NaNo Success with Kastil Eavenshade

I’m delighted to welcome author Kastil Eavenshade today, here to talk about her latest book, The Wolves of Argonne and more…

Pam, aka Kastil Eavenshade, is a slave to the corporate engine, toiling away in the labors of retail sales for the military. In her spare time, and away from the constraints of her master’s whip, she finds pleasure in writing anything from fantasy to romance–which sometimes parallel each other. She writes under the pen names Kastil Eavenshade and Olivia Devereaux. Art is another one of her passions, when her writing muse goes sneaking about dark alleyways to sulk. She lures him back with a kiss and a promise, aka coffee and chocolate.


NaNo Success: Making the Most of a Writing Frenzy

NaNo (National Novel Writing Month) is a tradition I started doing in 2007 at the prompting of my other writing friends. It’s an event were a billion six people ignore their lives, family, and hygiene (okay, maybe not that last one) to whip out a 50k plus novel in the month of November. The point, in my opinion, is to get that first rough draft completed and then work on the edits in December. Or in my case, after the New Year. Apparently I have to remember I have a family when the clock chimes midnight on November 30th. Go figure. 😉

In 2007, I failed miserably. Not only did I allow the allure of the first Assassin’s Creed video game to suck me into oblivion, I had my ‘trusty’ Toshiba laptop crap out. The motherboard vomited all over me and even if I had the latest copy on a thumb drive, I would still be screwed. None of the other computers I had in the house had multiple USB ports. In fact, my desktop needed an adapter for the USB keyboard it was so old. I still have that computer…and haven’t turned it on since 2007.

I can blame the addicting power of video games or the implosion of the laptop all I want. The fact is the one thing that really failed completing NaNo was me. I was only 28k into the story with a week left. Even burning the midnight oil I don’t think I would have made it across the finish line. I had failed in fulfilling my commitment.

Flash forward to the next year. Fresh with a new laptop, I pounded the keys and won. Then I did it again in 2009 with having another release of Assassin’s Creed in the same month! Rinse and repeat. From 2008 to 2010, I did novel ideas. I loved them, I hated them after spending a month sequestered away with my wishy-washy muse who wanted to do anything but work on one project. Though I had reached the 50k mark, all NaNo left me with was three unfinished novels. Well, four if you count the Year of Fail. I had to change that pattern.

With 2011’s NaNo around the corner I changed tactics. The goal is to write 50k words, not finish a novel. Let’s face it, anyone who believes what they’ve typed ‘The End’ to on day 30 is ready for the publishing world needs to be smacked upside the head. Not even successful novelists have this lofty idea.

So I mapped out what I wanted to do for NaNo, laying out not one novel but several short stories, and set to work. By doing this, my use was sated. His bouncing off the walls and ADD ways were tamed. I flew through the stories, doing something I never bothered with before—editing as I go. My hope was to have these ready go into the shark tank. One especially—Mended Hearts—had to get out by the end of the month.

At the end of November, I had completed the rough draft of four pieces and had two others started. One piece I held back from the shark tank because I had that in mind for a special publication. Two pieces went off to Still Moments Publishing—Mended Hearts and The Beauty Within. I had hopes both would be accepted into a few of their anthologies. The Beauty Within got accepted for their Spellbound Hearts anthology. The edits and final proofing have been completed and the anticipated release date is March 2012. SCORE! NaNo wasn’t a big trail of unfinished stories sitting on my hard drive. Next came the sad news that Mended Hearts wasn’t right for the Valentine’s anthology…. Or was it sad news? Still Moments liked the story so much, they offered me a stand alone publication contract.

I was giddy beyond belief…and foolish. Without carefully reading over The Wolves of Argonne, I sent it off to Evernight Publishing. The first email I received from them was the word count wasn’t enough. I had read it wrong (see: rushing things and not reading properly). I had to fix the word count and resubmit. I banged out about 3k more words and sent it back. The contract came in a few days. I was excited. Three golden nuggets in one month!

Reality struck when I got the news from the publisher that the editor found the story lacking in the strength they were used to seeing in me (I had two previous publications with them) and the piece was childish. I was crushed. I had to agree I didn’t put my best foot forward but…childish? They requested a pre-edit and changed my editors. I was also told several rounds of editing would have to be completed.

In my heart, I knew I couldn’t disappoint this publisher. The praise heaped on me on the two previous publications made me realize I was lazy in my work on The Wolves of Argonne. I took the manuscript and the bit of notes from the new editor and rolled up my sleeves. One thing I pride myself in is fixing it well on the first shot. Several rounds of editing wasn’t something I wanted to do. Why not go for the jugular on the first shot and cleave it to three bouts? I edited the crap out of the manuscript with a critical eye. I added more elements to (hopefully) strengthen the piece. In all, not counting the words I cut, I added about 5k more words to it. I sent it back to the publisher, hoping that my failure in giving them what they expect from me didn’t compound tenfold.

Happily, the editor—who had read the first big steaming pile of crap—liked the changes. A couple of rounds later, I had my proof copy and my first novella going to eBook. If I get lucky and sell enough, they’ll offer a print version on their site. I’ll dream that dream but the ultimate goal is to get my written word out there, preferably by using a publisher.

What has this last NaNo taught me? Go with my strengths and have more than one thing on the table. It helps me with writer’s block and all the ideas bouncing in my head. This is year is the year of the novella for me. I plan to get two more publications out there before NaNo 2012. Come October, I’ll have a sit down with my muse and decide the best course of action for tackling those thirty days of madness.

Feel free to follow me on my blog of many voices.

Yes, it feels good to achieve my goals. It near hurts to dream so long as you put your foot forward and walk the path instead of waiting for opportunity to knock on your door.

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