NaNo '17 Week 1 Update // I WROTE 20K + No Sugar?

by - 12:30 PM


Oops, there went the ENTIRE FIRST WEEK OF NANO.

*awkward wave* Hello there, bookdragons of the internet! I'm back with a little (or not-so-little) update on my NaNo progress. It's been a crazy first week but an awesome one nonetheless. Loooooots of exciting things have been happening. ;)

So remember me freaking out last week and saying I hadn't plotted and IT WAS ONLY LIKE A DAY TILL NANO?? Welllll. I spent Halloween (or NaNo Eve - I prefer that holiday) in the library plotting like a crazy person. And the cool thing? IT WORKED. Plotting rarely works for me, but I actually came up with a solid outline that has been super helpful in writing my story.

Well, one of them anyway.

That's right, if you didn't see it on my NaNo profile, I'm doing TWO projects this month. (Possibly one other one if I feel like it. #insaneperson) Let me introduce you guys to them really quick. The first one is the story I plotted. It's a steampunk Snow White retelling, which I started back in July. It wasn't working then but MY GOODNESS it's working now.

// Behind the Velvet Curtain //

Some curtains should never be lifted.

Adelia is counting down the days until she is finally free of her job as the magician's assistant. And when a young journalist rolls into town with the offer of a lifetime, she dares to hope her dream will be realized. The only thing that might shatter her hopes is the unusual mirror in her possession. When the mirror shows more than just her reflection, Adelia begins to wonder if legerdemain extends past the stage.

Life is determined to make Theodore bleed. One morning, he wakes up in an orphanage with no memory of how he got there. He runs away to join the circus and there discovers his two passions in life: the violin and performing. But with his impaired eyesight, he has no hopes of pursuing a professional career. He has no memory of his past and no prospects for the future...until a woman in an airship shows up at his door.

They say the world is a stage. But in the mist-shrouded society of England, some curtains should remain closed.

/ / /

I atually just realized I need to update that synopsis. Things have changed, my friends. xD 

The second project I'm officially (maybe) working on is essentially just a seedling of an idea with a title I slapped on the end of it. Ahem. Very well plotted. ;P I don't even have a Pinterest storyboard or a playlist or a mock cover or ANY OF THE VITAL THINGS. I literally just got an idea, threw together a synopsis, and uploaded it to the NaNo site like 30 minutes before NaNo began. We'll see how this goes. xD

It's supposed to be a fantasy book but like in a futuristic setting. I don't know exactly what I want to do with it or even how to describe it. All I know is there will be conspiracies and lots of siblings and epic fantasy stuff. Priorities, people.

// Vagrant Embers //

Getting involved in a murder plot was not how she thought her day would go.

Forest and her six siblings have spent their entire lives as vagabonds, wandering the Continent and selling their probably-not-counterfeit wares. But when a customer keels over dead right in front of them, they suddenly find themselves thrust right in the midst of a plot to kill the king: and they are the murderers.

/ / /

YES I'M SUPER PUMPED/TERRIFIED TO WRITE THIS. It will be 100% pantsed unless I sit down and outline it. Ironic because BtVC is my most-plotted story yet and Vagrant Embers will be my least-plotted. It's going to be interesting. ;)

Now that I've finally introduced my WIPs to you...on to the real update!

// U P D A T E //



Like usual, I stayed up until midnight and rang in the new NaNo with writing. I was attempting to do a 5k day, even though it was Wednesday (aka one of my busiest days of the week) and I DID. I actually wrote 6k that day and felt like my story had a pretty solid beginning. 

The rest of the week basically consisted of me trying to squeeze in writing late at night after all my homework was done. I'm not going to lie: I'm waaaaaaaay busier than I was last year. So I'm trying not to compare my stats to last year when I was insane and actually wrote DOUBLE what I have currently Like...what even was I doing with my life then? o.o I must have consumed unicorn supertonic or something. xD

But I realize that it's a year later. I'm a year older. I'm a different person than I was same time a year ago. AND THAT'S OKAY. 

