NaNoWriMo – Can you really write a novel in a month?

It’s that time of year again when writers start thinking about whether or not to attempt the madness that is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), or NaNo for short, and as I’ve participated quite a few times, I have some tips for you.

When I first heard of NaNo about 6 years ago, I laughed, shook my head and thought, ‘Yeah, right. As if you can write a novel in a month.’ I thought if someone finished a whole novel in one month then it would be utter rubbish and unedited. So, I avoided the idea completely…until I joined Twitter.

On Twitter, people take #NaNoWriMo seriously. That made me look into it in more detail and I discovered the point isn’t actually to write a whole novel in a month. It’s to write 50,000 words of a novel during November (the quietest time of the year, apparently, and therefore there should be less distractions). That works out at just 1,667 words per day. Just! So you’re not actually expected to start, finish and edit your novel in one month.

Once I signed up to the website (there are no fees involved), it felt like a challenge I wanted to try. So, on 31st October 2015, I sat down with a notepad and thought about what kind of book I wanted to write. All I had was a character and a location in mind. I didn’t plot or plan any more than that because I’m naturally what Nano-ers call a ‘pantser’, meaning I fly by the seat of my pants! But many people prefer to spend October plotting out their novels in advance so that when the time comes they can fly.

On 1st November, I sat at my computer, opened a blank Word document and started to write. It was easier than I had expected. What followed was 30 frenzied days of trying to fit in 1,667 words a day, around life and a day job. I learned that if you don’t write enough words one day, you can catch up another day. Or, if you’re really organised, you can write in excess of 1,667 words on the glorious days when the words are flowing and plentiful. There’s a great word count tracker on the NaNo website (www.nanowrimo.org) so you can log your progress. Plus, there’s a whole community of people willing to spur you along.

By 1st December I was a nervous wreck! I’d just managed 50k words and I had the shell of a first draft novel. But it wasn’t finished. I needed around another 40k words and many edits before I could consider it finished. I’m happy to report that I did finish it and then I edited it for months and sent it to two publishers. Somehow, both of them offered me a contract and the book has since been published (it’s called Who Cares if They Die and became book 1 of a 3-part series).

I believe NaNo got me into the habit of completing a first draft quickly and I’ve used it every year since.

This is what I’ve learned since participating:

The good:

  • It gets you into the habit of sitting down to write every single day. Something I’d never done before and I loved it – still do.
  • It kick starts a new novel and leaves no time for doubting yourself.
  • You’re less likely to edit as you go because there’s no time to! I love editing as I go but it slows me down completely. I once spent 6 months on the first 30k words of a book, editing it over and over. In the end I had to scrap it all and start again. That’s one of the hardest things to do as a writer but it made the novel much better.
  • The writing community on Twitter is amazing and the #NaNoWriMo hashtag is really encouraging during November. You really feel as though you’re writing with company for a change. It feels like we’re all in it together.

The not-so-good:

  • Writing every day gives me migraines. Staring at a PC all day was bad for my eyes. I should have had more regular breaks from my screen during my first attempt.
  • I exercised much less. My shoulders were aching and my hands turned into claws! Better time management on my part could have solved this and I’ve learned my lesson.
  • You need an understanding partner/family/roommate, because they will probably have to take over most of the housework during November. (Which is a bonus for us!)
  • You’ll want to put your novel to one side in December and not return to it for months! But that’s good, because when you pick it up again you’ll have a fresh perspective, which is invaluable for the editing phase.

So, what I’ve really learned is that while it is possible to write 50k in one month, it’s not really possible to write and edit a whole novel in one month (although I know some writers have mastered this). Also, writing every single day isn’t good for your body, but having a set routine of writing most days, whilst taking the weekend off, is best. NaNo can really get you motivated to start that new novel in a way that’s hard to beat.

If you’ve never tried it and always wondered about it, I highly recommend you give it a go. Even if you just kick start that new novel you’ve been thinking about but don’t make 50k words, it’s more than you’ve got now.

Good luck and see you on the hashtag #NaNoWriMo in November!

Wendy x

Update on my latest crime fiction series

With the harvest of my homegrown pumpkins ready for Halloween, it’s clear autumn is upon us. This is my favourite season as I enjoy dark nights and creepy movies, surrounded by fleeces, cats and pumpkins.

Spring and summer were busy for me because I’ve been hard at work on my latest crime series for Bookouture – which follows Detective Madison Harper and PI Nate Monroe.

