Category Archives: NaNoWriMo

My Favorite Hugs and Chocolate Posts

Sometimes, a hug is all what we need – Jesslee Cuizon

What a good year it’s been over here! I though that the best way for me to end off things would be to share a few of the post by the wonderful ladies I share this blog with. If any of the links go to places they shouldn’t, please let me know.

It’s been such a pleasure getting to know all of you this year. I’m giving all of you big virtual bear hugs. I can’t wait to see what next year will bring us.

It’s been an honor, ladies and gentlemen.

Jamie Raintree

My Romance With Writing

Who Cares About Writers?

Instruction Manual for a Full-Time Writer

Why Character Archetypes Aren’t Just About Commercialism

Why I Heart Scrivener for Outlining

How to NaNoWriMo During Thanksgiving

Tonia Marie Houston

Bring Your Shovel

St. Patrick and the Writer’s Trinity

Gift Ideas for the Writer in Your Life

33 And It Feels Divine

Give Your Characters Quirk

Synopsis Fundamentals

Heather L Reid

Learn to Love Writing Queries

Dream Big and Never Give Up: How I Landed a 2 Book Publishing Deal

The Third Perspective: Why I Love Third Person Narrative

The First Editorial Letter: Let the Revisions Begin… Again

Riding the Revision Coaster: Completing My 30 Day Deadline

Rebecca Fields

What If…

Luck of the Irish?

The Magic of Fairy Tales

A World of Ideas

Pardon Me, Social Media

Read A (Banned) Book

Courtney Koschel

Filtering Filter Words in Your Writing

Questions to ask When Hiring an Editor

I Suck Syndrome: Recognize it and Beat it

Giving and Getting the Most Out of Critiques

Common Comma Issues

Manuscript Formatting

Jani Grey

Support from the obvious places

Need a little motivation or inspiration? I have some of that for you

Personal Perspective: Why I write 1st person POV

Let me tell you why you’re a winner

The Small Things

Why the subject of your blog post is so very important

Guest Posts

Visualize Your Way to Success: Guest Post by Vaughn Roycroft

DIY Editing and Proofreading Part 1 with Karen S. Elliot

Editing, Proofreading, and a Contest with Karen S. Elliot

Pants on Fire: Guest Post by Laura Long

Guest Post by Brian Taylor: Take a Walk… On a Tightrope: One Writer’s Journey

I’ll see you next year. Have a happy and safe new year!


Tags: , , ,


008NaNoWriMo is done for another year. How did you all do? I didn’t participate, but had fun watching the updates fly by. Congratulations to all the winners!!

This is going to be a short post this week, because I need feedback – from you. I’ve asked the other Hugs and Chocolate writers if this is something they’d be interested in doing and the majority of the response has been extremely positive and exciting. I’m going to list a few questions and would look forward to reading your answers. We’ll discuss them and see what we can do to best help you.

Now that NaNo is over, we know you’ve got a ton of words, but it may not be ready for publication. However, we also know that it’s December, which means it’s crazy busy with Christmas and New Year’s coming up and you probably don’t have a lot of time to devote to writing this month. So…

1. If the Hugs and Chocolate writers were to offer workshops and critiques via the website, would you be interested in participating?

2. What subjects would you like to see covered? Revisions and editing are difficult. Some of us have done them or are doing them as I write this. What, in particular, would you like to know more about?

3. We were thinking of offering a critique workshop also. Would you be willing to submit the first 500 words of your story in a comment and have it critiqued? Or perhaps your one sentence description? Tell us what you need and how we can best help you.

4. Are you in need of a critique partner? Perhaps, via comments, you can find someone else who’s looking.

5. Timing. Because December is so busy for everyone, when would you like to see this happen? We want to create a community that helps you succeed and we’re looking for feedback about what our readers want and need.



Posted by on December 3, 2012 in Critique, Editing, Feedback, First Lines, NaNoWriMo, Revision


Tags: ,

Hunting for Writing Drive

Yey for short posts!

NaNoWriMo aside, sometimes I think November is the longest month ever. I’m tired. Are you tired? I thought so. It’s been an exceptionally long year, and I can’t wait for my vacation to start in *checks calendar* 29 days and counting.