I'm really, really pleased with how NaNo is going so far. I've managed to prioritize things and really be productive with college, writing, and other life things. I feel like that's something I really didn't place importance on last year. In 2016, I essentially ignored almost everything but writing...and that doesn't always work.

I've had research papers, college essays/applications, boatloads of homework, orchestra rehearsals, and so much more. But you know what? I feel good. I don't feel stressed - not really. Because I'm pushing myself with my writing but not past my breaking point. That's the key thing here. Are there nights when I just want to sleep and not write this darn novella? UM, YOU BET. I sometimes have to choose writing over other things I want to do.

But I'm just having SO MUCH FUN with this story and am completely in love with the characters. <333 It's actually a way more intense story than I've ever written before (may or may not have creeped myself out three or four times o.o) but that's a fun experience! There's still snark (it's in my DNA, what I can say) but all the action and plot twists and emotional conflict take front center. I LOVE IT. Although...um...my friends in my writing Hangout are shaking their fists at me because of all the cliffhangers. (Sorry, Em. xD)

I just hit 20k last night and am SO STOKED. That is actually the word limit for the Rooglewood Press contest entries, so I've already gone over it. OOPSIES. I write long stories, people. But I'm not stressing myself out about it. This is just the first draft, and it's more important that I explore my characters' personalities and establish the storyworld first. THEN I can go back and chop some things out. I have a good idea of how to streamline it anyway so I'm hoping the editing will be a smooth process.

SO YEAH. That's how I've been feeling. I'm in a really good place emotionally this month. Busy but satisfied and happy. :)

A few other general life things:

- I GOT ACCEPTED TO TWO COLLEGES. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! I've applied to three that I'm considering going to next fall, and two of them have already accepted me!! My mom and I toured one of them last month, and my top college (Liberty) also accepted me. WHICH I'M SO PUMPED ABOUT OH MY WORD. I totally squealed when I got the letter!

- I'm off sugar?? Yeah, I started this about five or six weeks ago. I've realized how much sugar I really consume regularly and wanted to make some healthy changes in my life. So I cut out added sugar. I only have dessert on one or two cheat days (usually one, but I DID have part of a donut for National Donut Day :P) and the rest of the week I just have very minimal amounts of sugar, most of it natural. I do feel a lot better about myself and honestly don't miss the sugar that much. It was hard the first few days but after that, it got better. Ummmm...until recently. Now that I'm doing NaNo, I WANT ALL THE SUGAR. It's hard not to stuff leftover Halloween candy down my throat (which I actually didn't eat on Halloween...WHAT IS THIS) but I've managed to so far. 

- I'm going on a trip! YES!! My mom and I are flying out to Liberty tomorrow morning (in like, less than 24 hours) for this College for a Weekend event they're having. It sounds SO FUN and busy and I'm just really, really excited. <333 BECAUSE COLD WEATHER. AND MOUNTAINS. AND JUST VIRGINIA. Virginia is my happy place. *sighs contentedly* 

- I reorganized my bookshelf! I must say, it looks even better than it did before. I had to take all my books down for the hurricane but I finally put them up again and oh my goodness. I'M IN LOVE. 😍

// S N I P P E T S //

Last but certainly not least, I'll leave you all with a few snippets. *rubs hands together evilly* These are all from Behind the Velvet Curtain. A mix of creepy/suspenseful/snarky. xD

/ / /

The creaking steps announced her arrival. Warm lamplight seeped through the opening in the door as a familiar face greeted her.

“Coming to tell ghost stories?”

Adelia rolled her eyes and elbowed past Theo into the wagon. “Got something better.” She withdrew the hem of her cloak from the plate with a dramatic flourish that only a magician’s assistant could manage.

Theo raised an eyebrow. “Well, that’s a disappointment. I was hoping you had a ghost trapped in there.”

She snorted and thrust the cake into his hands. “No hauntings tonight, Theo. Just cake.”

