Chuck Wendig’s Nanowrimo Challenge

Chuck Wendig challenged readers to post a thousand words from their current Nanowrimo project. This piece is, needless to say, pretty rough, but here it goes:

For Bear Naked readers, this snippet from book four is the packs arrival at the big council of werewolves. It introduces an important side character for this book and the rest of the series.


Amanda groaned as she climbed out of the car she’d shared for the last nearly ten hours with the other alpha females, Karen Leidulf and Darlene Sage. They’d been driven by Soldier, one of Arthur’s wolves and it was supposed to have been an honor, being part of the alpha group. Amanda would have much rather ridden with Connor or even better, with her pack.

They’d left early, before the sun had risen. It was now mid afternoon and it would be late afternoon before they could hike to their camp site and set camp. The thought of the long day she’d pass, and the long day yet to come soured Amanda’s mood even more.

Their hike-in point was an abandoned farm in on the edge of Hercule-Glades wilderness area. They were met by a man in torn jeans and a muscle shirt, who waved them behind a decrepit barn. They found several other vehicles already parked there, out of sight of the road. From here they would hike several miles in, to a site that the human authorities knew nothing about.

Robbie had parked the van with the omegas and the younger pack beside them, Arthur pulled in on the far side. Vince, Mitch and the one remaining of Arthur’s wolf, a woman named Sarah, had ridden motorcycles and pulled in on the far side of the van.

Erica rushed to hug Amanda, even they’d only been separated a few hours. Tanner and Robbie were opening the back of the van to start unloading their camp gear. The rest of the three packs were slowly gathering around them, stretching sore muscles, and talking amongst themselves.

Other vehicles were pulling in and there were signs of activity all around them. “Chose a popular time to arrive,” Karen commented.

A man came to greet them. He took a big sniff as he approached. “Leidulf contingent.” He sniffed again, his eyebrow furled. “And?”

“Amanda,” Amanda said, her mood souring more at the reminder of her scent. “Burnson.”

“Bear clan,” he said with a nod. His eyes traveled up and down her body, appraising her with a calculating stare. She met the stare and he looked away. “Thought they’d be bigger,” he muttered to himself.

Tanner scoffed at him. “Ain’t seen her in bear form.”

Valerie moved forward to break off the conflict. She introduced herself and accepted a map of the route into the woods. “How will our campsite be marked?” she asked.

The man just shrugged. “Just set up where you like. Best get a move on, though. Best sites be taken.”

“No organization?” Valerie huffed at the man’s retreating back. The rest were pulling bags from trunks or from the back of the van.

“Gives the early arrivals, their allies, the advantage of picking the best sites,” Tanner opined.

“No,” Arthur said. “It’s typical Fleischer thinking at work. Be a few challenges for choice sites, no doubt. People will choose sites near friendly tribes. By days end the pecking order around camp, and the alliances will be obvious. What is that?” His nose wrinkled as Erica and Jonathan hoisted a mass of canvas out of the back of the van.

“Darren’s pavilion,” Amanda replied. “Always said, if you are camping in the same place more than five days, use the pavilion.”

“And if not?” Valerie asked.

“It’s so much work to set up. Tents are easy. But pavilions are better.”

Arthur made a face, like he was about to disagree. “It reeks of bear clan.”

“Let them know where our loyalties lie,” Connor replied. “And if it makes the Sons of Garm uncomfortable, all the better.”

Amanda had packed a small cart as well. She pulled it out and directed Erica and Jonathan to lay the canvas on top. “The poles strap to the side. We can pile most of the packs on top. Take a couple people to haul it all, but it will be easier than each having to haul a huge backpack.” She gave Arthur a shaded glance as she said it, as if to let him know that he wasn’t the only one with expertise in their group.

Before long they were loaded and ready to go. They consulted their map and started down a trail into the woods.

On the very edge of the farm they encounter a small group of people, mostly Fleischer wolves from the odor, though it was hard to tell for sure. The parking area was awash in many scents as various packs arrived and debarked.

A slender man with long blond hair and deep blue eyes stood uncertainly beside a tree, one hand resting on its trunk. He regarded the semi circle of people surrounding him with a look of bitter resignation.

The man directly in front of him had scruffy dark hair and dark eyes. He had a Canada crutch in one hand and was pointing it at the blond man. “Gonna crawl all the way in, huh?” he demanded.

Amanda’s eyes narrowed and her blood pressure rose. She looked at the blond again. His stance wasn’t uncertain, merely off and he used the tree to hold himself upright.

“If you don’t give me my crutch,” the man said. “I suppose I shall have to.”

The group laughed.

“A crippled werewolf,” the man snorted derisively. “Do you know what we do with cripples in our tribe?”

