July Nano Is Upon Us!


:cough cough:

Yeah, I should dust before bouncing…

Yes, it’s that time of the summer! Time for the July Nano! Gut off those story ideas. Clean up the Nano room! Gather the snacks. It’s nearly time to get busy with a whole bevy of new words!

For me, they will be first real new words I will have written since we learned of Mother Hen’s cancer. I’m really looking forward to it, and once she heard the July projects are mostly Salmon Run stories, Mother Hen is all for it, too!

So, starting July 1st, it’s off with the new words! Time to let the creative brain go and work off the tension. The revision I go back to in August will be the better for it. As Mother Hen loves this series, I view this also for her, so it’s all good.


Above is the link to the July Novel Writing Month event that is now 9 years old. No, I won’t be doing Camp Nano. I don’t like their website, setup, and lack of motivational features. I’m also a bit miffed they decided this year to squat on the month of July when this other event has been going on for years.

I love the statistics page, something that Nanowrimo lost years ago. It’s perfect for playing the Word-Jump game. A simple game, but highly motivational: Look at the wordcount of a few people above you. Write like crazy. Update. JUMP!

Oh yeah. Planning on having some fun here.

I hope to see you there!

Nano, Wordcounts, and Story Update

The August Nano is now done! Time to do an assessment:

  • Finished book 6 of The String Weavers: CHECK – This happened on August 6th.
  • Finished book 7 of The String Weavers: CHECK – This happened on midnight of August 30th with an entire day to spare! Wow!
  • Total Wordcount for August: 109,679

Yep, nailed it in August despite the allergy attacks and despite the smoke in the air from all the forest fires. It was a real struggle on a lot of days, but THEY BOOKS ARE DONE!

Sorry to yell there, but this is really exciting. With the last book of Nano, “The String Weavers” arc is done! :happysnoopydance:

Of course the down side of this is that I now have 5 first drafts to revise. Ah well, can’t have everything. Hehe.

Other good news is that the July and August Nano’s put me over my yearly goal for new words (see the graph in the right column). The goal for 2012 was 500,000 new words. At the end of August the tally was 545,369 words!

And yes, I’m still writing. I came out of August pumped and the Muse on a high no sugar-high can touch. So, I started writing short stories. One is finished and I’m working on one more. After that, it’s back to revision!

I will admit that it feels good to have the chance to do other stuff without feeling guilty about it. Two Nanos in a row was intense, especially one as successful as July (170,000 words), and they did succeed in helping me write 3 90k+ novels. But now? I’m sleeping in, going for walks, doing publishing stuff, and if I want to stop and do some research for a few hours or read a book, I can! Hah!

So, to everyone else, how did your July and August shape up?


Novelette science fictionJ.A. Marlow

Where the Purple Grass Grows

The last thing reporter Steve Gortney expects is pirates raiding the strange space-elevator on the backworld of Vorstogen. While he’s thrilled for the exclusive on a pirate raid-in-progress, he soon finds his own life in danger from a secret the pirates are willing to kill to keep hidden. Meanwhile, the space-elevator has a few secrets of its own…

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Shhh – We Be Hunting Words Here…

There is a reason I am so quiet right now, but it’s a really good reason.

I’m neck deep in “The String Weavers” series. The project of writing all the first drafts continue. The series is so complicated that I couldn’t release any other books in the series until ALL of the first drafts are written.

In January, book 3 was written. In February and March came book 4.

At the start of July, I made book 5 the focus of July Novel Writing Month, and managed to finish it in 14 days (winning at 50,000 words on day 7 as the first winner for the event). I’m really happy how the first draft came out, too.

Now I’m halfway through book 6, and so far this one is looking to be longer than the rest. I’ve said that about the last two, and those came out between 85-95k, so we’ll see how this one goes.

And the rest of the series? Well, it’s a 7 book series, so that leaves one more to go after this one. If all goes well it will be finished by the end of August. That’s the goal, anyway.

So, there you have it. It might sound like I’m quiet, but that’s only because you can’t hear the constant pecking at the keyboard!


J.A. Marlow

Shhh - We Be Hunting Words Here...

The String Weavers (The String Weavers – Book 1)

Kelsey Hale thinks she’s just a typical mixed-up teenager. Everyone feels that way, her teachers assure her. Yet, strange things happen to her, like food disappearing before she can eat it and hearing music no one else hears.

Then a giant flaming bird drops an alien at her feet. Well, good grief, how can you ignore something like that?

Abducted from Earth, the only planet she’s ever known, Kelsey finds herself thrust into the middle of a deadly conflict among alien worlds and parallel universe. She must not only survive herself, but also find a way to rescue her father from a dangerous group with unknown motives.

In the process, she’s confronted by a hidden secret about herself which will shake the very foundation of who and what she thought she was.