He broke into that dimpled grin of his and made a beeline for a stack of crates. He set the plate on top of one, then pulled out two beside it in a makeshift table-for-two. Adelia settled on one of them, and Theo grabbed a fork from the sparse number of utensils in the basket beside him.

He used the fork to cut the cake in half and slid the piece—the bigger one—on the plate toward Adelia. She regarded it with a question in her eyes, but he waved a hand dismissively. “Go ahead. You have to be starving.”

Her stomach rumbled as if on cue, loud enough for her ears to tinge hot pink. Theo didn’t even bother to hide his laugh and handed her a fork.

Feeling the heat tingling her skin, she stabbed a section of cake and brought it to her mouth. The sugary sweetness coated her tongue with a taste that could only be rivaled by homemade gingerbread. She closed her eyes and chewed the bite slowly, savoring every second of the flavor.

“I could get used to this,” Theo commented. 

She smiled and opened her eyes, not surprised to see Theo almost done with his cake already. Typical.

/ / /

Sob building in her throat, she raced for the door and into the open air. Instead of going to her own wagon, she turned to the quieting circus and wandered aimlessly through the various stands closing up. All the lights were dimming as the workers began to close down shop for the night. It must be late. She was rarely out here when it closed.

A hand seized her arm, pain rattling her nerves. She whipped her head around, reflexively trying to slap the person in the face. Black gloves stopped her arm mid-swing.

“You!” The word erupted from her mouth. Terror kicked her arms into gear again. She kicked at her brother, but he stopped her with a glance back at her wagon.

Chills raced up her spine. It was her wagon. With her sisters in it. Please don’t let him know. Don’t let him see my panic.

The cruel sliver of a grin on his shadowed face told her otherwise. “My dear sister, what’s the matter? You aren’t afraid of the dark, are you?”

The words made her heart skip a beat. He was winning. He was scaring her—and he knew it.

/ / /

It wasn’t very difficult to find the man; his practical, dusty brown vest practically shouted “out of place” in the noticeably impractical world of the circus. The reporter was ambling through the circus grounds with a bag of popcorn in his hands. Apparently he really loved that stuff.

“Good morning,” Theo said. He smiled in a desperate attempt to salvage respectability. Maybe he was lucky and Cassius actually didn’t hate his guts.

“Oh, hello.” He turned him a grin that was partially annoyed and partially ready to blot Theo from the face of the earth. There went that theory.

/ / /

The piercing scream sent desperation clawing at her chest. Adelia’s eyes nearly popped out of their sockets as she was startled into reality.

Is this reality? It can’t be. Where am I?


Horror was blazing through her head like a wildfire. Flames of fear licked at her common sense. She tried to stand but her legs and arms were bolted to the metal bed upon which she lay. All around her were grey, sunken shadows. The slender window in front of her revealed nothing except a sliver of harsh white light in the otherwise grim room. Screams continued to echo somewhere away from her, not too distant.

Her heart was hammering with panic as she tried to remember what had happened. The last thing she remembered, she was lying in her own room. Drifting off to sleep in peace as she recalled Theo waiting outside. Keeping her safe.

Now she was in a house of horrors. And she had no idea what was happening.

/ / /

Well. That seems like the perfect place to leave you all. *maniacal writer laugh*

I WANT TO KNOW: how is NaNo going? What's your wordcount? (I mean, if you want to tell - don't worry, I won't send dragons out to get you if you don't. I'll just stalk your NaNo account mwahaha. xP) If you aren't doing NaNo, how is life going in general?

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23 comments

  1. I'm not doing NaNo. Life is good. I want to do the no sugar challenge, too. I might try to go without added sugar. At least till Thanksgiving. XD.
    Awesome post!!

    ~Ivie
    iviewrites.blogspot.com

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    1. I'm glad life is going well! And yes, you should totally try it! I like recruiting people. ;) I've essentially cut out all added sugar, and it's great.

