Nanowrimo & the Therapeutic Benefits of Writing

I’ve always been a bit of a bookworm, and found a love for writing when I was about 10 years old and asked to write a short story as part of a school project. Around the same time, I also wrote a poem which would go on to be published in a local anthology four years later. Writing is a part of who I am, and while I always dreamed of becoming a published author, it certainly wasn’t something I actively focussed on. In fact, I set my sights on becoming a vet and studied the sciences at school. They say “life has a plan” though, and Life didn’t want me to be a vet.

I was bullied at secondary school to the point that I changed schools when I was 14. “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you” was something I heard a lot and a big fat lie. Words do hurt, and they can scar. I found solace in my writing. Poetry became my outlet. It was a way for me to express my emotions, without having to physically speak. Roll forward to 2006, and life was a whirlwind. I got married, moved to the Channel Islands, got pregnant, miscarried, got pregnant again, and in 2007 had my daughter 8 weeks early by emergency C-section. To say my mental health was fragile would be an understatement, and yet again I found myself turning to poetry as a way of expressing everything I was feeling.

My daughter’s pregnancy and birth was traumatic to say the least, and I was put on bed rest as part of my recovery. I didn’t know anyone on Jersey, my daughter was still in hospital, and my husband was working 60 hours a week. My laptop became my best-friend. I found a “content mill” website, which is a website that essentially takes your work and uses it to fill other websites, paying on a “pay-per-click” basis. Through that, I discovered Nanowrimo.

Nanowrimo, or National Novel Writing Month was launched in the 1990s as a way to encourage people to finish a novel. The challenge is to write 50,000 words during the month of November. It’s grown so much that there are factions around the world, who meet up on a regular basis. It has made writing a social event. I decided to have a go at writing a novel, and at some point I wrote a God-awful murder mystery called “Murder at Meadowview”. I couldn’t get a publisher, so I went through KDP and self-published. It’s one of those books that I wish I could remove from all living memory, but sadly as is the way of the internet, it has been published and so therefore, it is around forever.

But something good did come out of it. I realised I could finish a novel. And writing a novel is just as therapeutic as poetry. Since then, I’ve taken part in Nanowrimo every single year, and every single year I’ve completed a novel. My skill as a writer has evolved, and I’ve also been lucky enough to get deals with some great publishers. You can find my erotic and contemporary romance books HERE and my urban fantasy book HERE.

Recently, I was told by a friend that I’m very good at putting on a brave face and getting on with things, even when the whole word is falling apart around me. The past eight weeks in particular have been absolutely awful for a variety of reasons. The thing is, as much as I love a chat and a gossip, and I’m happy to talk to anyone about anything (I’m not ashamed of my mental health problems), I rarely just go and tell someone. Part of my anxiety is feeling like I’m putting on other people. I’ve had cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and talking therapy, and they were both very beneficial, but I find I get more out of writing.

At the beginning of this year, I decided to embark on a holistic journey, studying aspects of Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAMs). Journalling is a very real therapy that was touched on when I did my own CBT and talking therapies. It’s an act of writing down your thoughts, particularly those you find difficult to talk about. It’s also a creative writing technique often used by writers during Nanowrimo, who are suffering with writer’s block. By sitting in a quiet room, perhaps with some calm music playing or incense burning, anything to get you into a meditative state, you put pen to paper and write whatever comes to mind.

For me, writing has now become a career rather than something therapeutic. I’ve completed my degree – not in science as I’d previously hoped, but in Arts & Humanities, as life intended. And while I am in a better place now, my mental health is still something I struggle with on a daily basis. Most days are good, and I can focus on writing novels for everyone to enjoy. I still get bad days though, and on those, I turn to poetry and pour my emotions into my laptop.

Poetry Written

Begin with a word, now choose another,

be the word’s mistress, don’t be its lover.

Bend it and twist it, do what you will,

out of your fingertips, let the words spill.

Find the words meaning and find it again,

snap it and crush it, and kill it and when,

you’ve found the right word that you want to use,

scratch it. Start again. Adore the abuse.

Find your beginning, a middle and end,

find some nouns and verbs and let them all blend.

Mix them all into a witch-worthy brew,

just leave them to be, and let the words stew.

Abandon your ink blots, start a new page,

unleash your dragons, your love, and your rage.

Once you are finished, you’re done and you’re through,

kill all of your darlings, then start anew.

Let the ink flow, until your pen’s run dry,

there’s nowhere to go, no tears left to cry.

Have you revealed yourself, hidden away,

seen the bleak night turn into bleak day?

Family forgot you even existed.

Are all those scrounged words, humbled and twisted?

And have you chewed off less than was bitten?

The answer’s yes. It’s poetry written.

 

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Out Now—False Start (Book 3, The False Series) by Meli Raine (@meliraineauthor)

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Release date:  January 15, 2019

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Book Blurb:

This isn’t how my life is supposed to end.

