Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

Camp NaNoWriMo, April 2015: Week Three Update

daisyIt is safe to say that I will not “win” CampNaNoWriMo this time around. Could I have won? Given my word count from last November’s NaNoWriMo, I think the answer is “yes.” However, so far, I think I am walking away with something even more important than a finished manuscript — two lessons.

Lesson one: I have figured out my best time to write each day. Unexpected events aside, I can easily write 1,000 to 1,500 words in an hour. It’s nothing compared to the vigorous pace of “regular” NaNoWriMo, but it is sustainable. That will get me much farther in the long run.

Lesson two: I am learning how to balance and prioritize. Often times, I focus too much on “20%” activities, such as social media or blogging, and my writing gets sacrificed. While I love putting out a blog post every day and interacting with you all consistently, writing is where I should focus more of my time. And I’m going to try to keep it as my top priority in thought and practice going forward.

Okay, enough epiphanies. Here is my week three summary:

My Personal Goal: 75,000 — or the finished first draft Desert Child, whichever comes first

My Secondary Goal: Create a sustainable writing habit for the future

Total Words Written: 28,938

Words Written This Week: 11,882

Day 15: 1,377

Day 16: 397

Day 17: 1,673

Day 18: 4,564

Day 19: 1,241

Day 20: 1,000

Day 21: 1,630

Estimated Writing Time: 6.5 hours

thinkingThe experience so far: I feel like I am maturing as an author. I am going at a consistent pace, avoiding burnout, and being kind to myself, even on less productive days.

Motivation: My motivation this week has been to keep my writing routine consistent. Even when I hardly have any time, I am still sitting down and producing work. While I will not finish this draft by April 30, I still want to finish Camp strong.

Biggest Triumph: Learning to write in tiny intervals. I’m one of those people who has to finish reading at the end of a chapter. Previously, this anal tendency had crossed over to my writing, making me write for huge chunks at a time to complete a chapter or scene — or simply not write at all. It was all or nothing. Now, I can sit down and write for ten minutes (as opposed to skipping it altogether) without stressing myself out. (Seriously, one of my characters is in the middle of being cremated right now, her corpse on full display before the tribe, and I don’t even care. Normally, I’d have to save her from the humiliation.)

Biggest Setback: There is construction on the highway, so my commute takes longer. Plus, I’m helping cover for one of my coworkers who is on vacation. Long story short, I’m tired a lot.

Helpful Insights: Push yourself out of your comfort zone and challenge your writing routine. I thought writing a chapter each session worked for me — and it does, but it also prevents me from stealing smaller bits of time for writing and limits what I can do in a session. By expanding how you work, you will be more productive and more versatile. This leads to increased sustainability and more consistent writing even when challenges aren’t happening.

How are your Camp NaNoWriMo adventures going? Anything fun to share? Any advice for your fellow campers?

Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

Camp NaNoWriMo, April 2015: Week Two Update

star wars
Evidence that I am not the ONLY culprit here.

Due to a mixture of good and not-so-good things, I have had a pretty underwhelming week two of Camp NaNoWriMo. On the positive side, socializing with great friends and some very exciting progress with The Cogsmith’s Daughter kept me from writing on this draft. On the negative side, entirely inexcusable procrastination and one family emergency stalled my writing progress as well.

The good news is that things are looking up for Week Three. I intend to be anti-social, the emergency is under control so far, and this post and my Camp NaNoWriMo graph have thoroughly shamed me into catching up. While I am not sure if it is chronologically possible for me to reach my goal after this week, I am determined to at least put in a good effort. And Baby Groot says, “I am Groot,” which is always comforting.

For a happier Kate, see my Week One Update.

Here is my not-so-productive week in review:

My Personal Goal: 75,000 — or the finished first draft Desert Child, whichever comes first.

Total Words Written: 17,056

Words Written This Week: 3,901

Day 8: 1,283

Day 9: 1,062

Day 10: 0

Day 11: 0

Day 12: 0

Day 13: 0

Day 14: 1,556

Estimated Writing Time: 2.75 hours

The experience so far: Obviously, this has been a rough week. I’m trying very hard not to beat myself up too much. I am always my worst critic.

timingMotivation: Does potentially insane optimism count? For some reason, I still feel like I can pull this off. Yes, it is going to be brutal, and yes, I will probably have to put in at least one 10k day over a weekend. But I still think I can pull this together and get this draft written (at least by early May) so I can go back to the safe (ha!), comfortable (ha ha!) world of Desertera.