      But yes. Thanksgiving is approaching. We'll see how I do during the holidays, haha. :P

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  2. Your stories sound so amazing! I love the samples you shared. <3

    And I hope your trip to Liberty goes well. =)

    -Madeline Joy
    towerofjoy.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you so much, Madeline! <3

      Thanks!! I have the feeling it will be a great time - just got to finish everything on my to-do list first, haha. ;)

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  3. NaNo is going well. I'm a little behind, but I sort of took a break today. I might do some writing this evening, but we'll see how it goes. I'm also planning a virtual write-in with a few friends. We'll see if that materializes.

    I'm glad you got accepted to the colleges!! I hope your tour/visit thingy goes well!

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  4. Oh my word, you are awesome!!!!!!!!! These stories are giving me the chills, but just with that much told I soooooo want to read them! They sound so good!! Your word count is amazing!!! I am just so speechless.

    Good luck on you trip!!!!

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  5. AHHHH MARY, I AM SO HAPPY FOR ALL THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU HAVE GOING ON!!!! It warms my heart to hear that Nano is going well and that you're having so much fun with BtVC at last! :DDD

    Eeep, congrats on the two acceptances! Have fun at Liberty! Even I've heard of Liberty up here in Canada. ;) (I mostly have author Karen Kingsbury to thank for that. I think most of her kids attended there.)

    And those snippets! Gurrrrrrl, it sounds exactly like the blend of humor, creepiness, and circus-y craziness I was envisioning! I AM IN LOVE. Also Cassius is an epic name and I think he's my favorite already, even if he appears to be a somewhat unsavory fellow. XD

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  6. *FLAILS LIKE A HAPPY OCTOPUS* A NANO UPDATE FROM MEH MARY. AND EEEEEEEE!!!!!!!! ALL THE HAPPY THINGS. This whole post just gives me all the happyfuls. ^_^

    Huzzah on you for plotting the entire thing in a day! YOU ARE EPIC. (It took me like 3 weeks to plot my novel. Z_Z) And AAAAHHHH!!! I cannot tell you how thrilled I am that BtVC is going well now! I was so, SO sad when you said it wasn't working for you, because, I mean, DAT BLURB. O_____O THIS STORY NEEDS TO EXIST IN THE WORLD. SO I AM JUST ALL THE HAPPYYYYYY.

    AND EXCUSE ME. You're also writing an epic fantasy with LOTS OF SIBLINGS??? I AM IN LOVE. There are not NEARLY enough big sibling families in fantasy. THIS SOUNDS GLORIOUS.

    I feel you on the whole being busier than last year thing and trying to remember that instead of bemoan the higher stats of last year's NaNo. Literally me this year. But GIRL. YOU ARE WRITING SO MUCH. While doing COLLEGE. O____O YOU. ARE. A. MAGICIAN. And I can't even express to you how glad I am to hear you're feeling good and not stressed. GAH. That is just absolutely fantastic! <3333

    CONGRATULATIONS ON GETTING ACCEPTED TO COLLEGES, ONE BEING YOUR TOP COLLEGE. AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I AM SO THRILLED FOR YOU I JUST CAN'T.

    Okay but THESE SNIPPETS. "Creepy/suspenseful/snarky" <--Actually my favorite things all put into ONE. The snark is fabulous! AND THAT SECOND SNIPPET. o.o I don't even know what's happening and it chilled me to the bone. IN THE BEST WAY. And the last one. AGH. THIS IS AMAZING AND CREEPY AND SLDJSLFJLSDJ:JKFD.