I can’t say much about them yet but they certainly make an intriguing pairing and they don’t always get on. Madison and Nate start off as complete strangers in book 1, meeting at a vulnerable time in both their lives, and neither of them wants to trust the other but they have no choice as a child’s life is on the line. That’s pretty much all I can tell you for now, except maybe that – for those of you who loved Rocky from my Dean Matheson series – you’ll be pleased to know there’s a character in this series waiting for you to tell him he’s a good boy. 😉

Book 1 is completely finished – it has a cover and title, it’s been thoroughly edited and it will be released in January 2021. But you don’t have to wait until then to see the cover and blurb! The cover reveal will be held in late October, when it will also be available for pre-order. I’m absolutely in love with the cover, it’s the right mix of creepy and mysterious which perfectly epitomises what the book is about.

Book 2 is written and currently going through rigorous editing and that is due for release in February 2021, with a cover reveal/pre-order availability around late Nov/early Dec.

This book was written during lockdown and I’ve got to say it was the hardest book I’ve ever written. Although I’m at my writing desk every morning at 8am, some days the words just would not come because of what was happening in the world. It was difficult to concentrate and on top of the pandemic I had decided to leave my previous publisher and I hadn’t yet joined Bookouture, so I didn’t even know if book 1 would get published, never mind book 2. That has a big impact on motivation when trying to write a novel but perseverance paid off and writing it became my escape from the news. I knew who I wanted to publish the series (Bookouture) so I only sent it to them and, luckily, I was snapped up! They loved Madison and Nate so much they offered me a 2-book deal.

And books 3 and 4? Well, I’ll start writing book 3 very soon and I have an outline of book 4. It’s exciting to be starting a new story as I’ve spent the whole of this year working on the first 2 books so I’m ready to meet a new villain and see what this one is capable of! With a possible second lockdown looming, writing this will hopefully keep me occupied over winter. With the first lockdown we had amazing warm and sunny weather that tried to tease me away from my desk every day. This time it’ll be cold and dark so it should be easier to sit inside, as long as one of my three cats agrees to sleep on my lap and keep me warm. That’s Teddy-bear with the pumpkins by the way!

So thanks for your support so far and for asking after my new series. Keep your eyes peeled on here and Twitter/Facebook for book 1’s upcoming cover reveal. I just know you’ll love Madison and Nate as much as I do!

Until then, stay safe and warm.

Wendy x

Book giveaway!

Today I have announced a book giveaway on my Twitter and Facebook pages. If you would like the chance to win one of three signed paperback copies of book 1 in my Dean Matheson crime series (Who Cares if They Die) just head on over and follow the instructions. This is open to UK residents only, I’m afraid.

Depending on whether you visit Twitter or Facebook, all you need to do is like/follow my account, share the giveaway post and reply with your fave emoji. Winners picked at random next week.

Good luck!

Here’s the blurb and trailer for this book:

A series of suspicious suicides may be the work of a serial killer in this debut thriller novel featuring Officer Dean Matheson.
When the body of an unidentified woman is found hanging from a tree in the woods of Maple Valley, it looks like a clear case of suicide. But Officer Dean Matheson is unconvinced. Maybe he’s just looking for that big case that will help him make detective. Maybe he’s just trying to avoid his rocky marriage. Or maybe he’s really on to something. Because the closer Matheson looks at the facts of the case, the less they add up.

Then more apparent suicides start cropping up. The victims are all women living on the fringes of society—addicts and criminals nobody would miss. Does anyone really care if they die? Matheson is making it his business to care, and that’s about to make him a target . . .

Books 2 and 3 are out now in ebook and audiobook on all digital platforms. Here they are on Amazon:

Book 2 – Where the Snow Bleeds

Book 3 – Won’t You Save Me

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Book 2 trailer:

Bargain alert!

Just taking a breather from writing my latest crime thriller to let you know that all three of my Dean Matheson books are currently on sale on Kobo and Amazon, meaning you can grab the whole series for just £3.97!

I’m not sure how long this offer lasts so be quick! Here are the universal Amazon links for full blurbs and reviews:

Book 1 viewbook.at/WhoCaresIfThey

Book 2 viewbook.at/WhereTheSnowBl

Book 3 viewbook.at/WontYouSaveMe

Enjoy!

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Exciting news!

I have some exciting news!

I am delighted to announce I have signed a two-book deal with the fabulous Bookouture (a sub-division of Hachette UK) for my new crime series featuring ex-detective Madison Harper and private investigator Nate Monroe.

The first book in the series will be released in January 2021 and sees Maddison and Nate join forces to help find a twelve-year-old girl who has vanished from a summer camp in the small town of Shadow Falls, California.