Biggest Triumph: Getting back to writing after four days off. I know that seems simple, but once I get in a rut, it is really hard to get back on the horse, so-to-speak. My secondary goal for this Camp NaNoWriMo is to figure out a more sustainable writing routine. No more insane word counts and one-month, one-book quick fixes for me. I need to get in the routine of writing at least five days a week or I will never sustain this as a business.

Biggest Setback: There is a rather ginormous reveal at the end of this book, which necessitates a lot of foreshadowing throughout the draft. Silly me, I revealed way too much too early, and I had to go back and rewrite a scene. In total, it took me about 20 minutes of typing, but it also took me about three days of procrastinating and avoiding fixing it.

Helpful Insights: If something is bugging you about your draft, go in and fix it. Now. Seriously, right now. I don’t care what they say about not revising during a NaNoWriMo event. If whatever has happened is preventing you from moving forward, just go back and put at least a passable bandaid on it — whatever it takes to get you over it and writing forward again. You can stitch it up properly when you edit next month.

How are your Camp NaNoWriMo adventures going? Anything fun to share? Any advice for your fellow campers?

Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

Camp NaNoWriMo, April 2015: Week One Update

baby groot worldWhenever I do update posts, I feel like I always marvel at the quick, fleeting passage of time. But it’s always true. The first week of Camp NaNoWriMo has gone quickly. To catch up on my plan, read this.

On a personal level, I am satisfied with and optimistic about my progress. I have written quite a lot, despite family commitments and working overtime at my day job. However, on an anal, graph-stalking level, I am a little concerned that I will not be able to meet my personal camp goal, and the pressure is on.

Here is how I have done so far:

My Personal Goal: 75,000 — or the finished first draft Desert Child, whichever comes first.

Total Words Written: 13,155

Day 1: 1,082

Day 2: 1,479

Day 3: 0

Day 4: 5,526

Day 5: 1,571

Day 6: 1,460

Day 7: 2,037

Estimated Writing Time: 9.5 hours

The experience so far: With NaNoWriMo last November, I put all this insane pressure on myself. It was my first real attempt to write a novel, and I wanted to prove to myself (and everyone else) that I could do it. I’m not sure if it is the “Camp” part of this event or the fact that this is my second novel, but I feel way more relaxed. I’m not forcing myself to stay at the keyboard or type as quickly as I can. I’m just plodding along at a pace that feels comfortable and stopping when I need to stop. It’s nice.

baby groot plotMotivation: My motivation this week has been staying accountable to my cabin mates. It’s been nice to have people to give updates to, and to receive updates and cheer each other on. I wish “regular” NaNoWriMo had this same structure. You can follow our cabin adventures with #wordcountslayers. (Yeah, we’re legit.)

Another great motivator has been taking photos of my writing mascot, Baby Groot. I feel like I have to write to pose with him, otherwise it is dishonest. So, in a weird way, his adorable-ness has been very motivating. You can follow his adventures on Instagram, Twitter, and/or Facebook, or by using #BabyGrootWrites.

Biggest Triumph: Having fun. Don’t get me wrong — I had a lot of fun writing The Cogsmith’s Daughter. But Desert Child is a whole other animal. It’s wild and untamed. Vague spoiler alerts: I’m actively getting to kill characters; there’s magic; there’s high-action scenes. It’s very refreshing after a more “political” and “dramatic” novel.

Biggest Setback: The first 3,000 words were like pulling teeth. I felt like a peeping Tom spying on my characters from the outskirts of their village. It was like I didn’t belong in their world. However, now that I’m in the groove, we’re all solid.

Helpful Insights: If you are writing your first draft, just let go. Let your characters guide you. Let crazy things happen. Have fun. This doesn’t mean that you don’t follow an outline (if you made one). This doesn’t mean you go rogue. It means you unleash the full extent of your creativity and be the writer bad ass you truly are. You can tone it down with edits later.


I did not do this last NaNoWriMo, but we weren’t as good of friends then, were we, guys? Here’s a tiny excerpt from my writing this week — entirely unedited. It’s actually the opening of Desert Child.

She dead.

I heard it like you hear a landslide. Soft, at first, slow, a single pebble bouncing down a hill. Tap. Tap. Tap. As they came closer and more voices joined them, it grew louder. A cascade of pebbles slipping out from under a boulder; the boulder breaking loose. Taptap. Rumble. Crunch.

