Camp NaNoWriMo Countdown & Preparation

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Today marks the official 10 day countdown to the April session of Camp NaNoWriMo, and I am pretty amped about participating in the spring this year.

Naturally the biggest decision to make each year is what to write about. For me, this will be Book 5 of the House of Crimson and Clover series so I needed to decide how this story would fit into the greater series, what the plot and importance of the plot would be to the greater series and story, and, of course, who would be the feature characters in this story. Since books 2-4 centered around the Deschanels, I decided to switch to the Sullivans for a change.

To prepare for April, here are some of the things I’ve been doing:

  • Spending a lot of time on the NaNoWriMo forums, both asking and answering questions. These discussions have really helped get my mind moving.

  • Brainstorming with my very patient and very awesome like-minded cousin.

  • Purchased Scrivener with the 50% off coupon so I could use it to try and get organized better early-on in the writing and research process.

  • Created an outline template that I plan to fill in ahead of time instead of just being a “pantser” as I usually am during a NaNo session.

  • Built out another 30-40 individuals on my Deschanel/Sullivan family trees.

  • Researching some of the themes I am exploring in this story, such as necromancy.

 After a ridiculous amount of brainstorming (and brain cramps), I’ve come up with my general spoiler-free synopsis for the project:

Quillan Sullivan, 26, has been a lawyer in his family’s law firm for only a couple of years but already the family is talking about finding a way to remove him. Despite being highly intelligent, he is brash, cocky, and irresponsible and the general opinion is that if he does not learn to focus, he will quickly throw his life away. Although Quillan is an only child, he was not always thus; his twin brother Riley tragically died when he was seven. Quillan has been conversing with Riley ever since. He can do this because possesses the very rare and dangerous skill of necromancy, though he does not know it. He thinks that his conversations with Riley are merely a blessing.

When the sister of Quillan’s best friend returns from years abroad, he is spellbound by her. Estella Broussard (a distant Deschanel cousin) is lovely and mysterious, and he is powerfully drawn to her, though she takes little interest in him. When his father brings in some Deschanel heirlooms that the firm is hired to analyze and assess, Quillan finds a box of old letters and keepsakes and he secretly takes them to Estella, knowing she has a special interest in family heirlooms, hoping to impress her.

Although Quillan finds the letters boring, Estella is instantly caught up in their mystery: love letters, written in code, telling tales of magic, prophecy, and curses. Quillan continues to help her try to solve the mysteries of the letters in hopes to grow closer to her, but when they discover a false bottom in the letter box that reveals another layer to the mystery, suddenly the exercise in curiosity becomes extremely dangerous.

As Quillan and Estella grow closer to solving these mysteries- and grow closer to one another- Riley’s conversations to Quillan become tense and filled with strong warnings…warnings to stay away from the letters and, more importantly, Estella. He insists to Quillan that his very life depends on it.

For anyone else participating feel free to add me as a buddy!

Any other fun things writers are doing to prep for April?

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19 thoughts on “Camp NaNoWriMo Countdown & Preparation

  1. I’ve signed up for camp and I’m really excited. I’ve been working on my outline and I think I’ve actually got something to work with. I will be a newbie so I’m using this as a challenge to myself and a learning experience.

    I will have to check out the forums…I haven’t had a chance to yet!

    1. Awesome! You’ll love it…its a great way to challenge yourself and at the end have something substantial to work with. I highly recommend the forums…there’s tons of resources in there, and a lot of people will post asking for expertise on a topic, or help with a plot that’s stuck, or a one-dimensional character.

      What’s your nano username? I’ll add you.

  2. Oh man the book sounds awesome, and I haven’t even got to read the first yet. I am pretty excited myself for NaNo, and already have a pretty good start to my outlining and the main important characters. Mine won’t be a series and I won’t need a family tree like you. Seems you have an awesome start.

