NaNoWriMo, Meet My Bullet Journal, Take 2

Click here to see my NaNo profile and read the new excerpt

Good afternoon, wrimos! I bet you’re wondering what’s been going on since my last post waaaaay back in July when I was last talking about Camp NaNoWriMo. Well, from the sheer lack of posts you can probably surmise that I didn’t do well at all. You are not wrong. I got about 3,500 words written out of my projected goal of 15,000 and then I went kaput. I can’t really recall why that happened, just that it did. What I do remember is that my plan to use my bullet journal to track my word count actually was the most successful thing about Camp this year. Fortunately, I have a much bigger support network for the real deal competition that is National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo. Plus, many more friends are participating, so it’ll be much easier to get motivated and stay that way.

As a result, I am in full NaNo prep mode. Here’s a look at what’s been going on:

  • Official site updated. On the first day it was available, I went in and added all the details I could, including a brand-new excerpt from the story that I worked on last month. My BFF likes it, but I’m hoping she’s not just saying that because she’s my BFF. You’ll have to let me know. I also got to check off a bunch of personal achievement badges, including the one for Camp. Nifty!
  • Novel chosen. I’ve decided for the third year in a row to once more work on my story about an immortal knight, The Curse of Camlann. Hopefully I’ll finish the thing, or at least get darn close. It also earns me the NaNo Rebel badge, which is pretty cool.
  • Playlist page added. Since I’ve been listening to the thing for almost a year, I thought it might be fun to post it on the blog like I did the one for The Great Boyfriend Experiment. To see what tunes I’m grooving to while writing, or driving in the car thinking about writing, check out the page under About Nik’s Novels in the menu above, or you can go there directly by clicking here. This too earned me a badge, the Novel Maestro one.
  • Working lunches scheduled. Fellow wrimo and co-worker KellyLindy and I will once again be meeting up during the week to write together, inspire each other and have mini word wars during our lunch hours. We’ve co-opted a conference room with no windows so the only distractions will be those we bring in with us in the form of healthy and not-so-healthy snacks, and caffeine. This one got me the Wrimo Spirit badge. I’m racking ’em up!
  • Pinterest inspiration board updated. Not that long ago, I discovered a little gem of a BBC television show called “Merlin” during one of my summer Netflix binges. I am here to tell you that I have totally and without any remorse whatsoever stolen the Camelot they created and made it the one that Reese was born into back in the 6th century. Heck, the show’s finale two-part episode takes place during the battle in which he gets cursed, so it doesn’t get more perfect than that. To find out more, check out my Curse of Camlann board.
  • Word count pages recycled/created. As I mentioned at the top of this post, the best thing about July’s Camp was the word count chart I’d created. So, I’m going to do that again. In fact, I’m going to also reuse the one from July; it still has 86 books to color in as I’d set it up for a 25,000 word count goal. I’ll just use a different color, perhaps blue to match our NaNonaut, for November’s goals. I think this one definitely counts for the NaNo Prep badge, right?

Whew, that’s a lot to get done so far. According to my bullet journal NaNoWriMo task list, I have only a couple items left to check off. One is definitely optional, and the other is half optional. I need a reliable computer, and thanks to a failed Windows 10 update, I am now tied to my power cord since my battery got all mucked up. Cross your fingers I find a good deal on the laptop I’m looking for; I don’t need a lot, just something that will run a few Office apps and Scrivener. I’ll hopefully check back in before NaNoWriMo officially starts. If not, I will definitely keep you in the loop about how writing’s going once it’s in full swing.

Talk to ya soon, wrimos!

On Sale Now: The Courtesan’s Avenger (Desertera #2)

One of my writer friends has published her second book in a really nifty series. Go check it out!

Kate M. Colby

perf5.250x8.000.inddAfter over a year of working and waiting, I’m pleased to announce that The Courtesan’s Avenger (Desertera #2) is available in ebook AND paperback formats on all major online retailers.

First and foremost, I want to thank everyone who has helped me get to this point. I couldn’t have published one book, let alone two, without the support of my family, friends, and fellow writers. My readers deserve a special thanks: your encouraging emails, social media shout-outs, and heartwarming reviews are the fuel that keeps my inspiration burning. Thank you joining my journey.