When they finally reached the edge of the cliff, I thought the canyon would collapse around us under the force of their cries. I looked up at them from where I stood, ankle deep in the cold stream, used my hands to shield my eyes from the sun. I wanted to see them clearly, see their dirty, tear-stained cheeks bulge above their smiles.

There were ten of them. They stood in a straight line, tiny toes wrapping around the edge of the cliff. I wanted to warn them, to holler at them to back away, lest they slip and join her. But I couldn’t, because at that exact moment, as their high-pitched voices bellowed the news across the canyon, it finally hit me.


How are your Camp NaNoWriMo adventures going? Anything fun to share? Any advice for your fellow campers?

Writing & Publishing Articles, Writing Craft & Tips

Camp NaNoWriMo: April 2015

Okay, friends, here is the official announcement: I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo this April. I also plan to participate in the Camp NaNoWriMo in July, but that is Summer Kate’s issue.

campingFor those of you who don’t know, Camp NaNoWriMo is a month-long event in which writers commit to their personal writing goals. Unlike National Novel Writing Month in November, where writers challenge themselves to write 50,000 words, during Camp NaNoWriMo, writers can write, edit, revise, plot, etc. however much or little they like.

My goal for April is to write the first draft of my next novel. Logically, I should probably be writing the sequel to The Cogsmith’s DaughterHowever, I have decided to postpone writing book two in The Desertera Series until The Cogsmith’s Daughter has been finalized and is on its way to publication. Instead, I will be writing the first book in an intended trilogy, titled Desert Child.

Desert Child will be (I think) a young adult (or new adult) dystopian novel. I’m also thinking about writing it in first person, which will be a drastic change from The Cogsmith’s Daughter, but it feels right so far.

Desert Child follows the life of Izel, who lives in a small village in the desert – a la the Native Americans of the U.S. Southwest. The novel opens with the death of the village’s high priestess. After her funeral, the witch doctor (better name to be constructed) declares that the high priestess must be replaced. He summons Izel and other young women from the village to go through a series of spiritual and physical trials to determine which one of them is destined to be the next high priestess. Magic, near-death experiences, and teenage angst ensue.

There’s also a pretty cool twist at the end. But, obviously, I can’t tell you that.

To get a better feel for Desert Child, check out my inspiration board on Pinterest.

baby grootSupporting me during Camp NaNoWriMo journey is my writing mascot, Baby Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy. This Baby Groot figurine was a Valentine’s Day gift from Daniel, and I cannot wait to write with him. You can follow our writing adventures on Instagram at #babygrootwrites (even though I’m probably the only person on the planet who will use it).

My other support will come from my cabin of groovy gals (guys allowed, just unrepresented). The Camp NaNoWriMo website encourages writers to join or gather “cabins,” which are basically virtual support groups. There are seven of us in the cabin right now, but I believe Camp allows 12 in a group. So, if you are doing Camp NaNoWriMo and want to join us, leave your username in the comments and I’ll add you!

Well, that’s it for me today! Feel free to give me your initial reactions to my next novel idea, and let me know if you’ll be at Camp this April, too!

Fiction Blog, Guest Posts

Guest Post: Blog Tour, The Curious Tale of Gabrielle by Zachary Paul Chopchinski

Today, I am honored to host a spot on Zachary Paul Chopchinski’s blog tour for his debut novel, The Curious Tale of Gabrielle. Contained in this post are Zach’s advice for would-be indie authors, information about his novel and him, a blog tour calendar, AND two book giveaways!

~ Guest Post ~

I guess I would have to say that my biggest inspiration and driving force behind writing The Curious Tale of Gabrielle is the possibility of feeling like I contributed something to the world; I created something that future persons could look back on and enjoy. I look back at the great authors that have written and created beautiful pieces and I see how those authors impacted thousands of lives. As some of you may know, I didn’t grow up in the best of conditions. My only escape, my only hope, was to engulf myself in the books that I cherished, and for a small time, leave my life and enter a word of unforeseen possibility. As a kid that needed that escape; I know firsthand the power of a good book. I want to give that back to others that are in need of a small escape.

My journey to independent publication (indie publication) was a road full of back-pedaling and learning on the go. Even from the beginning, I had a hard time getting the book written. For those of you who don’t know me, I have a little bit of an attention deficit problem. I sit down at the computer, with the best of intentions, and I’m shortly stunted by phrases like: “Oh look at this picture of this kitty stuck in a vase” and “HONEY! LOOK AT THIS VINE OF THIS KID DOING A THING!”.

