I doubt this will be my last post of the year (I certainly hope not!), but I thought it was as good a time as any to look back at what I’ve done this year.

That’s right: I was catching up on my Word Count Countdown spreadsheet and realized just how much I’ve gotten accomplished since Jan. 17.

  • 185,287 words written
  • Wrote one complete series-length manuscript (during NaNoWriMo), finished up one that started the year 1/3 finished, expanded and edited two others; and wrote about 1/3 of my second single title
  • Sent out countless query letters and got a few nibbles; haven’t landed an agent yet, though.
  • Finaled in the FCRW Beacon contest (waiting to hear on the final results).
  • Prepped two Golden Heart entries (one in single title contemporary, one in series contemporary)
  • Started — and finished — NaNoWriMo
  • Volunteered to judge the GH (am waiting for a judging packet now)

I feel like I’m finally on my way. And I owe it all to the encouragement of my NARWA sisters, the gals at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood and, of course, Jennifer Ashley, the speaker who somehow lit a fire under my butt at the January NARWA meeting.

Thanks, guys. May we meet on bookstore shelves!

Uh-oh. I think I’m suffering from a case of the “post-novel depression” my friend Mallory writes about.

That’s right. I went to my local Starbucks this morning when the Boyfriend headed off to tennis. I was all psyched to get back to writing. After taking a week off post-NaNo, I needed to write again.

Or so I thought.

I sat at the Bux for about two hours and managed to write … all of 200 words.

Aargh.

I could blame it on the fact that I stopped work on Beth & Cody’s story in the middle of a scene. I had a hard time picking it back up, having absolutely no idea where I’d originally intended it to go. (And I’m not sure I much like the new direction.)

Oh well. That’s 200 words I didn’t have this morning … and tomorrow is another day. Maybe I’ll eke out another 200 words (especially if I finish this scene and move on).

Guess I’m an overachiever: I hit my NaNo goal tonight.

The story’s not quite finished, though. I probably have another 5K to write. For a few moments, however, I’m going to revel in the accomplishment.

That’s it for now. After writing a couple thousand words  today, I’m fresh out. I’ll leave you with this sight worth  celebrating:

It’s been more than 24 hours and I’m still not over the excitement of learning I’m a finalist in the First Coast Romance Writers Beacon Contest for unpublished writers. (You can see the proof here, in the list of finalists.)

This is especially exciting because it’s my first-ever contest final. Strangely enough, I almost didn’t enter the Beacon. I was already busy thinking about the Golden Heart. But when I saw the deadline had been extended and they were looking for entries in the category I had a manuscript ready in, I decided, “What the heck? Why not?” I had some extra money to pay the entry fee — and I’m glad I did.

The timing couldn’t have been much better: I got the call as I was walking out of the post office, right after shipping off my two GH entries (one of them being “Beauty and the Ballplayer.”)

When my phone started ringing, I almost didn’t answer it because I didn’t recognize the number. (Ah, the wonder of caller ID.) But, being certain it wasn’t a bill collector, I went ahead and picked up the call.

The first thing I did after getting off the phone — and squealing with excitement — was call our chapter president. Then I called another writer friend to share the good news … I also left the Boyfriend a voicemail and posted the news on Twitter and Facebook. I wanted to share it with the world — or at least my little piece of it.

Thanks to everyone who gave me their congratulations so quickly.

What’s next? The Beacon gives finalists a little time to revise before entries are sent to the final judges. I got my judges’ score sheets last night and have had a chance to start digesting the comments. Most were very complimentary … I guess that’s what happens when you’re a finalist! 🙂

I’m having a tough time switching out of NaNo mode to think about revising, though. I’m going to try to do a big push to finish NaNo in the next couple of days, giving me a few extra days to work before the revisions are due on Dec. 3.

I can do it — less than 10,000 words to go! (We’re not going to talk about the fact that I’ve had writer’s block today. That’s only a temporary problem. Heading to the Bux in the morning to get some heavy-duty writing done while the Boyfriend’s at work. I actually think better at Starbucks, I think.)

I’ve been a busy, busy writer today.

Not only did I log a few more than the NaNo-recommended 1,667 words today, I read through both of my Golden Heart entries. They’re as good to go as they’re going to get, meaning it’s time to print those puppies out and pop them in the mail.

Of course, reading them has made me realize that a lot of what I’m churning out this month for the NaNo is crap. Yes, I said it: Crap.

