NaNoWriMo Day 1: And So It Begins

Happy November 1st, which around here marks the beginning of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, when writers try to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.  I’ve done NaNo 7 times since 2011, most recently in 2019 when I wrote The Princess Beyond the Thorns, a book I’m hoping to publish in the next year or two.  And this year, I’m kicking off a brand-new project, and plan to blog about it.

I noticed while researching for my Guardian trilogy that most other historical novels set in Paris seem to take place during World War II.  My setting was 1881 so that was quite different – but it occurred to me that World War II would be the right timing for the Phantom of the Opera’s granddaughter.  So that’s the story I’m writing this November!  I’ve been researching the Occupation of Paris throughout October (a little light reading!!) and began the actual drafting today.

Because I have an eight-month-old baby, I’m adjusting my goals a bit this year.  Rather than aiming for 50,000, I’ve decided to do a half-NaNo and try to reach 25,000 words.  Today I got started on my opening scene and wrote 1,073 words – so that puts me a couple hundred up from my goal of 834.

Here’s a little glimpse at the writing so far:

I halted on the edge of the Place de l’Opera and drew in a satisfied breath, tinged with just a touch of relief.  Of course it was ridiculous to think that the opera house could have collapsed or vanished, just because my grandfather had died – but somehow, I hadn’t quite been able to feel that it would still be here.  But there it was: the Opera Garnier.  The soaring pillars on the front, the line of grinning masks, the great dome and the shining, golden statue of Apollo at the very top.  All still just as it should be and had always been.

NaNoWriMo Day 30: Finish Line

Happy Thanksgiving weekend to my American readers!  And…it’s the last day of NaNoWriMo!  I’m excited to share that I reached and passed my goal of 60,000 words this month.

I passed the 50,000 mark on November 25th, and actually finished my 60,000 word goal a day early.  I had my highest word count day on November 29th, clocking in at 4,276 words.  I got together with several writing friends in the evening, including two doing NaNo, and it was especially fun to pass the 60,000 mark while writing with them.

I kept writing today, even though the pressure was off, and ended up with a final total of 63,068 words, a personal NaNo best.  I’m sooo close to the end of the novel too–I have about three scenes left, so maybe 2,000 to 4,000 words.  I hope to finish in the next couple of days, so I can slack off for December. 🙂

Well, actually, I have an entirely different project I plan to start in December, that I may share about soon.  We’ll see!  But that’s how it goes…  November 1st through 30th: write.  December 1st: keep writing!

Here’s an end-of-NaNo excerpt.  My characters have been angsting for a while, but I’ve brought them nearly up to the happy ending now.  There’s still a few things for them to work out, though…


Terrence wrapped his hand around hers and it felt so familiar, so good, that Rose couldn’t make herself feel alarm even as they hurried behind the cats.  She knew Xevrix might appear at any moment, but she couldn’t feel it.

“I know this isn’t the time,” Terrence said as they approached the nearest door to the castle, “but when you left through that mirror, did you mean to leave permanently?”

“No,” Rose said in honest surprise.  “Of course not.  I wasn’t that angry.  I mean, I was angry with you—I’m still angry with you, come to think of it, but we can talk about that later—but I just…wanted to prove I could act for myself, I think.”

“Proved,” Terrence said.  “Very proved.  Maybe prove it less intensely next time?”

“Maybe listen to me next time?” Rose countered, tugging on his hand.

“I’m sorry—I’m very, very sorry, and I will happily be very eloquent about it later when we have the time,” he said, pushing open the door.

NaNoWriMo Day 24: Word Count Downs and Ups

We’re in the final week of NaNoWriMo now, with just six days left.  And it’s going to be a weird week, with Thanksgiving coming so late in the month this year!  I was keeping up very well for my 60,000 word goal, continuing to write around 2,000 words a day, even on workdays this past week.  And then…I got sick on Friday.  And, because I write every day, I clocked in at 306 words, and those were a struggle.  It’s actually kind of funny to see on my word count graph, as everything goes along pretty steadily and then–nose dive.