When I get tired, especially at this time of the year, I lose a bit of what I like to call my ‘writing drive’. As much as I absolutely adore writing, it feels just that bit more painful in November, like I’m truly bleeding onto the page. Every. Single. Word.

The need to go home, fall onto my bed, and stare at the ceiling for a good hour and just skip the day’s writing, is especially prominent in what’s come to be known at work as ‘hell hour’. It’s that hour before I go home, and my motivation to do anything is less than 0. Or rather, my motivation is hiding in a pitch black drainpipe somewhere, and the only way to get it back is to stick my hand in there with the hope that nothing tries to eat me.

We all know one of the true signs of being a writer is to write even when you don’t feel like it. Having a muse is all well and good, but once you have deadlines you can’t miss, your muse isn’t going to do anything for you. He/she might even laugh a bit as you struggle to get those words out, but out they have to go.

So in an effort to get rid of the day’s reluctance to write, I do a few things that scrape together all the motivation scattered around me.

  • Half an hour before my workday is done, I stop working. Maybe stop is too direct. I pretend to work. This is something that will definitely not work for everybody, but for those who can, try it out.
  • You’ll be surprised how invigorating/recharging a silly conversation can be. I had one yesterday about alligators and yo mama jokes. After that I managed a solid 1k +. Twitter is great for this.
  • For those of you driving to and from work, I want to seriously suggest maybe skipping the radio station you listen to, and instead listen to your WIPs playlist or music that chills you out/inspires/motivates you. I do this every afternoon, and by the time I get home, I’m almost ready to get things one. If you don’t drive or use public transport, maybe take a half an hour or so and listen to something that works for you before you start writing.
  • Don’t underestimate procrastination. Let your mind wander, you might be surprised by what you pick up along the way. Tumblr is a great place for that. Pinterest and DeviantArt too.

Four small things when you’ve lost some of your writing drive. It’s been such a quiet week, and now that we’re entering the third week of NaNo, we need all the drive we can get.

Check in, won’t you? How’ve you all been doing? How has November been treating you?


Posted by on November 14, 2012 in Inspiration, Just For Fun, NaNoWriMo, Social Media


Tags: ,

How to NaNoWriMo During Thanksgiving

Here in the US, Thanksgiving is celebrated on November 22nd this year–right as National Novel Writing Month participants are rounding the corner to the finish line. Thanksgiving may very well be one of the most demanding holidays of the year between the cooking, visiting families (many times, more than one!), turkey comas, and festivities that can last an entire four day weekend. For some “Wrimos” this is the point where they give up the goal and resolve to do better next year. But it doesn’t have to be.

In general, NaNoWriMo is easier done in small chunks rather than sitting down and trying to write it all at once, and this is a good thing for fitting it in during the holiday weekend. It helps if you start by knowing how much writing you can accomplish in 15 or 20 minutes. On average, I can write about 500 words in that time frame, though if I’m in the groove, I can write as much as 750 (or as low as 250 if I’m struggling). But if I use 500 as my average, I know I can accomplish my daily word count in 3 or 4 short writing sessions. With that in mind, here are some ways to fit those short sessions into even the busiest days.

  1. If you’re hosting. This is probably the most difficult of all situations–being in charge of all, if not most, cooking, entertaining all your crazy relatives, and waiting on them hand and foot. Try to get as much writing done before and after they come over. Something I’ve really enjoyed doing lately is taking my laptop into the kitchen with me. If you have your novel file open while you’re working, you can brainstorm while you cook and then write for ten minutes or so after you finish cooking each dish. Be sure to plan for a little extra time in the kitchen for this and use your microwave timer to time your sprints.
  2. If you’re visiting family. Take advantage of travel time! This year I am going to my husband’s aunt’s house who lives 1 1/2 hours away. That’s three hours total of driving time and plenty of time to get some serious words in. If you’re traveling by plane, even better! If possible, go to the airport a little earlier and use the time while you wait to board the plane.
  3. If you will have or will be an overnight guest. Create a quiet, comfortable place in your bedroom (either at your house or theirs) to escape to every couple of hours for fifteen or twenty minutes. Head to bed a little early or wake up a little early to get some words in while no one is even missing you.
  4. If you watch football. Easy–commercial breaks and half time. You can even create a game out of it using the score.
  5. If you shop on Black Friday. Take your laptop with you and write for ten minutes in your car before each new store.
  6. If you can make it to write-ins. Even though it’s a holiday weekend, there will very likely still be write-ins to attend in your area. Get in touch with your region on the NaNoWriMo website and make plans to escape the madness for 2 or 3 hours. Sprints with other Wrimos are an easy way to rack up large word counts in short periods of time.