“Do tell,” the man’s voice dripped with sarcasm. “I’m sure it’s quite fascinating.”

The dark haired man licked his lips and looked around. He apparently hadn’t been prepared to have to actually explain. “Well, we don’t let them be part of our councils, that’s for sure.” He poked at the blond with the crutch.

The blond seized the opportunity to grab for the crutch. “Your a real genius, Marty,” he sneered as the two men fought over the crutch.

Marty yanked, pulling the blond forward onto the ground and retrieving the crutch. “Fuck you, Haltir.”

“Marty,” a woman offered hesitantly. “Maybe you should just give it back or…”

“Or what? He’ll tell on me?”

“Or maybe you could just leave him alone, you know, because it’s the right thing to do,” Amanda growled, striding forward.

Marty roared in laughter. “Yeah, right. Who says, princess? You look like a feisty one. I like that.” He reached for one of her breasts.

She knocked his hand aside and shoved him with all her strength. It sent him several feet through the air and into a ragged heap.

Everyone stepped back in surprise. Connor laughed, coming to Amanda’s side. “She’s a strong one, too, my alpha. Best not to forget that.” He retrieved the crutch and handed it to Haltir. He rose slowly, balanced on the crutch.

“We are heading in now, if you wish to join us,” Amanda said.

Haltir gave her a sharp, guarded look. Humiliated at being saved by a woman? Angry? Or what? “I’m slow but quite capable,” he replied, his voice tight. He turned and started towards the path.

“Haltir,” she said, moving towards the man again. “It’s an unusual name.” The name tickled the back of her mind, but she couldn’t place it.

“It’s old norse,” he replied.

She recognized the word from Uncle Darren. “It means…” the words died in her throat. He turned and met her gaze, his blues eyes piercing. It meant broken.

“I know what it means.” He looked at his aggressors, who were slowly pulling Marty back to his feet, shaken but not seriously hurt. “In my tribe cripples are left to die at birth,” he said. “Father would have, too, but mom forbade it. Said she took one look into my eyes and couldn’t bear the thought.” He looked back at Amanda. “But dad got his revenge in the naming.” He turned and started resolutely towards the path again.

“Your tribe?” Tanner called at his retreating back.

“Garm,” he replied without looking back. A shiver went through Amanda.

Nanowrimo Mistakes I’ve Made

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Nanowrimo is all about writing with abandon, getting the words on the page no matter what. Even if they suck, you can’t edit a blank page. Our local region has it’s own motto, “Yeah crap!”

Given that Nanowrimo is about writing with abandon, it’s also about taking risks and trying new things. In that vein, I regularly make mistakes in my Nanowrimo projects. Here are my top three Nanowrimo mistakes.

1. Trying to do Nanowrimo in college

I know some people manage to do Nanowrimo despite numerous life hurdles. They have jobs, kids, live events and still manage to write.

The thing about doing Nanowrimo while taking college classes is this, college involves a lot of writing anyway. To make matters worse, most schools end the fall semester around the first part of December. That often means the main research project is due sometime in late November.

My first Nanowrimo started off pretty well. But I was taking classes and the combination of novel writing and a couple of large research papers just got to be too much and something had to give. Since I wasn’t being graded on my novel, guess what gave. You live, you learn.

2. Plan a novel, then at the last minute, write something else

I made this mistake the next time around. I had my novel project all planned out and ready to go. Then on the night of the first write in I got to thinking, one of the original mottoes of Nanowrimo was “no plot, no problem.” So I decided to do a true Nanowrimo and scrap the project I had planned. Instead I came up with stuff on the fly.

It was fun, at first. Then I finished the story, around thirty five thousand words in. Ugh. Now what?

I finished that year, believe it or not. The entire last fifteen thousands words were nothing, long ramblings that didn’t really connect to the this story, or anything else. They were eventually all scrapped. Not to mention that the last week and half of that Nanowrimo was not an experience I would ever want to repeat. Some people are pantsers, but I am not one of them.

3. I’ve mastered the Nanowrimo pace. How about a side project?

Ugh. This is this year’s big mistake. I realized a couple years ago that Nanowrimo wasn’t the challenge it once was, in large part because I write at this pace, or nearly so, all year round. I write an hour or two a day, at a pace of around a thousand words an hour. So the 1,666 words a day you need to keep pace on Nanowrimo is about a typical day’s writing for me.

So this year I am writing a novel. I have this other side project I’ve been thinking about and researching. And in my spare time, I’ve started writing. Mistake. Now I am struggling to get my words in on Nanowrimo, not because I’m not writing but because I’m writing something else. Sigh.


So there are three big Nanowrimo mistakes I’ve made. I’m not really upset with any of them. You know why? Because a huge part of success lies in making mistakes. Mistakes and failure should be embraced as steps on the road, part of the process. So I will wear my mistakes proudly on my chest.

