National Novel Writing Month is in full swing. In case you haven’t heard of this program, let me explain. It’s designed to encourage those who have always wanted to write a novel to push through and get the words on the paper. The goal is 50,000 words in 30 days, which is a smokin’ pace. There’s no revising, no prettying things up. It’s just a giant shove to get the story out.

I have to confess I’ve never signed up for it–partly because I believe you have to post your final output (please correct me if I am wrong!) and since my work is contracted before I write it, I’d be in violation of my agreements with my publishers to post that much of it. However, I applaud the ideals of NaNoWritMo. Several of my friends have used it to jump start a new project and my guest today, Jean Viola Ryan, is here to share her experience with it. (Some of you may remember Jean because she’s been a Red Pencil Thursday volunteer!)


Thanks for having me, Mia. National Novel Writing Month is going strong. Congrats to everyone attempting to write 50,000 words in the next 30 days. It’s not easy, especially over the Thanksgiving holiday. I did my first NaNoWriMo in 2007. We traveled to my in-laws for Thanksgiving. The whole clan was there, including all 3 of my husband’s brothers and their families, as well as aunts and uncles. The table stretched into the living room. I worked diligently the week before to get extra words so I could take the day off, but I warned Hubby that I would be writing while at his folks. We had bought me a laptop so I could write anywhere.

The next day I woke up with a 103 degree fever, but I didn’t have time to be sick. I had a novel to write. I was a Writer and I needed to write. I had been writing every day before that, so writing had become a habit. It takes 3 weeks for something to become a habit. Only 5 days to lose it. I wasn’t about to lose it.

There was no way I could write with all of clan Ryan happily socializing, especially when my concentration wasn’t good because I was sick. Fortunately, the library was open. I drove my sick-butt to the library and pecked out my word count. When Hubby found out how sick I was he said, “I don’t know if this means you are committed or should be committed.”

I didn’t write 50,000 words that year. I wrote close to 60,000. At the time, I knew next to nothing about writing. It took me several years to shape it up, but eventually, it became The Mark of Abel, my debut novel out December 21 from MuseItUp Publishing. I’m not even sure how much of those original 60,000 words are left.

They say you need to write one million words before you are published. NaNoWriMo is a good place to start those. It will help you build a habit that will serve you well long after we change the calendar. It will give you war stories so you can motivate yourself when your muse goes on vacation. BICHOK  – butt in chair, hands on keyboard.

The Mark of AbelYou can learn more about Jean Viola Ryan and The Mark of Abel at You can find her at Facebook at

Blurb: Lucifer plans to use a frustrated artist to return to heaven, but falling in love with her reawakens the compassion that got him expelled.

Coming this December from MuseItUp Publishing.


Thanks for dropping by, Jean! I’m excited to share your debut title with my reading friends.


My Lady Below Stairs

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Leave a comment or question for Jean or me and some lucky random commenter will receive my Christmas novella My Lady Below Stairs in their choice of Kindle or Nook format.

It’s the story of a scullery maid who resembles her mistress well enough to impersonate her at a grand Christmas Ball–where the real lady is expecting a proposal from a certain viscount! But the head groom who loves her isn’t about to let that happen. Booklist calls the mistaken identity and mishaps in this tale “worthy of Shakespeare!”



10 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo

  1. Linda says:

    Congrats on the release of your book Jean! I could never be a writer, I have zero imagination (among other things) & I’m always in awe of those who can/do write successfully! Thank goodness for all of you; that I can read of the worlds & stories you create.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      I bet you have a good imagination, Linda. After all, you’re a reader. Reading is not a passive activity. You have to bring something to the experience and that something is YOUR imagination. ;-) We may get you started, but you have to construct those fictional worlds based only on ink on a page. Give yourself more credti!

  2. Barbara Britton says:

    Hi Jean and Mia,

    I’ve never done NaNo but I do focus more on writing in November because of all the hoopla. There’s a writing buzz in the air.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      That’s one of the reasons I enjoy writers’ conference, Barbara. Being with creative people tends to rub off.

  3. Hi Jean – Thanks for sharing your experience with NaNo! I had ambitious plans to do NaNo 2 years ago, and ended up cranking out all of 2 pages. Part of the problem was that the project was not one that I was originally intending to write, but rather one that I made up just to do for NaNo. This year, I’m doing one that I’ve been noodling around in my head for a little while…so, I’m a little bit more excited about this one. I’ve already more than doubled what I wrote last time. I’m a slow writer, and 1,667 words/day is a bit too ambitious for me…but, I figure that even if I write one word, it’s one more word than I had before. I know of one person who has used NaNo to finish a WIP. You’re not supposed to do that, technically…but, nobody really knows what you’re working on…so, why not? If it helps you get cranking, I say go for it! It’s always inspirational to hear about NaNo projects that have eventually been published…thanks for sharing your story!

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Don’t disparage yourself if you can’t meet a certain word count. A writer’s creative output isn’t like a spigot that can be turned on and off at will. However, if you set a goal, you’re more likely to meet it.

      When I’m working on something I aim for 2K words a day, 10K a week. I try to take weekends off to recharge my imagination’s batteries a bit and spend time with my family. After all, if you have no life, you’ll soon have nothing to write about. ;-)

    2. Jeanie Ryan says:

      This October I taught a workshop at the Muse Online Writers Conference about prepping for NaNo. I firmly believe in using October to get my story idea down and to make sure I know my characters. I have a ring of note cards that have some of my scenes down. Then each day I look at what I need to accomplish and tell my muse to play.

  4. Debbie says:

    I am NaNoing this year. Last year was my first attempt and I did manage to hit the 50,000 goal, but I didn’t know there was a final step. To receive credit for completion, participants must copy their projects into an application that counts words only and nothing is read or seen except for what is posted on your member page – title, synopsis, writer bio . . .

    Congratulations, Jean. I’m intrigued by the title of your novel – My maiden name is Cain so how could I not :)

    I had started a different project last year and wrote the first chapter, but my work-in-progress demanded a new direction. I am writing book two for this NaNo project, so thanks ladies for my coffee break!

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Excellent, Debbie. Thanks for sharing. Looks like I might be able to participate in NaNo after all if nothing is ever visible to others.

      Tell me, have you ever downloaded the WRITE OR DIE software? The idea of having my hard-won words erased before my eyes if I don’t keep my fingers moving makes me want to weep.

      1. Jeanie Ryan says:

        Mia, you can even use your word processing program to change what you write to garbelydygook and stick that into their word count program. Word has the option and so does Scrivener. All NaNo cares about it number of words. That can be figured out with random characters instead of actual words.

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