It’s All About Planning: Autmn, SYTYCW, and NaNoWriMo, Here I Come

AutumnThe calendar says it’s still summer, but Mother Nature disagrees. I feel as if I’ve missed a season this year. After a long winter that wouldn’t let go, we had a very late spring, I blinked and missed summer, and now it’s autumn. I’d heard people say time flew, but I didn’t realize it took an SST.

I took this picture a few years ago just outside of Lake Placid, New York, and it’s always been one of my favorite fall images, the one I use to remind myself that seasons come and go, each with their own beauty. As long as I’m on the right side of the grass, everything’s good.

For more than thirty years, the month of September was the month in which I planned out everything I was going to do for the next school year–which sections of the course I was going to teach when, which novels I’d select to study, even when I’d assign the dreaded culminating activity. I was prepared, organized, ready to meet the challenge of the new school year…and then reality set in–fire drills, guest speakers, high days of absenteeism, board meetings–and all my carefully constructed plans flew out the window.

I think that might be the reason why I write as a pantser and not a plotter–my brain said why do all that work, if everything’s going to change anyway? But even the best pantser has to make some plans, and now that I’ve become an author, those plans surround my writing for the coming seasons. You can’t sell a book unless you write it, and in this time of “edit and revise” for the books I’ve sold, I’ve come to realize I need to be focused on my writing at some point in time. So, today, I prepare myself for two events that have become synonymous with fall–Harlequin’s So Yo Think You Can Write competition, won last year by an author friend Tanya Wright and November’s National Novel Writing Month.

A publishing contract with Harlequin is the Holy Grail of all romance writers, regardless of the sub-genre they choose. It’s the ultimate dream of having your book in print in bookstores, Walmart, and wherever HQN books are sold. It’s also something many of us will never see. I’ve written two books for SYTYCW, and while they didn’t win the contest, they did end up published–The Price of Honor, a Susanne Ebook coverCanadian based historical romance  due out this faJust for the Weekend cover.ll from Solstice Publishing, and Just for the Weekend, a contemporary romance  released last April by Crimson.

Without the incentive of the SYTYCW contest, The Price of Honor might never have been written. It was the very first book I wrote, the one that gave me the courage to write the others. Similarly, Just For The Weekend was my first crack at a book neither historical romance nor romantic suspense.

This year, since romantic suspense appears to be my forte, I’m entering the contest with Hidden Assets, a novel aimed at their romance suspense line, involving a forensic accountant, her ex-husband, a U.S.marshal, and a whole lot of nasty bad guys out to stop her from revealing what she knows about a drug cartel’s bank accounts and the powerful men involved. Did I mention she’ll be dealing with a six-year gap in her memory– a gap that involves not being aware of her divorce or the reasons for it, and an ex determined to win her back and keep her alive at all costs? The synopsis is written, the 100 word pitch is ready to go, and I’m putting the final touches on the first chapter. Wish me luck!

Now, with two books out this fall, The Price of Honor and Coming Home, Book One in the Taking a Chance on Love series I co-write with Misty Cail as Misty Matthews, I know I’ll have final edits to do, too. All for Love, my first attempt at Christian Romance Suspense for Anaiah Press will be ready for the second round of edits, too, and of course, I want to republish my Christmas books, Holiday Magic and The Perfect Choice. This will all take time, but if I budget my days and hours, and focus on the job at hand, I’m convinced I can make it happen and be ready for my biggest challenge of the year: NaNoWriMo.

National Novel Writing Month is the month of November, a time when authors, both published and unpublished, roll up their sleeves to complete a 50,000 word novel in a month. It means writing approximately 1800 words a day, each day until the end of the month. I’ve participated in this event once, and in its boot camp once as well. In Plain Sight coverThe novel I wrote for the April 2013 boot camp was a romance suspense, In Plain Sight, published by Crimson in August of 2013. Last November, I  joined in the Entangled Smack-down and tried my hand at a EchoesofthePast_MEDparanormal/romance/suspense with their Ignite imprint. While my team didn’t win the competition, I did finish the book and won NaNoWriMo. The book I wrote was Echoes of the Past, published by Secret Cravings Publishing in July, 2014.

This year, I’ve joined the Entangled Smack-down again, but I’ve chosen to try my hand at a contemporary romance to fit with their Love Struck imprint. Since my last contemporary has been well-received by readers, I think something along those lines will be good for me as a change of pace after Hidden Assets. The Smack down is an incredible opportunity, not only to get feedback from an Entangled editor, but to connect with other writers. I enjoy the camaraderie of collaborating with others and trying to accumulate enough points so that all the manuscripts created can be chosen. The drawback? During NaNoWriMo, you aren’t supposed to edit as you go along, something I do regularly and found incredibly challenging last year, but rules are rules, and I follow them to a fault.

So, my autumn is planned out. Of course, I’ll still participate in Clever Quickie Monday, Mid Week Tease Wednesday and try my hand at Flash Fiction Thursday, blog regularly as well as host other authors. I’ve also got a number of books in my Kindle and Kobo to read and review, and somewhere in that time frame, I need to remember I’m a wife, mother, and grandmother! I guess I have a busy fall ahead of me! And what about you? Have you set up your fall calendar yet?

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About mhsusannematthews

Finally retired after more than 30 years as a teacher! Now, I get to spend my time gardening, enjoying my grandchildren, and writing. I finally completed the number one item in my bucket list and Crimson Romance published my first novel, Fire Angel, in April 2013. Since then I have sold 24 other manuscripts to date and don't plan to quit writing for a long time yet.
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