What about you? What Nanowrimo mistakes have you made? Let me know in the comments.

What's my side project? Well my cookbooks appear to be sprouting tabs. Hmm...

What’s my side project? Well my cookbooks appear to be sprouting tabs. Hmm…

Sometimes it’s the Little Things, and That’s Okay.

When I am trying to stay motivated on a big project, I will start tracking little things. The little things are mile markers on the journey to big things. When writing I look at word counts, scenes written, plot points passed to see how far along I really am. When marketing I celebrate small victories, like a new review, a solitary sale or even pageviews on a blog.

We all know the glib aphorism, don’t sweat the small stuff. But you know what? I want to sweat the small stuff. The small stuff keeps me engaged when the big stuff looks overwhelming. One could almost say, just sweat the small stuff, and let the big stuff take care of itself.

It’s November first and Nanowrimo begins today. I am going to my regions kick off party in another hour or so, and I will begin my novel then. In the meantime I am working on my profile and doing some last minute prep work.

I have a bunch of badges on my profile page. I’ve got all of my participation badges. Yeah, it was so worth the donation to get that final one. Go donate to Nanowrimo right now and you’ll see.

I intend to earn those writing badges, too. Right now I am yearning for the Participation Pep badge. That’s why I am writing this blog. When I am done I will post it on my website and cross post in the forums and get that badge.


Because that’s how I motivate myself to write. You can, too. Is this your first Nano? Have you failed in the past? Don’t worry, you can do this. Just take one step at a time. Find some small marker, five hundred words written, a thousand words, one scene, whatever works for you. And then do it. Celebrate. Repeat. And repeat.

If your family thinks it’s silly to take a dance break, or have a cookie, every time you write five hundred words, or meet your daily goal, screw them. They don’t get a cookie. You do. Because no matter how silly the goal, or the reward, it works for you and that’s all that matters. So embrace the little things and let the big job take care of itself.


p.s. I’ve even made a goofy working cover, just for my nanowrimo page.


October Prep-Mo and Good News for Bear Naked Fans

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

November is Nanowrimo, National Novel Writer’s Month. I am intending to participate again. As more and more writers join the Nanowrimo fun, October has become prep-mo, a period of prepping your Nano project and getting ready to write. What that means depends on the writer. Some do extensive planning, others sketch some notes and are ready to go.

I’ve been trying to decide what to do. I have my third apocalypse novel and it should be finished before the month is out. I have been debating what to do next.

There is one novel that is mostly planned but unwritten, Bear Naked 4: The Wolf Council. With renewed interest in the series now that Bear Naked 3 is out, it’s time to write book four.

The Hunted

Book four covers a relatively short period of time, the council between the werewolf tribes. However there is a lot of action in that short period. I am probably going to end up giving almost every character some POV time. It should be an interesting challenge to write and I am looking forward to starting it.

In the meanwhile you can get the first three in print from the Wordverve or in ebook from Amazon. Check the series out.

Or sign up for my newsletter to get updates.

Nano, Nano…

Nano, Nano, Nano, Nano, Nano, Nano, Nano, Nano…


How many of you read that to the tune of Batman?

How many of you are doing Nanowrimo?

It’s here! It’s here!

I am at Icon this weekend, Iowa’s oldest Sci-fi Con. I am having a great time, talking on panels, signing books and just absorbing the atmosphere. Still I have found a little time to get started on my Nanowrimo project, a few hundred words. I am excited to be doing it again this year. I can’t wait to get to some write-ins with my regional group next week.

If you haven’t done Nanowrimo or gone to a science fiction convention, I recommend both go on your bucket list. But then again, I might be biased.


Do you Nanowrimo? How about Octo-Fret-Mo?

I’ve done Nanowrimo for several years now. For those of you who don’t know the acronym Nanowrimo yet, it stands for National Novel Writers Month. Every November writers all over the world gather together and undertake the funnest, most insane challenge you can think of, write a fifty thousand word novel in a month. It’s a blast, even if you don’t manage to complete your novel. For more information, check their official webpage.

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Over the last couple of years I’ve developed my own set of Nanowrimo traditions. I’ve decided to create a new acronym and holiday to go along with Nanowrimo. I’m calling it Octo-Fret-Mo. It is when you spend October fretting about the upcoming Nanowrimo.
I spend most of October wrapping up projects, working on back burner projects so that I don’t start a big project too soon and mostly, worrying about what I’m going to write for Nanowrimo this year.
Anyone else Octo-Fret-Mo? Let me know in the comments.
In the meanwhile, if you need to take your mind of your fretting, you can pick up my latest YA novel for free this weekend only. Check it out here.