Write Something, You Slacker!

I’m of course referring to myself, who hasn’t updated this blog (or any of my other blogs) for quite some time.

It’s seems, with me at least, novel writing and blogging do not go hand in hand. It’s either one or the other. And since novel writing makes more money (money? ha!), blogging get’s pushed to the side.

So what’s a writing mama like me to do when I get behind schedule?

Why sign up for Nanowrimo, of course!


You all know the drill – 50,000 words in 30 days. 1,666 a day. 69 words an hour (you can write for 24 hours, right?). 1 word every minute. Or something like that.

Since I average about 1,000 words an hour that means about an hour and a half of writing something.

Sure. No problem.


50,000 in one month? Are you cray cray crazy?

Probably. But that’s beside the point. I actually don’t think Nano is all that difficult if you commit.

That it’s in November kinda sucks, because it’s right in the middle of getting ready for Christmas, which as you know, means shopping, decorating your house, and making delicious (fattening) food.

But since you’re a writer, you don’t need food to get fat – just exercising those butt muscles by sitting at your computer for an hour and a half a day [cough – twelve hours on Facebook – cough] is enough to get the same result. And who needs a pretty house when you have Pinterest pictures to cry over? And shopping? Well, even Grandma wants a copy of your latest tentacle dinosaur billionaire romance, doesn’t she? There, shopping done.


Well last I checked, there was no Nano police. No one is going to send you a report with a big ‘F’ on it if you don’t follow the rules to the letter. Besides, there are whole forums for Nano Rebels who jump in with half written books or write whatever they like. The only real criteria for ‘winning’ is that you finish your 50K. And that’s easy (as I’ve just proved above – it’s one measly word every minute).

So you are going to do Nano with me, aren’t you?

Come on, write something – you slacker!


12 books in 12 months (probably not going to happen)

I’ve injured myself.

Too much time hunched over a laptop in bed, and not enough time sitting with correct posture at my desk. My neck hurts, my back hurts, my shoulders hurt. I have a torn rotator cuff shoulder muscle (although that’s from carrying my three-year old and catching her when she jumps off the table).

A few weeks ago I posted that I was writing novellas and had planned on getting out one of these each month. The first two published just fine. But then I changed my mind about length and I’m a quarter way into a novel for my October book.

I figured I’d write 15,000 a week so that after four weeks I’d have a 60,000 word novel.


15,000 words is not going to happen. I need to rest my body.

I can manage 10,000 though, so the October novel will still make deadline. But that means I’m only writing two days a week instead of five. And it will take me five or six weeks (or more?) to write a novel instead of four.

Which means my goal of 12 in 12 is looking less and less likely unless I go back to short stories or novellas. Which I don’t want to do.

So be it. It is what it is. It’s my own fault for slumping and hunching.

Let this be a lesson to you. Look after yourself while you sit at your computer.

Tracey :)

P.S. Here’s some neck exercises to stay limber. Go do some now.

Using Word’s Document Map for Outlining Your Book

I still use Microsoft Word extensively for my writing projects.

But first, I want to point out that this article is not about which writing software is better. I know some die-hard Scrivener fans, and some writers who like the simplicity of a no frills text editor. Writers tend to have strong opinions on their preferred writing tool, but I gotta say, I’m a big believer in just use what you like best. There is no ‘best’ software. I just happen to prefer Word.

If you like Word too, and want to get more out of it, then perhaps this article will be of use (or at least that was my goal for writing it).

Which brings me to main focus – using the Document Map feature in Word to quickly jump around the document from scene to scene or chapter to chapter.

I don’t write linearly – I didn’t with my non-fiction books, and I don’t with my fiction books. I like jumping around and ‘layering’ my books as the moods strikes.

For those that haven’t used this feature before, you can easily turn it on by going to the View tab, and clicking the checklist (it won’t be pink – I just highlighted it here so you can see it more easily).


This will open up a panel on the left hand side of your screen.

If you are in a new document, it will be probably be blank, but if you are in a current working document – depending on how you’ve set up your styles – you’ll see a whole bunch of headings and other notes here.

Here’s what my current WIP’s document map looks like:


You can see fairly clearly that I’ve listed all my chapters sequentially and I’ve also got notes of what happens in the scene, and sometimes other notes including things I still need to do.

How do you get your document map to look like this?

Heading Styles.

As I’m writing the document, I attribute my chapters and notes to different headings.

Chapter 1 (for example) will get the Heading 1 style. Scene description will get heading 2 and sometimes I’ll write extra notes using heading 3.

This is a quick guide of which styles I personally use, although you should play around with it for what works best for you:

Heading 1 attribute: ACT #, Chapter #
Heading 2 attribute: POV, Scene Description, Scene # (if more than one scene per chapter)
Heading 3 attribute: Notes, Word Counts, To Do’s

The hierarchy of the Document Map shows Heading 1’s first, Heading 2’s indented under that, and Heading 3’s indented further again.

You can also open or close anything under the Heading styles using the tiny + or – box next to the main heading. This helps if you have a lot of notes, and just want to skip quickly around to each chapter.