Fortunately, I had a big cushion in case of this kind of thing.  Despite the rough day, I never quite dropped below my target total per day, though I pretty well ate up my cushion.  If I’d stayed sicker for longer, I would have been behind very quickly for my 60,000 word goal–though I’d probably still be okay for the 50,000 goal.  Fortunately, even though I’ve still been recovering yesterday and today, I was able to spend both days largely alternating writing sprints and episodes of Psych (good show, I recommend it!)  So yesterday clocked in at 1,900 words (and six episodes) and today I hit 2,586 words.

The upshot of all that?  I’m currently sitting at 49,288, very close to the 50,000 mark and probably on track still for 60,000, as long as nothing too cataclysmic happens before the end of the month!

As to the story…it probably didn’t help that I hit a bit of a block the same day I got sick, but I managed to get over that hump and have outlined scenes up to the end of the book now.  I wrote a decent amount of angsting for Terrence on Saturday, which probably helped wrack up words, and today I hit another plot turn that brings us to the final, hopefully faster-moving and easier to write, section of the book.

I still can’t tell if reaching 60,000 words will also bring me to the end of the story.  I think it may be a little longer than that, but hopefully not by much.  I doubt I’ll try for a final push to finish the novel by the end of the month if it’s longer than 60K (maybe) but it should be possible to finish in early December.  And I think I’m good with that.

Here’s an excerpt from Terrence’s angsting chapter.  I think I last posted about Rose and Terrence arguing and…yeah, that didn’t end very well for them!


It was almost as though the entire interlude of the last few months, everything from the day Terrence had set out to rescue the Princess Behind Thorns, hadn’t happened.  Except that Gregory was gone and he was treated as the heir in his place.  There was that.  But all the steps to get there seemed to have been neatly brushed away, as though he had simply stepped into a more welcoming, more accepting alternate world.

Terrence found, to his own surprise, that he hated it.

He didn’t want to pretend that Rose didn’t exist.  He wasn’t sure he wanted to talk about her, especially about how it had all fallen apart, but he didn’t want her existence to be swept away as though she had never been, as though she hadn’t mattered at all except as the reason he could claim the throne.

As though she really had only been the legendary Princess Behind Thorns, easily set aside now that her purpose of securing a new heir was complete.

He was glad every day that Emerald Eyes hadn’t left with Rose.  The small black cat stuck by his side with a stubbornness that overcame closed council room doors and his father’s dark looks.  Terrence brought the cat everywhere he was permitted, and if he was shut out of anywhere, he invariably turned up anyway.  If not for the black cat, Rose’s cat, Terrence felt he might have started to question himself if she’d ever existed.  If not for the tangible, furry shadow left behind, he might have started to think he’d only dreamed up a fantasy that had turned on him at the end.

NaNoWriMo Day 17: Surprises and Arguments

I’ve let almost a week go by without an update on NaNoWriMo!  The writing itself, however, has been going well.  I’ve crossed the 35,000 word mark, which puts me well ahead on the 50,000 word goal, and gives me a small cushion for my 60,000 word goal.  As the end of the month, with holidays and other commitments, may be tougher for writing, that’s a reassuring place to be.

I’ve had some moments of “oh, I see how that fits together,” although less this time than some NaNos, because this book is much more plotted than some of my previous ones.  My characters have still managed to occasionally surprise me though.  I just passed a new turning point in the story, and it didn’t go precisely how I expected.  Rose and Terrence had the big fight I anticipated, but when Rose decided to leave via magic mirror, I thought it would be in a permanent, I’m just so done, kind of a way.  Turned out as I wrote it that she felt she was only temporarily leaving.  That’s not how that’s going to turn out though…  🙂  But those are words still to be written.

Right now, I feel like I’ve moved through two distinct sections of the plot and am now hurtling onto the next, maybe final one?  I sketched the broad strokes in an outline before NaNoWriMo started, but I didn’t have it planned on a scene by scene level.  That’s something I’ve been doing several scenes at a time as I go, and I’m right at the point where I need to plan out my next few.  I’ll see if there are any surprises when I get to that!