Then again, a case of mistaken identity got me here. No one is ever who we think they are. Especially my kidnapper, a man whose entire life is designed to deceive.

Powerful people want my rescuer to die. I’m just a lure. A pawn. An object.

But objects hold meaning. Emotions attach themselves without logic.

Like love.

I now know that Duff will do everything to protect me.

If he gets here in time. And if I can hold on long enough.

Because my body can only handle so much. Pushed to the limits, it’s finally giving out. Giving way.

Giving up.

I know Duff, though.

He never will.

Blink.

Read the stunning conclusion to USA Today bestselling author Meli Raine’s False series, told from both Lily and Duff’s points of view.

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FALSE MEMORY (Book 1)

Now Available

Apple Books Exclusive:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/false-memory/id1387687477?mt=11

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40405827-false-memory

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/books/false-memory-by-meli-raine

 

FALSE HOPE (Book 2)

Now Avaialble

Apple Books Exclusive:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/false-hope/id1421994196?mt=11

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42088265-false-hope

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/books/false-hope-by-meli-raine

 

FALSE START (Book 3)

Apple Books Exclusive:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/false-start/id1421999168?mt=11

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42088271-false-start

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/books/false-start-by-meli-raine

 

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Author Bio:

Meli Raine writes romantic suspense with hot bikers, intense undercover DEA agents, bad boys turned good, and Special Ops heroes — and the women who love them. Meli rode her first motorcycle when she was five years old, but she played in the ocean long before that. She lives in New England with her family.

Social Media Links:

Website:  http://meliraine.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/meliraine

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/meliraineauthor

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/meli-raine

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13536295.Meli_Raine

Newsletter:  http://eepurl.com/beV0gf

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Excerpt:

“What about our future?”

“Do we have one?”

I love her strange combination of shy and bold. “Yes.”

Her smile is a treasure. “Good.”

There isn’t much to say after that, so we don’t, until I park at the restaurant and turn to her, needing a kiss. Making out in the front seat of a big SUV has its perks.

Namely, plenty of room.

“Look, we’re steaming the windows!” she giggles.

“Great. More privacy,” I say as I go in for another kiss.

Breathless, she stops me. “You’re getting me riled up.”

“That’s my line, babe.”

“And we’re late for our reservations.”

“So what–”

My phone buzzes.

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Release blitz organized by Writer Marketing Services.

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P is for… #Procrastination. #FridayFeeling #AmWriting #AmEditing

It’s Friday. Both my children are off sick (again), and I am full of cold myself. My ears hurt, my throat hurt, and I cried when a neighbour popped in to bring me teabags. It’s safe to say that I am not in the mood to do any kind of work at all. But, the joys of being self-employed mean that if I don’t work, then I don’t get paid. So, work I must.

Yesterday, I finally finished part one of a five-year project.

Yes, for five long years, possibly more, my brain has been overflowing with the idea for an epic high fantasy series. I’ve spoken about it before, several times, but now it’s more than a plot bunny digging a warren through my mind. It is a real-life thing, and the first part is a complete first draft.

end of part one

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I have many opening chapters, and eventually gave up and decided to concentrate on dialogue, creating a script for it instead. So, while I have a first draft, and it currently stands at around 350 minutes (five and a half hours) long – if it were to be made into a film – it is not the first draft of a novel.

As a High Fantasy series, it will be written under my pen name, C.V. Leigh, and I know I should be concentrating on either turning this into a novel, or getting on with the next bit. But, my thoughts are fuzzy, my ears are ringing, and I am starting to panic over Brexit and food shortages. I cannot concentrate on anything writing-related.

I’ve also started several other projects over the past month, including re-opening RW Literary Services. I’ve found that I have a habit of playing with Photoshop when I should be writing. It’s my procrastination method. I either read a book, watch Netflix, or take Hubby’s photos from his Glamour Monkey site, and photoshop them. I’ve been watching YouTube videos to learn new techniques, and I think I’m doing quite well!

Copyright 2019 Glamour Monkey

All Rights Reserved

And, I’ve started looking on other sites to find images that I’m able to use, turning them into possible book covers:

I’m aware that they’re not great, but I am still learning. I still procrastinating. (Book covers are available for sale if you want one – email RWLiteraryServices@gmail.com)

When I’m not playing with Photoshop, reading, or watching cosy-mystery movies, I’m panicking. I really need to stop watching the news, but I’m glued. With all the worry over Brexit, Mum-Me has started stocking up on anything we import and blogging about it.

Blogging – more procrastination. I’m working on re-establishing #TirgearrTuesday at the moment, and have set up several posts ready to share the work of myself and other Tirgearr authors. But what I really should be doing is writing.

Or editing.

Or something other than procrastinating…

Happy Friday!

Social media and the spotlight: Advice for new authors

Social media is a necessary evil.