When I published The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera #1) last year, I thought my heart would burst from panic. Here I was, an unknown and inexperienced author, putting her art out for the world to judge. Publishing my nonfiction booklets has felt significantly less personal (more like writing one of my craft blog posts), so I thought I…

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The Courtesan’s Avenger (Desertera #2) Cover Reveal

Check out my friend Kate’s cover reveal for her second novel. It’s on my “to be read” list for sure. I’m so proud of my writer friends! ~Nikki

Kate M. Colby

Hello, everyone! Today, I’m pleased to present the cover and book description for The Courtesan’s Avenger (Desertera #2).


A courtesan on a mission. A brothel ravished by greed. A murder to avenge.

Dellwyn Rutt loves her life as a courtesan. For years, she has enjoyed the simple pleasures and lavish gifts of her trade. Now she wants more: the title of madam.

But Madam Huxley, the brothel’s current proprietor, refuses to name a successor—a problem that is amplified by the legalization of adultery. As the new law sends lusty clients flocking to the brothel, Madam Huxley’s greed grows unchecked at the workers’ expense. Only one outsider seems to care: a self-proclaimed prophet who won’t rest until the unholy institution is abolished.

After weeks of abuse, Dellwyn desperately seeks a way to subdue Madam Huxley’s tyranny. But when another courtesan is murdered, Dellwyn must set her struggles aside and solve the…

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Camp NaNoWriMo, Meet My Bullet Journal

buildaplanIn last week’s post, I made an indirect reference to the Bullet Journal system. Some of you may know what that is, others of you may not. So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share with you what it is, why I care, and how I think it’s going to help me this July with Camp NaNoWriMo and regular NaNoWriMo this coming November. This is going to take a little bit, so I apologize in advance for the length of this post.

Even in this digital age, I still like to write things down on paper, especially lists. I love them, and here’s just a few I’m currently keeping handy: a general wish list; craft project to-do lists; must-see summer movie list; binge-watching TV lists, one each for on- and off-air shows; and Magic-cards-to-buy lists, just to name a few. I like the satisfaction of crossing things out when they’re done, and hitting “delete” in my Google app just doesn’t have that same oomph to me. So I’ve always had problems finding an agenda system that worked for me. Daily pages waste too much space, weekly pages don’t have enough space, and monthly pages are just ridiculous.

Enter the Bullet Journal.

I discovered it by way of my friend and YA author, MG Buehlren, when she was posting on Facebook about her BuJo templates for sale on Etsy. My brain perked up, and soon I was reading about a planner system where order matters only as much as you want it to, and you determine how much or how little space you use for your calendar/list/doodles or whatever. Ever curious, I joined MG’s Facebook group for Bullet Journal Junkies, started scouring Pinterest for more pictures and ideas, and followed Bullet Journal-related blogs and Instagram accounts. I was so eager I started with the last week in October 2015 because I couldn’t wait for the new month to get going.

My oh, so lovely purple Leuchtturm 1917 dotted journal to which I added washi tape and an initial sticker because they matched oh, so perfectly

My oh, so lovely purple Leuchtturm 1917 dotted journal to which I added washi tape and an initial sticker because they matched oh, so perfectly

I began with an old composition book I had lying around, playing with the layout and using boxes to fill in completed tasks because that was immensely more satisfying than X-ing out a small little bullet icon. It didn’t take long before I was redoing everything into a new fancier Circa binder from my existing stash with new dotted grid pages, Circa being Levenger’s system of movable pages I’ve been using for years for my movie and book lists. I even created a couple NaNoWriMo pages in November, but because it was still a new system for me, I wasn’t happy with the pages I’d created and I stalled out on NaNo after a couple of weeks.

At the end of May 2016, it was time to start journal #2. Despite my good intentions to use a grid notebook I had on hand, I saw the gorgeous purple Leuchtturm 1917 dotted grid version in the photo at a local bookstore and just couldn’t not take it home. I also picked up a black soft cover dotted grid version as well. While I use the purple one for my daily journal, the black one holds my collections: lists of books to read, movies to see, Xbox games and LEGOs to buy. I also wanted to get a bit creative this time around, especially with my “Books to Read and Buy” pages. So I proceeded to create a layout that looked like bookshelves, with varying sizes and styles of volumes, spines and stacks. 