No, my dearest Chris Baty clearly wasn’t worried about cooking and shopping when he chose November to host NaNoWriMo, but it is what it is. And even so, thousands of people still win every year. As long as you don’t give up, you can be one of them. I hope these suggestions help you through the busy weekend and I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving!

Photo by Vision Freak


Posted by on November 12, 2012 in Deadlines, NaNoWriMo, Writing


Tags: , , , , ,

No, I Don’t NaNo – Confessions Of A NaNoWriMo Rebel

Originally, I was going to post part two of What’s So Good about Goodreads: Using Goodreads As a Writer, and I will, once the NaNo madness is over. You see, I know a good portion of you are writing your butts off right now and don’t have time to make the dinner much less read blogs, so I’m going to save that post for another day. Instead, I’m here to talk to all the NaNo rebel writer’s out there. Believe it or not, we do exist. I’m one of them.

With all the NaNo hype going on in November, it’s hard to believe there are writers who choose not to participate, don’t find NaNo useful, and don’t find word counts motivating. Now, before the NaNo enthusiasts decide to hit me with rotten tomatoes, I am not saying NaNo isn’t valuable, but I am saying that it’s not for everyone. Shock! I know, right?

If you’ve chosen not to participate, and you’re feeling as if you’re the only writer in the world not buzzed on caffeine and frantic about your daily word counts, you’re not alone. I’ve found NaNo doesn’t work for me. I’ve tried. I’ve pushed, and I’ve even come 10k shy of winning, twice. In the end, I felt beat up, un-satisfied, and left with what I felt were a lot of useless words that I put on the page simply to make my daily word count. Was it a waste of time? On the one hand, I learned a lot about my process, (which is why I think all new writers should try it at least once) on the other hand, the novel, if you could call my ramblings a novel, had little in it that I wanted to salvage. After considering the mess of a first draft I created in 1 month compared to the somewhat coherent first draft I created in 4 months, I decided, for me, I would rather write slower, higher quality drafts than rush the writing. I learned that I am not a sprinter; I am a long distance writer, building momentum and pacing myself until I win. Two different styles to achieve the same goal and neither better than the other, just different. And in that moment, I asked myself, why am I doing NaNo? Why indeed.

For me, November is just another month where I do what I should be doing all year–putting words on a page, moving my story forward, and reaching my goals. Some days the words flow better than others, but I don’t stress myself with word counts, I may be slower but my first draft is cleaner. This is how I work. This is my style, my process. I make no apologies for it and neither should those of you who find you’re not sprinters either. Sometimes we forget that NaNo is a tool, a motivator to get writers where they want to go, but it’s not the only path. We each have our own journey and process. Don’t be afraid to say no to NaNo if it doesn’t work for you. It doesn’t make you less of a writer, it doesn’t mean you’re a wimp, and it doesn’t mean you’ll never finish that novel. Sometimes writers start with NaNo and find that once they’ve learned the foundations, they outgrow it, that’s ok too, but don’t use not participating as an excuse not to write. So whether you’re a NaNo sprinter or a long distance writer, stay focused and write on.

I know my fellow hugs and chocolate ladies as well as a lot of our followers thrive on the NaNo experience, and I completely support the caffeine educed frenzy as you go for it and push through words, paragraphs, and pages to complete a novel. I applaud your energy and bravery and think you are truly awesome. I’ll stand on the sidelines and cheer you on and celebrate your win, because it is hard and is an amazing achievement.

Are you a sprinter or a long distance writer? Do you NaNo or not?


Write Your Heart Out

This has nothing to do with my post. I just really liked it 🙂

NaNo is going full steam ahead. I know this because I’ve not heard or seen many of my writing friends since Thursday. Occasionally, one of them will pop onto Facebook or Twitter and announce their word count. I miss the excitement, the challenge and camaraderie. Not to mention my competitive nature that rears its head. I opted not to do NaNo this year. I’m down to just needing a few thousand words to finish my manuscript. I don’t want any pressure or distractions right now. I’m so close.