Book 1 is already written and going through the editing process, I’m halfway through writing book 2, and book 3 ideas are forming a not-so-orderly queue in my head! Keep an eye out on here and on my social media (Twitter & Facebook) for updates about publication date and cover reveal!

You can read the official press release from Bookouture here.

For my loyal Dean Matheson readers, I expect you’re wondering what all this means for Dean, Eva and Rocky? It’s clear I love those characters and I know I have some super fans of this series because you message me nearly every day asking where the next book is! All I can say is there won’t be a fourth book yet but never say never. For now, I will be concentrating on my new series.

Thanks for sticking with me in my new adventure. If you like Dean and Eva, I think you’re going to love Nate and Madison!

Wendy x

Sale – 99p/99¢

Won’t You Save Me (Book 3 in the Dean Matheson Series) is currently on sale for just 99p/99¢ on Amazon and Kobo!

Buy links below but here’s the blurb:

Detective Dean Matheson has returned to his hometown to begin his new job and put the traumatic events of his past behind him – but his fresh start won’t last long when the local area is hit by a series of strange disappearances and twisted killings …
A nameless girl badly beaten and dumped in front of the mysterious new church. A shocking murder scene discovered in the apartment over the diner. A child missing without a trace.
These are the crimes Dean Matheson is confronted with in his first week as detective. Are they isolated events, or is something altogether more disturbing happening in Maple Valley now that Dean’s back in town?

Available to purchase on all digital platforms including:

Amazon (universal URL)

Kobo

 

Won’t You Save Me By Wendy Dranfield #Book Review by Reading Through The Pain

An unknown girl is found dumped near the church, she is horrifyingly beaten. Then a child goes missing, plus they find another gruesome murder scene in a flat above the diner. Dean Matheson is back in his hometown, hoping for a fresh start. He has now become a detective with his new partner, Detective Eva Woods…

via Won’t You Save Me By Wendy Dranfield #Book Review #CrimeFiction #Crimeseries #DeanMatheson @WendyDranfield @RubyFiction — Reading Through The Pain

It’s Publication Day!

It’s Publication day for book 3 in my Dean Matheson crime series: Won’t You Save Me.

This is my fourth publication day and does it get any less exciting as the books go on? Well, a little, if I’m honest. It’s hard enough to get family/friends to care about your first publication day, never mind your fourth, so there’s no fuss or celebrations this time.

This is where social media comes in. My Twitter and FB friends will make a fuss, RT my posts and make me feel special. It’s so lovely and encouraging to hear from readers of the first two books in the Dean Matheson series, who are eagerly awaiting this release. I still can’t believe anyone out there even reads my books, let alone enjoys them!

So, Won’t You Save Me sees Dean back home in Maple Valley, which was really fun to write as we get to see all the old characters from Who Cares if They Die. I missed Frankie (from Frankie’s Diner) so much and he provides some much-needed comic relief in what is otherwise quite a dark book. It tackles child sexual exploitation as well as how people wear masks to hide their true motivations. I know from experience that we sometimes have to place our trust in those we are meant to turn to for help but they can be the ones who let us down the most. There’s also a shocking revelation in this book that will change things forever and now I have to write book 4 to see how that turns out! Oh, plus, as well as Rocky the wannabe police dog, this book contains cats. What can I say, I’m an animal lover and I have 3 cats so they sometimes end up in my books!

I have to give a special thanks to Zoé from Zooloo’s Book Diary who is helping me celebrate publication week on her blog, and to all the bloggers who have shared her posts. Thanks also to Jo Lambert (fellow author) for sharing my publication day links. Jo’s current book can be found here and it’s the first in a new series, with books 2 and 3 on the way soon. At the time of writing this it’s on offer for just 99p but not for much longer so grab yourself a bargain!

And of course I have to thank my publishing team at Ruby Fiction for the opportunity of sharing my characters with the world. My books are a little (okay, a LOT!) darker than what they usually publish so taking me on was a bit of a risk! Hopefully I don’t have them shaking their heads in despair at my creepy plots and messed-up criminals!

Thank you to everyone who’s ever bought/borrowed/read one of my books. Whether you loved them or hated them, at least you gave me a try. It sounds like I’m retiring but I’m not! There is still plenty more to come from me and if you’re interested in my latest release, see below for the blurb and buy links. I really hope you enjoy it. Now I’m going to have a sneaky glass of wine to celebrate publication day with the cats…

Won’t You Save Me is now available on all digital platforms and the audiobook will follow shortly.

