Tale of Genji set on a Wyoming ranch).

Then I got my first win with a contemporary fantasy in 2005, and followed that with a science fiction version of The Odyssey in 2006. From those experiences, I learned the power of structure (i.e. using a classic for the story basis) and the power of car chases and blowing things up for adding to word counts.

Having struggled with completing a novel (let alone writing one in 30 days) for so long, I wanted to share what I’ve learned to help fellow writers. If I can help them get right to writing (and finishing!) a novel, then what I went through was totally worth it.

So am I a fan of Nanowrimo? Absolutely! I know there are some writers who think Nanowrimo is terrible for essentially encouraging people to write crap (write fast! write furious! it’s just about the number of words!). But for me, Nanowrimo gave me permission and encouragement to pursue my dream of writing, and I believe that anything that inspires you to be creative, to overcome your insecurities to try something new and challenging, is a Good Thing.

I will be blogging my Nanowrimo journey this year. You can follow me here and on Nanowrimo’s site (@andipedia). To 50,000 and beyond!

Today’s haiku

man wearing respirator

Photo credit: Pixabay/Ri_Ya

with respirator
I feel like an alien
when working outside

-had to get some yardwork done in the midst of wildfire smoke

“Hexes and Dust” now available

At long last, the next story in the Weird West “Seven Territories” series is out and available. Take that, pandemic and riots and wildfires!

In “Hexes and Dust,” a Union Army veteran returns home to seek revenge against the evil bastard who destroyed his life. Oh, and to stop the Evil Bastard from selling to the highest bidder Very Nasty magic drugs. And all of this happening at the saloon of the Sassy Woman who captured his heart.

It’s Ocean’s Eleven meets The Three Stooges in a magical Old West setting. With whiskey, fairies, and all manner of hexes.

If you like your fantasy served up in an alternate history glass with a splash of zombies and a dash of romance, check out “Hexes and Dust“.

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