So what’s a former NaNo winner, or any writer who’s not competing supposed to do while sitting on the sidelines? Write, of course. However, for those of us who miss the thrill, I’ve compiled a list of other sites with information about writing contests for the upcoming year.

These are in no particular order or genre. I’m not endorsing one contest over another. Please go to each website and read the rules carefully. Have fun, write well and good luck.

This is one of my favorite writing sites, period. Not only does it have a lot of great information, but you can also post query letters for critique, or even your first chapter for critique. I’ve got my first chapter posted there, but anyway, they have a forum for upcoming contests and conferences:

This site is from Publisher’s Weekly:

This site is genre specific. It’s through Minotaur, an imprint of Macmillan:

New Voice Young Writers. The deadline for this one is quickly approaching though:

WritersViews offers a listing of various contests:

Writer’s Digest offers various contests throughout the year:

Writers-Editors offers a list of approximately 1200 contests around the world.

There are many more to choose from. A lot of the major publishers offer contests through their various imprints and it might be worth your time to check their websites, along with your favorite writing sites. Ask your friends on Facebook, Twitter, SCBWI, or other professional organizations. NaNo may be the most popular and it’s now held three times a year. In June and August, there’s Camp NaNoWriMo and the regular competition in November. I hope you find a contest that suits your needs. Now, it’s back to my writing

Photo Credit:


Posted by on November 5, 2012 in Contests, NaNoWriMo


Tags: , ,

NaNoWriMo Madness Survival Kit

Yes, folks, like Jani, I couldn’t stay away and joined in the madness at the last moment. I made the decision after I lost my grandmother. I remember her telling me how fast time goes by, and one day we look in the mirror and wonder where it all went. Smart woman, my grandmother. I can see her picture from where I sit and as I think of her, the word “gumption” comes to mind. I promised I’d make her proud.

Signing up for NaNo is an endeavor to keep that promise, and finish revisions on one book, send it on, and begin the next story. It’s a time in my life when I need to write, and I crave caffeine-fueled word rushes. I think psychologists call it emotional transference.

I fell in love with NaNo when I first participated last year. I don’t believe it’s about winning, or that those who don’t participate should miss all the fun. I hope you enjoy the following links and you’re welcome to share links, thoughts, and encouragement for other participants in the comments below.

Great Advice:,0,4722674.story

What Chuck Wendig has to say about NaNoWriMo:

For midweek mojo, visit Steven Pressfield on Wedesdays:

What Barbara O’Neal says about time and work habits:

Feeling distracted?:

Natural ways to fight fatigue:

On December 1st:

Rest first, then…

Don’t forget to write(and laugh):


Posted by on November 2, 2012 in NaNoWriMo


Tags: , , , ,

Last Minute NaNo Planning

Good morning, NaNo superstars.

How are you all feeling? Excited? Charged up? Filled with words you’ve been bottling up until now?

Tomorrow sees the start of NaNoWriMo, and I’m still jealous that I won’t be doing it with you guys. This being-sensible things it not working for me right now. But so it goes.

I’m sure that by now you’ve got your month/novel planned out and ready to start. For those of you don’t, even for you those who have everything sorted, I have one or two questions for you:

Do you know what you’re writing?

Do you have a firm grip on the genre you’re writing? I ask this because I don’t want you hitting the 20k mark and suddenly panic that what you’re writing isn’t working, or it’s morphed into something you didn’t expect/see coming at all. I know this is only the first draft, and things can be changed/fixed in rewrites, but why make extra work when it isn’t necessary?

Do you have a firm grasp on the story you want to write? Do you know where you’re going?

For pantsers this can be tricky. I’m the biggest pantser ever. I tried plotting last year and ended up almost not finishing the novel.  Even though I don’t plot, I do have a general idea of where I’m going. I have a beginning, middle, and end. The rest I leave up to the characters and where what they do take me. The most plotting I can do is to fill out a beat sheet. Vaguely. So, pantser, do you have a general idea of what has to happen, or are you going in completely blind?

Plotter, do you have your chapters planned out? Do you have them summarized? Have you done your research, and have your events mapped? I don’t even know why I’m asking this. Of course you do. Plotters are organized like that.