But even after I had the book written, I didn’t even know how to begin marketing and selling it. My wife helped me get set up on social media sites and set up a website, but I still didn’t know anything about how to market and sell a book. Plus, I still needed a cover, an editor, and beta readers (which I didn’t even know I needed at the time). I sort of learned what I needed and how to get it along the way, while struggling to put enough money together for a professional cover. Honestly, the thing that helped me the most to make sense of what I needed to do and how to go about doing it was the online indie writing community. With the advice from several bloggers, indie authors, editors, and all of their connections, I was able to get a game plan on what I needed to do and in what order.

I would have to say, if I were to give advice to other indie authors out there or people who are interested in taking the indie path, I would have to say: get that online community before you try and do things yourself. The indie author community is extremely welcoming and willing to give advice and offer connections whenever possible. Once you have that down, then worry about marketing and covers and blog tours. Also, I’d say, never stop doing what you’re doing. Even if you never publish, or if no one buys it. You still created something, that’s beautiful and something you should be proud of. If you love to write, keep doing it no matter what. I’d like to leave you with some advice that was given to me when I first started: “The average start-up business doesn’t break even/make profit for five years”. So, don’t get frustrated or think you haven’t created something special if it takes a while to get recognized.

~ About the Book ~

zach bookThe Curious Tale of Gabrielle (Book 1 in The Curious Tale of Gabrielle Book Series)

Author: Zachary Paul Chopchinski

Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Adventure, Historical Fiction

 ~ Synopsis ~

A young Gabrielle is driven by her will to explore and see new things. She cannot stop or rest until all within her reach has been experienced and explored. Driven by an astounding will and lack of common fear, she finds herself able to face things most adults might fall before. Yet has there been a journey that has been meant specifically for her all along? Is there a path that has been created just for her to travel?

Follow Gabrielle as she ventures through the lives of many with the experience of only her own. What will happen as she discovers the lives—and tragedies—of the souls who choose her to see their story? It’s a journey through history, life, and love unlike anything that could be imagined—except perhaps by a young girl.

~ Excerpt ~

“Hello…?” Gabrielle pleaded with the silence, hoping for a response from anybody at this point. She could feel that something was wrong, as she found herself looking at the vase of flowers that she had admired the day before. She could feel her heart stop as she looked at the once beautiful vase of flowers. Something was terribly wrong, the flowers were all dead. Not only were they dead, but they had been dead for some time, by the look of them, as they were dried with most of their petals on the table. Gabrielle’s mouth hung ajar in shock. These flowers had been alive and vibrant not several hours ago. How is this possible?

The urge to run came over her, as all of her senses were telling her to leave now and not look back. Something was wrong and she could feel it. She wasn’t sure how, but she could feel that whatever it was, was in the next room, lying just out of site. Gabrielle wasn’t sure how she knew this, but something was telling her as though it was being whispered into her ear. She stood frozen in fear for what felt like a lifetime when she heard the ‘click’ again.

~ Purchase links ~

Zach’s Website (Buying Direct)



Google Play

~ About the Author ~

zach 2Zachary is 27 and lives in Maine with his lovely wife, Layla. The two of them share a home with their 4 fur-children Thai, Bambina, Loki and Le vie (Thai and Bambina are cats and Loki and Le vie are dogs).

Zachary received an Associates degree in Criminal Justice and a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology from the University of Southern Maine. Zachary had two short stories published by Ohio State University when he was in elementary school, and a poem published when he was in high school. Zachary has always had two passions in his life, criminal justice and writing. After spending nearly 5 years working in security, Zachary decided it was time to give his other passion a chance.

Zachary is very much a family man and when he is not deep in writing, he can be found spending time with his family, playing video games or contemplating his next story idea.

~ Social Media Sites ~

Zach’s Website





~ Giveaways ~

Click here to win an e-book copy of The Curious Tale of Gabrielle

Click here to win a signed paperback copy of The Curious Tale of Gabrielle

~ Follow the Blog Tour ~

March 7 – Guest Post on I’m a Book Shark

March 14 – Guest Post on Tales of a Formerly Inadequate Fat Girl

March 20 – Author Interview on I’m A Book Shark

March 28 – Book Review by author K.D. Wilson

March 30 – Guest Post on author Christie Cote’s website

You can also read my review of The Curious Tale of Gabrielle HERE.

I want to say a quick “thank you” to Zach for allowing me to be part of his blog tour! I have enjoyed watching your dreams come true, and I can’t wait to see where your career takes you!