    THIS WHOLE POST JUST MADE ME WANT TO HUG MY LAPTOP. I hope the rest of your month will be utterly frabjulistic! <33333333333

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  7. Great post, Mary! So much excitement! I'm glad NaNo is going well for you so far, like 20k?? Girl, that's amazing! I'm coming up on 15k myself. Writing has been going a little slowly since I realized I have to do more plotting before I can write. XD Usually I don't need to do much, but when I went to start writing, it was like "I have no idea what I'm doing..." :P

    I'm working on three and a half projects for NaNo this year. I have no idea how many of them I'll actually manage to write from start to finish but. My first one is "Strangers", which I'm getting ready for my alpha readers. The other three are:
    "Progeny" (second book in Strangers series) YA/Mystery
    "Lowlife" Adult Fiction
    "The War Between Us" Fantasy

    And guess what? I have elves in my fantasy novel!! I'm so excited! :D

    I hope NaNo continues to go well for you, Mary! :)

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  8. I hope your trip to VA and Liberty is everything you'd ever hoped it would be! VA is hands down the most beautiful state in the US. I mean, personally my heart belongs to North Carolina, but I still love Virginia way too much ;)

    And wow, Mary, you are rocking it. (And yes you are killing all of us in the hangout, why do you ask)

    Have a great time! And good luck with the rest of NaNo!

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  9. OF COURSE YOU GOT ACCEPTED BY TWO COLLEGES!!! YOU'RE AMAZING!! I'm so happy for you, Mary. :)

    The snippets are masterful! I adore the first one the most (even though the rest are also brilliant) because #relatable #cake. XD

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  10. CONGRATULATIONS MARY!!! You got accepted by two colleges!!! That is SO exciting!!! Good luck on all the writing and I hope you and your Mom have a wonderful time in Virginia!! <3 :D Many blessings, my friend!!

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  11. I'm sooooort of doing NaNo (not really but sort of), and it's going pretty well so far! The struggle is that I know where I want my story to go by the end, but I'm not entirely sure of how to get it there. But I think it'll come together. :)

    THIS WAS A FUN POST TO READ AND CONGRATS FOR SO MANY WORDS ALREADY!!! That's really cool. You go, girl! I'm so happy things are happy for you right now. :)

    Also, eeeek, Liberty is your top school? 'CAUSE IT MIGHT BE MINE TOO, AND IF I END UP APPLYING AND GETTING ACCEPTED, DO YOU SEE WHERE THIS IS GOING?!?!?! (I mean, I don't know -- nothing's certain at the moment. But I'll certainly Keep You Informed. ;))

    So glad you're doing well, m'dear! Have a blast at College for a Weekend! <3

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  12. Congratulations!! I love Liberty University! We have a lot of friends there:).
    Your snippets are awesome! I was thinking about doing NaNo this year (I've never done it before:), but school has gotten really stressful, so I decided not to. Tho, I have been writing more this month--I think I'm getting inspired by all the bloggers I follow doing NaNo. :):)

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  13. GLITTER QUEEN. YOUR SNIPPETS. WHAT MAGIC IS THIS?? xD I really, really hope you win the Rooglewood contest - your story deserves it! <3

    ~ Savannah | Scattered Scribblings

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  14. Is it hard to write about your characters enjoying cake when you're not eating any?? (That last snippet, by the way, makes me think of the magic tricks involving sawing people in half? which is probably random. But never mind.)

    NaNo's going... well, it would be going better if I was writing instead of here... *shrugs in a fake carefree manner*
    - Jem Jones

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  15. Literally everyone's stories sounds so incredible oh my word. Your ideas are so original though, I am in awe.
    ~ Abby {novelsdragonsandwardrobedoors.blogspot.com}

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  16. I'm glad you're having a good NaNo so far. 20K is awesome!

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

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  17. I'm applying to colleges right now and it is S T R E S S F U L. Congratulations on getting accepted! (Liberty is actually pretty close to me and I know several people who go!)

    Good luck with NaNo! 20K is amazing!

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  18. Hey there! I tagged you for the 2017 Liebster Award. If you've already been tagged, they hey, you're popular! If not, check it out and have fun!

    -Evan from https://ijusthappened.blogspot.com/

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    1. *then not they....I need to type slower... :)

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  19. THAT IS SO EPIC THAT YOU GOT ACCEPTED INTO TWO COLLEGES! *flails* I'm so happy for you!! <333

    *hungrily gobbles up snippets*
    *should've read them slower*
    *is sad because snippets are gone* -_-

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