Do your characters have motivation?

As important as plot is to a story, motivation is just as essential. I don’t want to read a story where the character does things just because they can. There has to be a reason. An author once said that every single character in your story should have motivation, even if it’s just the man having a cup of coffee and reading the newspaper at the coffee shop where your MC work. Even the woman your MC brushes shoulders with as she runs away from who’s chasing her. What is your characters’ motivation?

Do you have your setting in place?

I’ve had a full rejected simply because the editor couldn’t get a decent grip on my setting, so I know how important it is. Setting is an entire character on its own, and I think we sometimes forget how important a role it plays in the stories we tell. We take it for granted. Do you have a clear view of where your story takes place? You can have so much fun with this, get your characters into a lot more trouble by using the setting.

That’s all I’m throwing at you right now. Those are the big things. The smaller ones you can figure out as you go. There’s still a few hours left for you to figure out the last few details to try and make this writing month as painless as possible.

From all of us here at Hugs and Chocolate, we want to wish you the best of luck with November’s writing endeavors. We can’t wait to hear how you’re getting along. We’ll have check ins, so look out for that. We want to know how you guys are doing.

Happy writing.
Update: With 8 hours to go(for me and my futureness) I’ve changed my mind and decided to do NaNo. Because there’s nothing like a hint of madness to start the month of November with.


Posted by on October 31, 2012 in NaNoWriMo, Writing


NaNoWriMo Prep: Signing Up and Participating

Hey Writers! Just a few more days until National Novel Writing Month begins. You’re participating, aren’t you? Glad to hear that! Time to stock up on coffee, gummy bears, chocolate, frozen dinners and pajama pants. Got that covered? Great! Oh, you haven’t actually signed up yet? Well, let’s fix that.

I know it’s a big step–officially putting your name on the website–but if you’d like claim your goodies when you hit that 50,000 word mark, it is necessary. Plus, you get access to all kinds of fun things like the forum and your own personal profile to add your author and book information. Let’s take a minute to run through the three most important things to do on the NaNo website.

  1. Signing Up. It’s even easier than signing up for a new email account. Go to the Sign Up page and enter a username, an email and a password. DO NOT skip your time zone. This is very important as it will lock you out before your correct time on the final day if you don’t have it set to your time zone. Click “Sign Up” and wait for your confirmation email! You’re in the club!
  2. Set Your Home Region. It’s not impossible but it is a lot less likely that you will make it to your goal without support. Visit the Forum if you’re unable to meet up with other Wrimos in person. If you are able to meet in person, go to NaNo Near You > Find Your Region and search for your state. You can then narrow it down to your city and join a region. Now you will be notified about Write-Ins in your area.
  3. Change Your Time Zone. You heard me right. Not only do we have Thanksgiving to combat with (look for my upcoming post on that), but we also have the Daylight Savings Time roll back on November 4th. Because of this, you will need to update your time zone on that day, again, to insure you are given all the time you need to get those last words in.

Once you sign up, be sure to add me as a buddy and follow NaNoWriMo on twitter for updates and word sprints.

I’ll see you on the other side of sanity!


Posted by on October 29, 2012 in NaNoWriMo


Tags: , , , , ,

Even if You’re not Doing NaNoWriMo: A Challenge

It’s almost November, and for many writers, the beginning of a month filled with too much caffeine, frozen pizza, and questionable hygiene. That’s right–NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. If you’ve never joined in the madness, you may want to look into it. But, just like everything else in life, it’s not for everyone, and that’s okay.

One thing I really love about NaNo is the sense of community and excitement. Those two things alone are so inspiring. And let’s face it, there’s something comforting about knowing there are other writers out there who are working toward the same immediate goal as you.

Some writers use the month of November to edit instead of draft. Some use it to finish a manuscript they’ve been holding on to for a long time, but have never gotten around to finishing. What I’m getting at is, even if you don’t want to participate in NaNo, I encourage you to use the 30 days to do something with your writing. Take advantage of the NaNo atmosphere and energy. Thousands of people do NaNo each year–make them your accountability partners for a month.

I have some hefty goals for the month of November. I plan on finishing my revisions on my YA horror novel and hopefully drafting another novel. We’ll see how much I get done, but I’m hopeful 🙂

What are your goals for the month of November?