Wednesday 29 November 2023

Final NaNo thoughts...

It's almost the end of November, so I decided to write a post about my thoughts regarding NaNoWriMo.

As you might already know, I've been a big fan of this writing challenge for YEARS. The first time I took part was in 2006, and only skipped one year because I was busy editing. Every time I participated, I completed the challenge.

Actually, some of those drafts were eventually published.

It's always been a fun way to finish off the year. So, in October, I signed up for my 17th time. I was ready to go and even reached 50k on the 14th of this month. I was really happy about my achievement and updated my word count on the NaNoWriMo website. 

Yay, right? Well, maybe not.

The next day, I found out some disturbing news. Distasteful things that had been happening behind the scenes and were posted all over social media. On the message boards, which I've never personally spent any time on. I won't go into all the details, but I know it involved teenagers been targeted by a predator and staff who didn't deal with this very well.

Personally, I don't know the nitty-gritty details but it all sounds pretty bad. So, I decided to step away from the website and stopped updating my progress.

To say that I'm disappointed is an understatement. I mean, people ruin everything, don't they?

This was supposed to be a fun experience! A cool way of writing a new draft at the same time as a bunch of other writers.

Writing a novel in November is a tradition I've enjoyed for over a decade. There's something awesome and even magical about squeezing in one final first draft before the year is over. A way to reward myself with a brand new story.

It's a shame, but I've decided to walk away from NaNoWriMo entirely. I don't care if they fix the message boards. I don't care if they apologize. I'm done with that place.

It's over for me. I'm walking away and won't look back. I’m also going to delete my account.

From now on, I'll continue to do what I do best: I'll write whatever the hell I want, whenever I want. I don't need this to stay focused on my writing goals.

Will I continue to sneak in one final first draft in November on my own? I'm not sure yet.

Well, like I said at the beginning, I just wanted to share my thoughts about this mess.

P.S. The good news is: I finished writing my novel. ☺️

Tuesday 28 November 2023


Scariest. Book. Ever. (Goosebumps House of Shivers, #1)Scariest. Book. Ever. by R.L. Stine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I found out a new Goosebumps book was released, I wanted to check it out. Of course.

Betty and Billy are staying with Uncle Wendell while their parents go to London. He lives in a house in the woods and collects books. He also owns the scariest book in the world, and there are a lot of people who want to take it off him...

Well, this was a cool little tale that I pretty much read in one sitting. 😁

It starts out with parents who are in such a rush, they dump their kids and dog on the doorstep of an uncle they haven't seen since they were babies. Then the uncle turns out to be more concerned with a book than anything else. And that's not even considering that he takes them into the dangerous woods full of giant animals and insects.

Wait, but that's not all! Because there are several twists and turns that are bound to give you whiplash. LOL. Not to mention that ending!!

This is a lot of fast-paced fun.

View all my reviews

Monday 27 November 2023

DIRTY THIRTY by Janet Evanovich

Dirty Thirty (Stephanie Plum #30)Dirty Thirty by Janet Evanovich
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can't believe the Stephanie Plum series is up to book 30! Wow. It's such an incredible achievement to have written this many books featuring the same main character, plus the family, friends, bad guys, and other zany Trenton residents. But you know what's even better? That after THIS many books, the series is STILL interesting and fresh.

Seriously. An amazing achievement.

When Stephanie is hired by a local jeweller to locate the guy he's convinced stole his diamonds, she accepts. But she doesn't realise that nothing is what it seems, and as she follows the clues, it only leads to more mystery...

So, what can I say about this awesome book? Well, it's another intriguing installment that puts Stephanie in plenty of danger. Her car gets ruined. Her apartment suffers, due to a bunch of different reasons. And she's still having trouble deciding which guy she really wants. It's a tough choice between Morelli and Ranger, which only gets more complicated in this book. 😳

I just love how well Evanovich always manages to weave the dark and dangerous side of things, with the lighthearted fun. I mean, there are SO many hilarious things that happen here. Do I even need to mention Lula and Grendel? Too funny.

Oh, and there's extra Bob content. Who doesn't love that adorable dog? 😅

Anyway, there's a LOT of cool and fun, even dark and nasty, stuff packed into the pages of this novel and I enjoyed every exciting moment.

View all my reviews

Saturday 18 November 2023

WIP: Week Three

Hey! How are you today?

Mostly, this week was cool and productive, but a few frustrating things managed to get in the way. And all of them happen to be because people can be so downright nasty nowadays. There's just too much arrogance and self-important selfish crap going on. There's not enough sympathy and empathy. And that's before considering that most people can't take constructive criticism. 🙄

Also, you might have noticed that I've dropped the 'NaNoWriMo' from my blog post subject line. That's not by accident, it's very much intentional. The other day I heard some disturbing news about their message boards, a moderator, and the staff who didn't care that teenagers were being groomed. It's so gross and I want nothing to do with this anymore, which is such a shame for someone who's been taking part for years.

If you want to know a bit more about what's going on, here's an informative video about everything.

Anyway, here's this week's word count:
  • Monday: 47,131w (added 4,299w)
  • Tuesday: 52,126w (added (4,995w)
  • Wednesday: 56,1561w (added 4,035w)
  • Thursday: 62,674w (added 6,513w)
  • Friday: 65,736w (added 3,062w)
Although I reached the 50k target on Tuesday, I kept writing because the story wasn't done yet. 

I actually got to The End last night, but had to go back today to re-read what I wrote because I had to add a few extra details. I also wrote an extra chapter and tidied up a few things. Yay.

I'm very happy with how this story turned out. As usual, there were quite a few surprises and some unexpected messages and character traits that add more depth to the story. I have to admit that it doesn't reflect the initial idea I had, but that's not a bad thing because this violent, toxic story is a much better version. I'm really looking forward to revising this one, but that won't be until next year.