And connecting it all are the mysterious Weavers.

A 97,100 word, 389 page (approximate), science fiction novel.

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Deadlines: A Writer’s Best Friend

  • Good Cover
  • Good Title
  • Good Blurb/Description
  • Good Price
  • Good Sample

Hmm, isn’t it interesting that the first 4 things listed above, constantly cited as the absolutely bare necessities for a successful Indie ebook, are the things that an author going through traditional channels typically has NO control over at all?

Yeah, I know. Don’t go on that rant again.

I have a confession to make. So far the posts concerning this experiment has focused on the development of the Salmon Run series, specifically the first book. The posts concerning development aren’t even close to completion, and yet, I need to move on.


Because not only is the first draft of the first novella completed, the first THREE are completed. And they were completed in July of 2010.

So, let’s skip forward a bit to the actual writing process. (I’ll see about completing the other posts in the series later)

Getting great ideas, worldbuilding (or universe building), and planning are all fine and good, but if an author can’t finish the actual writing then they are only fun diversions. A lot of writers have trouble with the actual writing and finishing projects. There are a variety of reasons why this happens, but I want to talk about one technique for getting past all the hang-ups and excuses:

A deadline.

I had a self-imposed deadline for launching the first book of this series. I also knew that the last half of 2010 was going to be insane. And wow, was I right about that.

Which meant I needed to get the first draft finished as soon as possible so I could fit in the revision process where and when I could. Stress can have a huge impact on creativity, and I needed a good way to move past it. To get the words down. To finish that important first draft.

Which brings up one of the “National Novel Writing Month“-inspired groups. This one is in the month of July called “July Novel Writing Month” or JulNoWriMo for short. It is the same type of challenge: 50,000 words in 31 days.

I already had a deadline for the completed and revised manuscript, and JulNoWriMo gave me a good deadline for one step in that direction: the first draft.

So, during the month of June I plotted and planned like crazy. When July 1st came along I had the first three outlines ready to go. Along with hundreds of other writers I hit the keys and hit them hard.

Having the deadline helped me put other worries and concerns out of my head, allowing me to focus only on the words using the support and creative energy of everyone else working on the same challenge at the same time.

That is one of the great things about this type of challenge. You aren’t alone in writing like crazy. Others are doing it with you and at the same time as you.

The above paragraph is important for a lot of writer. Writing is an isolating activity. That isolation can become overwhelming at times. Doing something with a group can give a person the strength and focus to do things they might not otherwise be able to do.

With all that creative energy and informal support from so many other authors during that month, I knew I would win.

And I did.

At the seven day mark book 1 was finished. Book 2 finished ten days later. Before the month was out, book 3 was finished.

There is something exhilarating about reading “The End” of a first draft. While first drafts are not usually very pretty, at least the bare bones of the story are down. As long as there are words, there can be a revision to polish things up. There are no more blank pages. Words have conquered the white spaces.

Long live the words!

This illustrates something important for goal making and goal keeping. Having the final goal is all well and good, but it doesn’t do much good unless there are smaller goals along the way that help you get to the final goal. Having smaller goals along the way can help a person feel like they are making real headway, that they are succeeding. Writing a book can be a long process. Reaching a mid-point milestone can help keep an author from getting disheartened at the slow progress.

Deadlines and mini-deadlines can be a writer’s best friend. A way to motivate an author to take the smaller steps needed to finish a project and reach the ultimate goal.

First draft word counts:

Night of the Aurora (Book 1): 26560
Alien Winter (Book 2): 26399
The Singing Lakes (Book 3): 25533

“The E-Book Experiment” chronicles the business and creative side of an experiment with the business opportunities new technology and creative outlets now afford content producers. Will it fail? Will it succeed? The only way to know is to approach it with a solid plan and try. No regrets!

I hope the details of this journey will be a help to other authors. As the process proceeds to selling the final products I will also share hard data that might be useful in the decision making process of other authors who recognize that only they can take charge of their careers. For a listing of all the posts in this series, please click here.

If you find this information useful or interesting, please encourage others to come on by and visit.

Writing Challenge Success!

July Novel Writing Month” is over as of midnight last Saturday night. While the result is the lowest word count of any July or November writing month so far, it was far from a failure.

I went into it with 3 outlines. Saturday night, well before the deadline, I finished the first draft of the third novella. Here are the stats of each of the three:

26560 – Night of the Aurora
26374 – Alien Winter
25553 – The Singing Lakes

Talk about close to each other in word count. I’m not sure I could have done that on purpose if I had tried!

Congrats to everyone else who participated, no matter how many words you wrote. 1 word more is a victory. 🙂

More information on the books will come out as “The E-Book Experiment” posts continue. Which, will be later this week!