I like using the Document Map so that I can quickly jump around my manuscript by clicking on the left which then brings me to the correct place on the right side of the screen, so I can continue writing.

It’s much better than scrolling through your document trying to navigate to earlier or later chapters which can be a pain for large books. It’s also a good method to see at a glance what’s going on – to see the big picture.

Heading Styles
Heading Styles


You might be wondering by now, what happens to these notes once you’ve finished your manuscript. I delete them.

Using the document map like this is only useful in your drafts (and I keep a few draft versions), so you will need to delete anything that isn’t necessary in your final clean document before you upload to stores.

I do keep the notes in until the very last-minute though. They are even included when my editor goes through it. She likes that she can see a good overview of the book at a glance and says it makes her job easier, too.

Using Commenting to keep track of details.

Another small tip I do is write notes such as character hair color and so on, by using the commenting feature of Word.


 * No laughing at the story – it’s still very rough first draft 😉

Usually I do this for minor characters only (as I prefer to have a separate scene and character document for major characters and locations).

It’s a quick way to find out what hair or eye color you’ve made for one of your characters as you can view all of  your comments at once by opening the Reviewing Pane (from the Review tab). You can either open it in place of the Document Map or at the bottom of your working document.

I hope you’ve found these tips useful for using Word to write your next book.

Happy writing,

Tracey :)

Confessions of a NaNoWriMo Virgin (and October’s Sales)

I will be drinking lots of this, this month.


It seems rather weird that I’d be giving advice about how to tackle National Novel Writing Month seeing as I’ve only just started it and it’s my first time, but hey I’ve written one novel already – I’m like a professional novelist now right?

Yeah okay then – I see your point, but I still think it might be good to compare notes at any rate in the hope it might help someone else.

My plan of attack with Nano is not to think about the 50,000 words (which actually doesn’t scare me that much anyway), but to think of what scenes I need to write each day.

It makes it much more manageable (to me) to think about writing one or two small scene’s, rather than write a whole book.

To make it easy on myself, most of the chapters in the book will be between 2500 – 5000 words each, containing a few scenes of around 1,000 words (or thereabouts – some are shorter some are longer).

I seem to write much better when I have a strong outline and sense of how long I think each scene will run for.  It helps me stay focused and on track.

I’ve just completed Chapter One (which is probably the shortest chapter in the book) and includes three scenes for a total first draft word count of 2,618.  The main characters have been introduced, Ruby (the protag) has spied her love interest (who is now currently in chains – poor fella), and we get a good sense of the story.

All in all a good tension-driven start!

And can I just mention that I’m already totally in love with this novel.  I haven’t even written the good stuff yet (yes there will be s.e.x.) and I already love it.  This job rocks.

October Sales

I think that my last month sales were an anomaly since October’s sales were significantly lower than usual.

I attribute that to a few factors.

  • Apple didn’t update on Smashwords during October (Apple represents a good 35-40% of my overall sales).
  • I hardly did any blogging or promotion (catching up on real life stuff).
  • I haven’t had a new release for some time now (that will change soon once the zombie novel is out of editing, and I kick my hubby’s butt into doing my cover).

There is also the fact that October represents a big publishing time for trad publishers (they release lots of new stuff just prior to Christmas) so there are a lot more new books in October and November to compete with.

But you know I’m still super pumped anyway.  How could I not be – this job (writing) is amazing fun, and I’ve only just started writing novels so it can only get better once they start being released into the wild.

Here’s hoping that your October sales were better than mine, and if you are doing Nano that your word count is coming along swimmingly.  As Dory would say (if fish could write) – just keep writing, just keep writing.

Tracey xx

P.S. Thinking of all my US readers who were affected by Sandy.  Hopefully you all stayed safe.


I’m a NaNoWriMo Virgin

Yes, I’m about to write a love story set in 1943, no it won’t have a dog in it (I don’t think).

It’s true.  I’ve never done NaNoWriMo before and this year I’ve signed up and I’m super excited about it.  The reason I decided to do it was for one reason, and one reason only – it sounded like fun.

What could be more exhilarating than sitting down every day to write a story?

Now I have no illusions that whatever I write during next month will be any good (but perhaps I’ll surprise myself anyway), but who cares.  It will be FUN.

I think I’ve prepared adequately, I’ve done my outline (I even purchased a brand new pretty notepad to do so) and have written the basic plot points I want to cover and a rough guide to where everything goes in the story.  I know most of the characters names (except the male love interest whose name I can’t seem to figure out yet), and how they relate to each other.

It’ll be set in 1943 so I’ve done some research on music, food, clothing etc of that era.

I even purchased Chris Baty’s ‘No Plot No Problem’ (he’s the founder of NaNo) which I’ll be reading alongside the challenge each day.

So I’m as prepared as I can be.  Or at least I think I am.  I’m a  NaNo newbie remember?

And of course if it’s anything like the novel I’ve just finished (yes I really did finish my zombie novel – yah me – it’s currently with my editor) I know that nothing ever goes to plan and characters seem to have a mind of their own.  So really how prepared can you be?

There’s only a week to go and I can’t wait!

Who’s with me?