Then I decided that since I’d flaked and not joined Camp for April, I definitely needed to do Camp in July because I really wanted to see how Reese and Rowena’s story would end. So that brought up the question, “how do I track July’s goal of 25,000 words differently than back in November, so that it’ll be something I’ll keep up with, too?” Then it hit me. Remember that “Books to Read and Buy” page I mentioned a moment ago? Well, I wondered if I could modify that somehow into a word count tracker page.

Turns out, I could, and I did, with what I think are fantastic results. Heck, I even shared snaps of the pages to the Bullet Journal Junkies Facebook group, and received lots of positive comments on it. One gal even requested the original large images I’d taken with my phone to print out on poster paper so she and her son could use them to track their summer reading. I mean, c’mon, how cool is that?!


A section of my new Camp NaNoWriMo Word Count Tracker page. Click the image to see the full page design.

The photo at left shows you a couple of the shelves I’ve created, especially that last book sporting my final goal. Clicking on the image will bring up the entire page of books (250 words per “title,” for 100 total) so you can see the variety of spines, flowers and other goodies I added to the page to make it fun and interesting. Now, with this page, instead of updating a boring blank line with a number, I get to fill in the spines of books, each representing words written. No matter how much or how little I write each day, I’ll be able to see the progress grow as I color in each spine as the goal is reached. I’ll still let Scrivener do the heavy lifting as far as targets go, but I’m looking forward to sitting down after writing with my colored pencil at the end of the day and coloring in as many books as I can up to that day’s total.

If it works well, and I have a feeling it will, I’ll have a tried and true method to use come November. With double the word count to track, I admit I’m looking forward to drawing out my shelves and books in order to get to that last 50,000 volume. Hopefully, I’ll have a finished novel at the end, too!

My, Oh My, Where Has the Time Gone?

Wow, I’ll be the first to admit that I hadn’t really realized how much time had passed since I’ve seriously written anything, let alone posted anything on my blog. Six months is a long time. In fact, it’s way too long! Hopefully you guys have been hanging in there with me, waiting to hear what’s going to happen next. So, hello to everyone, and thanks for sticking around!

girl-writing-letter-homeAs for what’s up next, that would be July’s Camp NaNoWriMo. Even though the last few months have seen me revisiting my novel here and there, making edits now and again, I think in order for me to make any significant progress, I need something a little more official than free time to prod me into action. Since school is also out for the summer, the timing was right. So, I signed myself up for camp this morning!

Since I really do still love my story about my immortal Arthurian knight, I’m going once again back to his story. I am hoping to finish up the edits and revisions for what I’ve already written before Camp starts; I don’t think I have that much left, thankfully. There are even a couple of chapters where I started reading them and said to myself, “Why am I writing this? Where does this fit into the story? Am I writing this simply because it’s a cool theme, or is there a purpose?” Those pages are still forthcoming, so I guess I’ll know soon enough. After that, I can’t wait to see if what I think will happen actually does, or if the story takes over and goes its own way. The fledgling romance between my hero and his lady is also heating up, and his exciting reveal of his truth is still to be written.

*makes note to self to not watch any of the Highlander movies so no scenes from them end up in the book*

So that’s where I am as far as writing goes. To check out the new excerpt I posted on my camper info page, click the camp icon at the bottom of the post. Now, if I can just figure out a better way to track my word count goals in my Bullet Journal than I did last November (and if you don’t know what a Bullet Journal is, tsk tsk), I’ll be a happy camper! (Ahem.)

Click here to see my Camp profile and read the new excerpt

Click here to see my Camp profile and read the new excerpt

P.S. If you’re also doing Camp NaNoWriMo, let me know and we can be cabin mates! According to the site, next selection is in 18 days. =]

A Day for Flashbacks


Memorial for Sarah Good, hanged as a witch during the Salem Witch Trials. Unfortunately for our hero, Reese would meet the same fate not long after in Ipswich, and have to claw himself out of his own shallow grave.

Greetings, all. Hope your NaNoWriMo-ing is going along swimmingly. On my end, Sunday was a bit of a bust as I racked up a measly 823 words. Today was a bit better. My lunch write-in buddy was working from home today, and although we did still meet up virtually via email and chat, it just wasn’t the same. I eked out even less than Sunday during that hour, and began to wonder if I would be able to catch up.

Then I reminded myself that it wasn’t about the word count anymore. It was about getting the story written, and meeting the 50,000 goal would just be icing on my tasty vanilla cake.