As an author, I rely heavily on social media to reach out to readers. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are my preferred sites, but there are others that occasionally visit. Anyone who is friends with me on Facebook will know that my page is open all day, hovering in the background, distracting me from writing. Publishers suggest that authors, particularly debut authors, set up social media accounts so that we can interact with the public, and put ourselves in the spotlight. They also strongly suggest that you use a Facebook page rather than an account, so that your account can remain personal. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work like that.

Once you put yourself in the public eye, your life is under scrutiny. I’m not a best-selling author (yet), and I am by no means famous or have celebrity-status of any kind, but I still have to be careful about what I post on my personal pages, because it can come back and bite me in the backside. And that’s exactly what happened yesterday. Not to me, but to another author.

This particular author made some hateful comments regarding the LGBT+ community, saying she’d “beat the gay” out of her sons. She bragged about how she was raised by a racist, homophobic member of the biker community, and that’s how she’d raised her sons – to think that it’s wrong to be in love with someone of the same gender, or a different race. This is a woman who also calls herself Wiccan with Native American blood. She made all of these comments on her personal page.

I’m not friends with this woman, in fact I blocked her as soon as her name came into the light because I have no time for hate like that. The only reason I found out about it is because someone who was friends with her took a screen shot of the comments and posted them publicly.

This woman, an author, has now lost numerous “friends”, contacts in the industry, and readers due to comments she made on a private account.

I have no sympathy with her. We must all pay the price of our actions. However, it made me think…

My publishers have said use a page to connect with readers, keep your account private. Do not make statements on your page that could deter readers, keep it on your private account. Yet, there is nothing private about social media. This woman made those comments on her private account, and readers still saw them.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. I’ve blocked other authors who have made similar comments. I know of other authors who have had their careers destroyed because of one status update. I know of authors who have lost traditional publishing contracts because of rants on social media.

So, my advice to any debut author is this: Make those accounts. But don’t for one second think that your private account is private. Be mindful of the comments you make. Anyone can take a screenshot and share it. We all have bad days. We all have days where we need to rant. But, it will only take one inappropriate status update to label you as a “badly behaving author” and ruin your career.

Coming Soon: A Sneak Peek #amwriting #romance

A few months ago, I announced that I was taking a break from writing romance to concentrate on my fantasy books and pen name. Well…

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LATER is another erotic romance that surrounds the blossoming relationship between Claudia Martins and her boss, Elliot Shepherd. They’ve worked together for five years, and have become close friends. After her boyfriend cheats on her, Claudia turns to Elliot for support. But, she’s been offered a job with a rival company – one that comes with the opportunity to climb the corporate ladder and make something of herself, and one that means leaving Elliot behind.

Would you pick a man over your dream job?

EXCERPT:

She stared at the computer screen and the letter that stared back. Her finger hovered over the mouse; the white arrow-shaped cursor sat on top of the button marked ‘PRINT’. She took a deep breath and clicked it. The office printer whirred into action. It groaned loudly at having to work so late at night, blinking a single green light into the darkness. Claudia stood up when it finished and retrieved the paper. She folded it into a neat rectangle and pushed it into an envelope, scribbling Elliot’s name on the front. She went into his office and placed it on the keyboard of his computer. It was an impersonal way of handing in her notice, but she couldn’t face giving it to him in person, and it had to be done.

Her phone sang out, alerting her that she had an hour until Charlie’s gig started. It was more time than she needed. She checked her bag to make sure the VIP pass was still in her wallet.

“You’re working late again.” The sound of his deep voice made her jump. She glanced up to see Elliot leaning against the doorframe. He was still dressed in the same dark trousers and white shirt he’d been wearing all day, although he’d shed the jacket and tie. The top two buttons of his shirt were undone, and his sleeves had been rolled up to his elbows, yet he still managed to look smart and professional, where a lesser man would have looked unkempt.

Claudia’s breath caught when she remembered the letter she’d left on his desk. She’d hoped that he wouldn’t find it until morning, when the office was a little bit busier, and he wouldn’t be able to make too much of a scene. “I…” She stumbled over her words, her tongue tied into knots, searching for a reasonable lie.

“Go home,” he said, folding his arms across his chest. “Get ready for Charlie’s gig. I don’t want him blaming me for keeping you here.”

She tucked a stray hair behind her ear and felt her cheeks heat. Standing up, she hoicked her bag onto her shoulder. “You’re right,” she said. “I’ll see you in the morning.” She walked towards the door, but he blocked her path. He had a good eight or nine inches on her, and she had to glance up to look at him. Elliot stepped to the side. She felt his stare burn into her neck as she walked out of the office. She wondered if he’d already found the letter, if he knew that she planned on leaving Aries Limited within the next four weeks.

‘Later’ is due to be released at the end of October.

www.charlottehowardauthor.co.uk