Tag Archive for novel writing


When I signed up to write this blog post several months ago, it was at the Red Wheelbarrow Writer’s happy hour and—as I’d been indulging in happiness for well over an hour—I was, um… easily manipulated. And writing a blog post for a bunch of writers at some random future date seemed like a great idea. No problem.

As the deadline neared, however, the idea shriveled: what could I possibly contribute that could be of value to such an amazing group of writers, most of whom have been at this far longer than myself? I tried denying that I would have to do it: the project would be abandoned, no one would notice if I let it slip, the Internet might break, etc. Of course, Diane called me right on cue. Sigh.

But then it occurred to me that everyone likes gratitude, especially when it’s genuine and directed at them, and that would be my honest experience of the Red Wheelbarrow Writers – a great giant heaping serving of gratitude. I am perhaps on mile twenty of my novel-writing marathon, and I have high hopes of reaching the finish line entirely because of this great community. So here’s my thanks to you all:

Thanks for the start.

On October 31, 2011, Cami Ostman texted and challenged me to a Nanowrimo duel—odd, as we didn’t know each other well at the time, and I had never expressed any desire to write a novel. She must have had an intuition that I had a story lurking, or maybe that I am madly competitive, because I picked up the glove. Mostly from a desire to beat her daily word count, I began writing the first story that came into my head, and was surprised by the end of the first week to find a whole crowd of characters had woken up in my mind and were clamoring for freedom. I haven’t had much peace since.

Thanks for the community

As a professional creative, I’ve participated in any number of conferences and activities with other folks similarly inclined, and have always rolled my eyes at what can quickly devolve into—for lack of better words—a big ol’ pecker contest: who has been published, who is connected to which publisher or producer, who won the award, who is sleeping with the drummer. Ick. I prefer solitude. When I reluctantly joined in with my first RWW meeting, what I found in you all was instead a marvelous group of people, all in different parts of their writing journeys, but all wonderfully supportive of one another’s successes and challenges. Each time one of you has garnered an award or new contract, or even just finished the first draft of a difficult project, others in the group are genuinely thrilled as if it were their own success. What a delight to be welcomed into such a group.

Thanks for the stretch.

Just like a really good yoga stretch is often done with a little help from the teacher, and usually hurts, (but not too much) you all have helped me stretch, even when it might not have been comfortable. You’ve been brave enough to tell me I used the same phrase four times in one page, that my characters needed more fleshing out or that (thanks Laura) a whole four pages are a waste of narrative space. Critiquing another’s work honestly is a brave and generous act, and I so appreciate those of you who have been willing to make it hurt a little!

Thanks for the laughs

The group Nanowrimo novels. Enough said.

Thanks for the stories

When I head to Uisce on a Saturday, I no longer see a group of strangers, but feel as if I am entering a big top tent teeming with wild and colorful stories. Because of you all, I have experienced the Alaskan wilderness, the thrill of blue water sailing, the joy of running, and the delicate insights uncovered in a garden. I have bird-watched on remote islands, been a civil war soldier, an African diplomat, a displaced gringa, and a woman obsessed with Elvis. I will never again cook a king salmon without a profound understanding of its arrival on my plate. Thanks for becoming my friends.


AGabrielPhotobigAuthor Bio:

Andrea Gabriel has written and/or illustrated a number of picture books for children, and is currently lurching toward the finish of her first novel. She makes a living creating pictures and websites.

Road Map to Writing Your Book in 2013

Do you want to join our “Road Map to Writing Your Book in 2013” group? It’s free! And it’ll be fun.

Here’s what you’ll get:

Phone Conference Call to Help You Create Your Goals! The first thing you’ll need to do to move forward in your writing this year is to create reasonable, achievable goals. Cami will be offering a one-hour complementary workshop on how to create goals and identify benchmarks that contribute to success. All you have to do to participate is call into the bridge line on Wednesday, January 30 at 7pm (PST) to get help in creating your writing goals and the benchmarks along the way that will help you know you’re making progress. At the call-in time, just dial: (512) 400-4807, and the code is 8745197#. You may want to have the goals sheet handy that we passed out at the Writers’ Resolutions workshop. Here it is again. (There will be regular long-distance charges for the call.)