*Deep breath*

I just need to remind myself that the GH entries aren’t first-draft material. I’ve read, re-read and polished those things multiple times. Of course they’re going to be heads and shoulders above the first draft I’m writing now.

If they’re not, I’m in trouble. 😉

The gals over at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood reminded me that time’s running out to get my Golden Heart entries mailed off.

Yes, the deadline is Dec. 2 … but in order to use snail mail instead of a more expensive method of delivery, I probably ought to visit the post office before Thanksgiving.

That means I need to take a day (or at least part of a day) off to re-read my entries one more time and then prep them for the mailbox.

Wow. I really should have done this before I started NaNo. Even though I’m still slightly ahead in my word count, I don’t want to take a lot of time off. I’d love to remain ahead … it’s a nice change from last year, when I was behind the entire month and didn’t even finish.

I’m only scheduled to work a half-day Sunday, so I’ll set aside part of the day to reading the entries and printing entries/synopses for the GH judges.

Now, to get money for postage before Friday (my next payday) …

Forget dreaded Week 2 — I need a cheerleader to drag me through Week 3 here.

As expected, I’m adding to my NaNo word count much more slowly now that I’ve run into the “sagging middle” of my story.

I’m not giving up, though … and I definitely plan to finish. It’s just not coming quite as easily now.

Remember the trouble I was having getting Kenny and Kristi to do the deed?

Well, I finally managed to get them into bed — yes, I was writing @ Starbucks at the time — and now I can’t seem to write them OUT.

A NaNoWriMo write-in begins in less than 20 minutes at Barnes & Noble, so I’ll do it … but it might not be pretty.

I added only a couple hundred words to my total on Friday. (Took the day off to run errands and do my usual payday shopping. Hit the new Super Walmart after work last night … at 1 a.m. it was super silent and empty. I got to browse to my heart’s content!)

Isn’t that a song title?

More importantly, it’s where my NaNo novel is as of tonight. Yes, I crossed the 25,000-word mark … important because 25,000 is half of 50,000. See, Ma? Even though I’m a writer, I can do math! 😉 That’s important because it means I’m halfway finished.

My stats, so far:

  • Words Written Today — 2233
  • Suggested Daily Word Count — 1667
  • Cumulative Word Count — 25164
  • Current Day — 11
  • Suggested Cumulative Word Count — 18334
  • Average Words per Day — 2288
  • At This Rate You Will Finish On — Nov 22 (Oh, if only I could keep up this pace and finish before Thanksgiving!)
  • Days Remaining — 19
  • Total Words Remaining — 24836 (less than I’ve already written …) 😉
  • Words per Day to Finish on Time — 1308

Pretty nice, eh?

I keep comparing this year’s experience to last year’s, though. In 2009, I signed up for the NaNo for the first time with the intention of writing 40,000 words to finish my 90,000-word manuscript. By the end of November, I’d only written about 25,000 words.

While that was 25,000 words I didn’t already have — and I finished that MS a couple of weeks later, before Christmas — I didn’t get as much done as I’d hoped.

Tonight, I sit here having already written as much as I did all month long last year. It’s a heady feeling, but a little worrisome all the same.

Is what I’m writing now any good? Or am I writing too quickly, meaning I’ll have to go back and throw three-quarters of it out when I start editing?

Maybe my speed has something to do with starting with a blank slate. Sure, Kenny and Kristi have been bouncing around in my head for years, but I only wrote one scene in which they made an appearance — and that was told from someone else’s POV (Kenny’s brother Brad, the hero in my first book).

Or maybe I’m just in better (writing) shape this year. I have been putting in a lot of practice since January. (More than 120,000 words written since Jan. 19 — and that’s without my NaNo count.)

On the plus side, Kenny & Kristi finally did the deed today. (And yes, I wrote the scene @ Starbucks. Oh, if anyone peeked over my shoulder at the screen, they would have been embarrassed … Or maybe I would have been embarrassed. Someone’s cheeks would have been cherry red, for sure.) 😉

Sometimes, the timing’s just not right.

After trying again — unsuccessfully — to get Kenny and Kristi to cooperate with my plan, I decided they just weren’t ready yet.

I moved past it, getting them off the couch. Now the story’s flowing right along. I already have 1,000+ words for the day. Hope to get another couple hundred before bed tonight.