National Novel Writing Month

If you follow me on Facebook, then recently you might have noticed status updates like:

Today I poisoned someone, broke someone else’s leg, and convinced someone to walk off with the keys to a cabinet holding a murder weapon. ‪#‎WriterLife‬ ‪#‎BestJobEver‬

In case you’re worried, I reconsidered the broken leg and gave the person a mild concussion and a bruised collarbone instead. But I digress.

November is National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo. In 2012 and 2013, I wrote the first and second halves of HAUNTED WOMEN OF THE APPALACHIANS, a collection of thirteen fictional short stories inspired by authentic Appalachian lore.

Writing a Novel versus Writing a Short Story

This year I’m writing a cozy mystery, tentatively titled One Squashed Victory. The story takes place in the fictional town of Treasure Pines, North Carolina, about forty minutes west of the Outer Banks. The characters include:

  • The victim, who steals his neighbor’s gourd and enters it into a contest
  • The amateur sleuth, who by day is a single librarian who isn’t looking for love, but might find it despite her attempts to thwart it
  • The sleuth’s private investigator brother who trusts the local police to find the real killer
  • Their dad, who is accused of the crime of killing his neighbor, the victim
  • A wannabee starlet who dresses as a pirate using eyeliner and his mother’s yoga pants (He’s in his 20’s. It’s not pretty. His day job involves a camouflage tuxedo.)

Writing a novel is different than writing a short story. A short story can let the reader draw their own conclusions about why things happened, or how the plot ends.

Starting the novel was pretty similar to writing a short story. But then I had to keep the momentum going. I’m 14k words into the book and it seems to be going well.

A backstory involving the sleuth and her high school sweetheart tempers the main story line and helps provide some romantic comedy balance to the serious main plot.

It’s Bound to be a Squash-buckling Good Time

Because the murder takes place during Blackbeard Days, there are some puns starting with the title of the book itself.

Those who “win” NaNoWriMo will have written 50k words in 30 days. This is the push many people need to get their novel off the ground. I’ve been kicking this one around since August when I traveled to Baltimore, Maryland to pick up Captain Jack, my crested gecko.

You can read about that in last week’s blog entry, How a Runaway Gourd Vine Led to a Cozy Mystery.

And now here’s a look at the inspiration for the wannabee starlet. Enjoy, and afterward please leave your comments and questions in the area below. I’d love to discuss them with you!

P.S. Thanks very much to my pal Anthony for suggesting the term “squash-buckling” during one of our writing sessions.


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