But for today, have a bit of an argument.


Terrence stared at Rose for a long, silent moment.  Then he ran his hands over his face and through his hair, setting a few curls askew.  His tone turned soothing again when he said, “Edward must have reminded you of Gregory.  With the blood on his hands, and there’s always been a resemblance.”

“Yes,” she said honestly, because it was true she’d had that thought.  “But that isn’t what this is about.”

“You’ve just been through something very upsetting,” he continued.  Still soothing.  Trying to calm her down, trying to brush the ideas away.  “It’s natural that you’re scared—”

“I’m not scared, Terrence,” she said, glaring at him.  “I am angry!”

Now he just looked exasperated.  “You’re angry with Edward for rescuing you from—”

“No, I’m angry with you!”  She shoved up from the chair, not wanting to look up towards him anymore.  “I’m trying to tell you what happened, and you aren’t listening to me!”

“Rose, what do you want me to do?” he asked, spreading his hands.  “He’s my brother.”

“And I’m your wife!”

“And you don’t know.  You can’t just accuse him—”

“They’re never going to be who you want them to be,” she said, hands clenching at her sides.  “You refuse to see it, but your family is never going to change, and they aren’t who you want them to be now.  Gregory wasn’t, your father isn’t, and Edward isn’t.”

“And not everyone is trying to hurt you!” Terrence countered.  “You can’t go around believing that there are threats everywhere around you.  I understand you’ve been through a lot of terrible things.  I even understand why you might be concerned about my family, after Gregory.  I understand why you’d be scared, but—”

            “I told you,” she said in a low voice.  “I’m not scared.  And you don’t understand.  Not at all.”

NaNoWriMo Day 7: Cuteness and Cracks

A week has gone by for NaNoWriMo already–and it seems like we only just started!  I am approaching 15,000 words, which puts me well ahead of today’s 11,669 word goal, or even my 14,000 word stretch goal (which is for 60,000 words at the end of the month).  So far, so good!  I did find that weekdays mostly have been several hundred words below non-work days, but that’s pretty well to be expected.

I’m coming up on the end of the plot section I’ve been writing.  I mentioned I’m in a kind of lull part of the plot.  You know that bit in Stardust, when Tristran and Yvaine travel around the magical country and discover their skills and grow as people and in their relationship, and Gaiman decided to put all of that in just six pages?  Yeah, that’s the part of the story I’m in, except that I’m apparently spending about 15,000 words here.  And Rose and Terrence aren’t so much growing their relationship as uncovering some cracks in it.  While having some cute scenes too.

The villain puts in an appearance in the very next scene I need to write, and two scenes after that everything gets a lot more tense, so I think that will be an interesting shift to make a week into NaNo.

For now, here’s a bit I wrote today that points up a relationship crack while also having some cuteness in the scene.  It’s set just after they narrowly (ish) escaped some bandits (so there’s been some excitement in the lull section too).  Enjoy!


            “It would have been much more frightening,” Rose said at length, “if you hadn’t been there.”

Terrence laughed, half at the comment and half just with the relief of the moment.  “Now you’re just trying to flatter me.”

“No, it’s true,” she protested, lifting her head to smile at him.

“Well, it is flattering, but if things had gone badly—six to one isn’t very good odds really.”  He remembered in time not to say out loud that Gregory had always been able to beat him at swords too.  He just thought it, and the thought made him think of something else.  “You didn’t mean it, did you, about my father sending them?  It’s true he was upset with us, but he wouldn’t go that far.”

Rose’s smiled faded and she looked at him for a long moment before she said, “I thought it might sway them.  It did seem to help.”  That was almost an answer but it wasn’t satisfying.  He meant to push the point, but before he could Rose continued, in cheerful tones again, “It seemed to help more that you’re Good Prince Terrence.”

Terrence groaned.  “Do not start calling me that.”

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