Connect with Each Ohter on the Google Group Created for You :You will be invited to a group discussion on Google. This is a place that only members can log into (so you have to get invited, don’t forget) to communicate with one another to talk about their struggles, ideas, strategies… whatever! Google is fabulous AND sometimes a little hard to get into. Here’s how:

  1. Log into your google/gmail account (if you don’t have one, sign up–it’s free
  2. Go to www.google.com.
  3. At the top of the screen you’ll see a black strip with several options.
  4. Click on “More.”
  5. Then click on “Even More”
  6. Now scroll down to “social” and you’ll see “groups.”
  7. Click on that.
  8. On the right side of your screen, you’ll see your group.
  9. OR–try this link once you’ve been added to the list: https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en&fromgroups=#!forum/rwb-novel-writers

Connect with Each Other on the Google Group Created for You: You’ll also be invited to this group, as well. You’ll find it the same way as you find the group, but at step 4, click “Drive” instead of “More.” You’ll see the document under “Shared with me” on the left side of your screen.

Come to RWB Happy Hours! 

We meet in the lobby of the Pickford Film Center the first Saturday of every month at 4pm. Bring something to read that you’re working on (no more than 5 mins) and some money to pitch in for drinks/snacks. This is a great way to celebrate the fact that we’re working writers!

One-Day Workshop on Revising Your Work: This is an option you won’t want to miss. You’ll get instruction from award winning novelist, Laura Kalpakian regarding what to look for in revising your work. Details will be forthcoming (date, time, location, cost), but we are shooting for May. Stay tuned.

June Check-In Meeting at Village Books: Also in the works is a free check in with everyone in the group in June at Village Books. We’ll keep you posted about date and time on this one as we get closer too.

December Celebration: Yes, we’ll be celebrating progress! And you should come no matter how far you’ve gotten or which of your benchmarks you hit on time. Details TBD.

Let’s get it done this year, writers! Email Cami with questions: clostman@live.com. And sign up below to get on the “Road Map to Writing Your Book in 2013.”


Halftime NaNoWriMO Observations

  NaNoWriMo: Halftime

  by Cami Ostman



When the idea to spearhead the round robin NaNoWriMo novel jumped into my head sometime in late September, I got all fluttery inside. I’m such a sucker for this kind of thing. The idea of working together with a group of other people to get all of us from the starting line through to the finish is alluring. I mean, what’s better than being an author–the person who answers the question of what happens next in a story? The only thing better is doing it with a team!

I guess a lot of people felt the same way we did. We’ve got over 50 authors working on two versions of the Hale family shenanigans in our novels respectively entitled No Rest for the Wicked, Take ONE and No Rest for the Wicked, Take Two.

In one version of the novel, there is a fire at the family compound and Eli, the patriarch, has to be taken to the hospital (where his youngest daughter is a doctor) for smoke inhalation

In the other version, Eli fakes a bankruptcy in order to discern who in his family truly loves him versus who hangs around just for what might turn out to be a hefty inheritance. Meanwhile, his mild mannered, childlike wife is having a secret affair.

As I watch through the lens of webmaster, I’ve made a number of observations:

1.  Writing something for others to read in real time is scary. Every day I field a flurry of frantic emails. “Can you tell me again how to get into the google document?” “I hope I didn’t do any harm to the story.” “Can I have someone help me write my chapter?” “Will you make sure I didn’t screw anything up?” To be honest, I haven’t had much time for proofreading, so I’ve simply had to remind everyone of this: This project is an act of ANTI-perfectionism. This is about writing with abandon. It’s about having fun and joining a community. It’s about playing with words and experiencing the complexity of story-telling.

2. Writing something for others to read in real time is brave. We’ve got both experienced and novice authors working together on this project. I, for one, am proud of how everyone has put him/herself out there. With utter abandon each writer has taken the proverbial baton and run with it, moving the stories forward and handing it off with gusto. In spite of the fear, everyone has come through.

3. There are a lot of smart, creative people in our virtual writing community. I am laughing my way through the cleverness and wit of every chapter. I’ve noticed how each person has brought his/her expertise and particular flare to the project and how, without exception, each author has been faithful to the spirit of the work.

4. This is fun.

And we’re only half way through! What have you noticed as a reader or writer of No Rest for the Wicked? If you’ve already written your chapter, what was it like for you? If you haven’t written your chapter yet, what are you worried about/excited to resolve or add? And we’ll ask this again at the end of the project, but what’s your advice for next year?

A big thanks to everyone who has participated in or is about to participate in the unfolding of these stories!