With that in mind, I finished up my day at work and headed home, mentally revising the plan for what to write next as I crept along the highway in rush hour traffic. How about instead of Reese thinking back on an event, I write the memory itself, adding in my first true flashback to one of Reese’s aliases? Since it worked for me, I went with it. I’d already made a note in the margin of my plot notebook that the crosshatched scars on his back were a result of the Salem Witch Trials, so after a little Googling, I was ready to go. I moved the flashback from the bottom of the scene to the top, added a header of “Ipswich, Mass. – 1692”, and began.

Oh, how the words verily few onto the page.

By the time I was done for the day — or more accurately when my kitty deemed I was done by sitting as close to my left arm as she could get without actually physically standing on me, thereby putting her head right in the way of my laptop screen — I’d cranked out over 2,000 words. Not bad for a Monday.

Today’s Word Count: 2,133

Word Count to Date: 12,456

Writing Time Today: 1 hour at lunch and 2.5 hours post dinner

Current Feeling: Intrigued. I want to see how much I’m actually going to put my hero through in the trials before snapping him out of the nightmare. In addition to the flogging, will he drown? Will he be hanged? Hmmm. *evil finger tapping commences*

Motivation/Inspiration: I admit, part of the inspiration to use the town of Ipswich instead of Salem is due to a movie. It’s called “The Covenant” and it’s about “the boys from Ipswich” who are rumored to be descendants of witches. I won’t ruin the story for you, but it’s got cute boys, magic, an awesome special effect involving a Mustang and a semi, and a reference to Harry Potter, albeit not a kind one. And yes, I’m going to go watch it right now as my reward for finishing the day. =]

Biggest Triumph: Being flexible in the structure of the story.

Biggest Setback: Writing in the office at lunch continues to be a little problematic. Even though I turn the sound off on my PC and turn on my playlist on my iPhone, I still get distracted by emails popping up, people walking by my office and general lunchtime hubbub. It’s so much easier when I stay late instead and I’m one of two people on the floor and it becomes like a ghost town.

Insights: I’m proud of myself for realizing when something wasn’t working and making a change. I haven’t done a lot of that, especially in my personal life, so it’s a good step forward to begin with something small like what to write.

Good Decisions Pay Off

Snoopy Happy Dance

‘Cause I’m happeeeeeeee!

Hello! I sit here writing this post today a happy girl. You see, my decision of yesterday to abandon my initial NaNoWriMo 2015 project turned out to be a good one. In one day alone, I’ve written 2,315 words on Camlann, and it felt good. I liked reconnecting with these characters I’d never really forgotten, and I liked jumping right into the action, picking up where I’d left off. Even more fun was talking out a bit of a scene with Meagan; I’m sure our conversation confused our neighbor at the library, what with the talk of which was worse, a broken wrist flopping around or a knife to the gut. (It was a fight scene, and the gruesome was necessary for the scene but also ended up being foreshadowing that I didn’t realize I’d done until I’d written it.)

All in all, the first session at the library and the second at La Madeleine made for a productive day. I also realized that in all the prior writing sessions I was missing one ingredient: my small stuffed Snoopy who is, at this moment, keeping me company as he sits on the upper left hand corner of my laptop. I won’t say he’s the reason I did so well, but I do think he helped make a difference as a good luck charm.

As I have a bit of laundry still to do tonight that I’d left sitting in the washer all day while I was out and about, I might even bump that word count up a few more notches. Stay tuned!

Today’s Word Count: 2,315

Word Count to Date: 9,382

Writing Time Today: 4.5 hours, give or take

Current Feeling: Pleased and happy…and warm, now that I’ve turned on the heater for the first time this fall.

Motivation/Inspiration: Reconnecting with my characters and caring about the story I’m writing.

Biggest Triumph: Being excited about the story and looking forward to seeing where it goes.

Biggest Setback: The ambient noise both at the library and the restaurant. One can only turn one’s headphones up so far, and when even that doesn’t drown out the noise, it becomes a distraction.

Insights: Even though I’ve been known to abandon one project to work on another over the years, this time it feels good. I’m not worrying so much about winning NaNoWriMo anymore, but rather just writing. If I happen to make the 50k (either including the earlier 7k from Homecoming or on is own), BONUS!