Well, that's about it.

Have an awesome weekend!!

Sunday 12 November 2023

NaNoWriMo: Week Two

Hi! How are you today? 

What's new?

Well, NaNoWriMo is in full swing, and that means that most of my time is spent writing. 

Yep. I'm totally getting lost in this unhinged story and enjoying every minute of it. 😅

I'm at that stage where the scenes are coming fast and I can finally see the end getting closer, somewhere on the horizon. I'm nowhere near The End yet, but I'm definitely heading there and the scenes are piling up inside my head.

Although, I did get the chance to read an excellent ARC. Which was nice because when I'm writing or revising, I usually don't have much reading time.

This is my word count for this week:
  • Monday: 22,162w (added 3215w)
  • Tuesday: 27,214w (added 5052w)
  • Wednesday: 31,276w (added 4062w)
  • Thursday: 37,439w (added 6163w)
  • Friday: 40,858w (added 3419w)
  • Saturday: 41,422w (added 564w)
  • Sunday: 42,832 (added 1410w)
As you can see, I passed the 40k mark. And that also means that my WIP is now over 100 pages. Yay!

So, reaching the 50k target will probably happen sometime next week. Fingers crossed. BUT I'll keep writing until the story is done.

Every time I sit down with my laptop (phone on the weekend) and get typing, something happens in the story that I wasn't expecting. That's always so cool, and I go with the flow. I mean, it's all heading in the same direction I imagined while taking notes, but there are a bunch of unexpected complications and details that pop up when I least expect it.

Writing can be magical sometimes. Especially when you go for a walk and realise that while your original ending was fitting, this new angle is even better. 😁

Okay, that's it for now. I just wanted to check in.

Have a great weekend!!

Thursday 9 November 2023

WHAT HIDES IN THE CUPBOARDS by Cassondra Windwalker

Following a traumatic accident, ceramic artist Hesper Dunn trades life in Chicago for the enchanted deserts of New Mexico. But not all is quaint, and it’s far from what it seems. There’s a mystery buried deep in the heart of her new home.

Love, guilt, and grief demand that Hesper remain within the haunted pueblo. To free herself, she must free the trapped spirits…but the creatures lurking in the shadows are not what they appear. Hesper dares to wade through the murky fog of tragedy to uncover the truth. A truth that will be harder to handle than she ever dared imagine.

The author of this book reached out to me, and I'm glad she did because I enjoyed this immensely. I mean, look at that cover!

Hesper Dunn is a ceramic artist who leaves the city behind to live in the desert after a tragic accident that left her physically and emotionally hurt. But this hacienda in the middle of nowhere isn't the gift she expected it to be. Not after she finds the strange portraits, and starts seeing strange things inside the house that was supposed to save her. Not condemn her...

This is such a great story! The desert location and Hesper's state of mind certainly amped up the creepiness from the very start. And as soon as the portraits hidden inside the cabinets make an appearance, everything gets a whole lot darker.

I love how art and creations are used to amplify the trauma Hesper is suffering. How she starts out so willing to devote her time to making ceramic pieces as well as learning new ways of producing her art. She's even keen on getting her foot in the door of the many galleries in Santa Fe. But as the truth starts to unravel, her real state of mind shadows all of her good intentions.

That's when the dread takes over, and this book takes an expected and horrifying turn.

What Hides in the Cupboards is an atmospheric fever dream with a real sense of location. It twists everything that's presented as familiar, until the reader is as lost as Hesper. A sense of unease worms its way onto every page, slowly revealing what lies beneath the surface.

I really enjoyed this haunting tale!

Sunday 5 November 2023

NaNoWriMo: Week One

Hey! How are you today?

Did you have an awesome Halloween? How was your first week of November?

After taking the spooky month off from writing and revision, it's now time to get stuck into one of my favourite annual writing traditions: NaNoWriMo.

While I didn't actually do any new writing or revise any drafts, I did spend some of October doing a bit of NaNoPrep. Although I have to be honest, this year it took me a little longer to actually settle on a WIP because there were a handful that were trying to get my attention. 😅

But the one that I picked was definitely the loudest.

So, here's how it went:
  • Wednesday: 6,528w
  • Thursday:  11,313w (added 4785w)
  • Friday: 16,294w (added 4981w)
  • Saturday: 17,728w (added 1434w)
  • Sunday: 18,947w (added 1219w)
Well, I think this is a pretty good start to both NaNo and this new story I'm writing.

This is an idea that came to me several years ago. It was one that sounded too big to write at the time, and was also missing a vital piece. Back then I didn't know what that was, so I started a folder on my phone and added inspirational pics, research pieces, and character names. It wasn't until I was walking one day that this vital piece finally hit me. But still, I wasn't ready to write it back then.

When I sat down to consider possible WIPs for this year's NaNo, that's when everything clicked into place. I'm finally ready to tackle this idea that felt too big but now is just the thing I want to spend this month working on. And as you can tell from the word count, it looks like I made the right choice.

And what's this story about? Well, it covers two timelines and at the core it's about the toxicity of friendship when someone is keeping secrets. It's also about anger and the pursuit of getting what you want even though sometimes the person doesn't even know what that is and why they want it.

Yeah, it's a horror story and so far I'm surprising myself with the direction. In a good and twisty, wicked way. 😁

As far as the 50k target goes, I'm pretty sure this novel will be longer than that. But at the moment I'm not sure where it'll end up because it's too early to tell. I'm just having fun following my characters down this rabbit hole.

Well, that's it for now. Just thought I'd post an update.

Have an awesome day!

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