    1. This is definitely the most prepared I’ve ever been for a NaNo session…my prep usually consists of “Idea? check,” and that’s about it! But once I decided to make all the books into a series I realized I actually had to be more regimented about it or things would be all over the place.

      What are you planning to write about?

      1. Good timing, I just saw your other post about it and sent you a reply. Surf the nano forums! The Plot Doctoring forum has been so awesome that I’ve been camped out there for days.

      2. I am having trouble following how it is set up on there, but I should do okay after some browsing.

      3. I have a question have any tips for picking a setting, like place that is real. How did you do it for your books?

      4. For me, setting was the only piece I actually didn’t need to think about. All of my stories are set in New Orleans (except one, which is partially set in Maine). I wanted a location where I could set a current day story in a place that gave me an old world, mysterious feel…New Orleans feels like a city that still holds the charms and feelings of another era, and that was perfect for me.

        For the one that was set in Maine, I chose the location after living in Maine for a year. I was really fascinated by all of the small island communities off the mainland (and I’ve always been fascinated with New England culture anyway), so I thought it would be a fun location.

        I think partly what you need to decide is how much of a role setting and location plays in your story. If not much, then where you pick can be anywhere, so long as you know enough about it to keep your facts straight (and even so, that’s what the internet is for). If you want setting to be a big part of your novel- the way I do, where setting literally wraps itself around the story- then you need to decide what the tone of your story is. From there, you can pick places that evoke that tone through setting.

      5. okay that makes sense. I know that is one of my biggest struggles. I always thought that setting was like a huge thing, and I guess it is if my story needs to it be. So I don’t probably need to focus on setting in the very beginning. I need to know my story and then work the setting into it not know my setting and work my story into it. Thank you. To be honest setting is usually always my downfall for anything i have tried to write in the past.I obviously still haven’t gotten past those issues.

      6. You might even find it easier to just invent a place…if in doubt (and if your setting isn’t absolutely critical to either the mood or the storyline) is to invent a town or a place (like a fictional city in a real state) and fill it with things that feel familiar to you. It is true that when you “write what you know” it will ring more truthfully…but you don’t necessarily have to, either, if you’re determined to explore something new that fits your story better.

      7. that might work. Thanks hope i am not bothering you. My last question… I believe is about book covers. Did you design your own or have someone else do it? How did you go about it?

      8. Of course you’re not bothering me 🙂

        When I was researching self-publishing, what I came across consistently was the importance of having a professional book design. I know as a reader whenever I see a crappy cover it’s a huge turnoff for me (and it’s quite possible the book is great, but I’d never know). So I knew I wanted to have it professionally done, but on the other hand, I also knew that I didn’t want to pay and arm and a leg for it because I didn’t know if I’d ever see the ROI on it. So I put the feelers out with some of my friends and one of them referred me to her brother-in-law who is a graphic designer. He had done other book covers before, and his work looked solid, so we talked about my project and I hired him. I paid a very reasonable fee for his work (definitely a lot less than what I would expect for the level of professionalism and talent I received), and he even gave me extras like files I could use on social media, and for marketing, etc. The experience with him was so positive, and the results were so good, that I’ll be using him going forward for all my covers if he is still interested in doing them. He also made it easy for me by writing up the contract himself (it clearly states that with what I paid him I am now free to use the design for the purposes of publication of the book, so I am protected), and taking care of any other details (like, for instance, we needed a HQ image for the cover and he worked with a guy to get free permission to use the stock image). It was a positive experience. I can refer you to him if you’re ever interested.

        In general, there are a lot of graphic designers out there willing to do this, and a lot of them are willing to do it for less than what the going rate would be so that they can obtain more work for their portfolio. There are also those who would charge far more than their work is worth…so the best way to go about it is to research rates, and make sure to get a good look at the work of the designer before working with them. I think its best to go with someone who has experience specifically with book covers, too, as the specification details needed for a proper cover are very important.

      9. wow lots of info to take in. I have awhile before I will need to worry, but it’s nice to have an idea on how to go about it. Thanks so much.

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