Blurb:

Detective Dean Matheson has returned to his hometown to begin his new job and put the traumatic events of his past behind him – but his fresh start won’t last long when the local area is hit by a series of strange disappearances and twisted killings …
A nameless girl badly beaten and dumped in front of the mysterious new church. A shocking murder scene discovered in the apartment over the diner. A child missing without a trace.
These are the crimes Dean Matheson is confronted with in his first week as detective. Are they isolated events, or is something altogether more disturbing happening in Maple Valley now that Dean’s back in town?

Buy links:

Amazon

Kobo

Apple books

GooglePlay

Nook

Book 1 – Who Cares if They Die

Book 2 – Where the Snow Bleeds

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New book announcement!

A bit of an update for those readers who are asking for all the gossip about my next book…  I’ve recently signed a publishing contract with Ruby Fiction for the third book in the Dean Matheson crime series!

Book 1 – Who Cares if They Die

Book 2 – Where the Snow Bleeds

Book 3 will be published in January 2020. OMG, that’s only 2 months away! What’s it called? You’ll have to wait a little longer to find out! Once the book cover and title have been revealed on social media (follow me on Twitter for the latest updates), I’ll post an update here with both.

So, what can I tell you about book 3? Well, it’s finally time to see whether Dean can cut it as a detective. In book 1 we follow him as a police officer itching to make detective, and when he’s given a chance to stand in for a colleague, it doesn’t go the way he had hoped. In book 2 he realises he needs more investigative experience so he tries his luck as a private investigator in the snowy mountains of Colorado on a particularly messed-up case. Now, in book 3, he’s got what he always wanted – he’s Detective Dean Matheson. We follow him on his first month in the job and what a month it is! Murder, deception and twists test Dean’s detective skills, but can he follow through to the end or will his greatest adversary derail him once and for all?

Thought you’d seen the last of Beth Smith at the end of book 1? So did Dean! And this time, only one of them can survive…

I’m so excited about book 3 as this is what Dean has been working towards for so long and even I didn’t know whether he’d be any good as a detective when I started writing it. I think readers are in for a few surprises, along with some familiar faces turning up and of course Rocky, Dean’s lovable rottweiler. That’s all I can say without spoilers!

For more teaser updates on book 3 and for the pre-order link, keep an eye on my Twitter and Facebook pages!

Coroner’s assistant to crime writer

It’s not surprising that I became a crime writer. After all, crime has always played a part in my work life. I’ve worked as a university adviser for prisoners who were seeking rehabilitation through education and I’ve worked in a coroner’s office, where we sought justice for those who may have passed away through medical negligence or even murder. So perhaps I feel compelled to write about crime in order to seek justice for those unable to seek it for themselves. Those who have been murdered, or those with no family to care about them.

Who Cares If They Die is the first book in my Dean Matheson crime series and it explores exactly that: what happens when women who are living on the margins of society are killed in suspicious circumstances. Does anyone care if a drug addict overdoses? What about if a prisoner commits suicide? The killer in this book hopes not. But these women are still someone’s mother, daughter, sister, despite what they’ve done.  Don’t they deserve as much justice as anyone else? Officer Dean Matheson thinks so and he makes it his business to find out the truth, because he’s unwilling to accept their deaths were suicides.

In the sequel – Where the Snow Bleeds – Dean is called in to investigate a police department that is happy to write-off two missing teenage girls from a remote ski town in Colorado as runaways, when all the evidence clearly points to the opposite. With the popularity of true crime documentaries rising, we are becoming more aware of corruption in law enforcement and just how big a problem it is, how many wrongful convictions take place each year. This book explores how far people will go to turn a blind eye in order to protect their own interests.

I think we’d all like a Dean Matheson in our lives, someone who will dig a little deeper in order to seek justice for those who can’t seek it for themselves.

But it’s not all doom and gloom! Just as I have cats who keep me company while I write, Dean has his rescue dog, Rocky, helping him in his investigations. Rocky is a gentle rottweiler and wannabe police dog and he’s the character I get the most emails about! I often laugh at how crime fiction lovers (me included) can read about the most horrific crimes to humans but I’ve been told on no uncertain terms that I can never, ever, allow anything bad to happen to Rocky. Quite right too.

This is a short article I wrote for Female First to celebrate the release of the paperback version of Who Cares if They Die on 5th Nov 2019. It is now available in all good book shops (and on their websites) and in UK libraries as well as on all digital platforms as an ebook and audiobook. Book 3 in the series is out in Jan 2020.

Watch the one minute teaser trailer to see if you’re interested!

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