Author Guest Post

NaNoWriMo: Don’t Care About Trends. Just Write.

November 22, 2016
Sarah Raughley
Author of Fate of Flames

It’s almost here. The final week of NaNoWriMo, disrupted (at least for those of us in the US) by the Thanksgiving holidays. That’s right, we only have EIGHT DAYS of NaNo left. We’re hope you’re cruising towards your goal (whether it’s 50k or something else). This week, since the end is near and you might need a little bit of an extra boost to catch up or push through to your goal, we’re bringing you a very special author piece by Sarah Raughley, author of Fate of Flames, which just went on sale today (and which we’re currently featuring an extended excerpt of here)!

We’re, of course, happy to answer any questions, talk about stressors, or give specific helpful tips in the last few days of NaNo. If there’s anything you want us to address, let us know in the comments and we’ll be sure to get you what you need to make it to November 30! Until then, here’s Sarah!


fate-of-flames-9781481466776_lgHey everyone! How’s your Nano going? This is Sarah Raughley, author of Fate of FlamesFate of Flames is Book 1 of the Effigies series. But it actually started out as a Nano book – the first book I ever reached my 50K goal for in all the years I’ve done NaNo. It can happen, people.

Actually, looking at my NaNo files it’s crazy how many incomplete stories I have in here, stuff I didn’t even set up pages for on my official account. I’m looking at what was supposed to be an epic Naruto fanfiction that I only ended up doing 15K on. I wonder: what was it about Fate of Flames that made me push forward and finish it?

The more that I think about it, the more I wonder if it was more about defiance than anything else.

See, the year was 2012. I was still a struggling, unpublished writer with so many rejections in my pile that I started to wonder if I was going about the whole process the wrong way. I mean, people were telling me that my writing was good. But maybe the problem wasn’t the writing itself, but what I was writing. Particularly – maybe my book just wasn’t trendy enough.

Okay, I think if you’re a Young Adult writer especially, you know what I’m talking about. Ever since the YA market blew up with Twilight, there has tended to be a rush to find out what the next big trend would be. I mean, I admit that it’s fun to think about sometimes – I still check in and see what’s happening, read the articles on PW, see where the market’s heading. But especially when you’re unpublished, it can feel really soul-crushing to read insights from editors and agents and other people in the industry telling writers, “Oh no, X is over. Don’t even bother writing it” or “Y can never work.” A writer looking for a way into the industry might think to themselves, “what if I really want to write Y?” or “What if my next big project is X?” Then you start getting this sinking feeling like, maybe you have to compromise your own vision to give yourself the best chance. You start to think see the walls closing in.

This was the situation I faced back in September/October 2012 when I was coming up with my story idea for Nano. I knew that I wanted to write a story about girls with elemental magic powers. I wanted them to fight giant monsters. Simple concept, right? I was totally excited to write it. Like the blurb says, it’s Sailor Moon meets Pacific Rim. Why not have a little fun with it? What shook my confidence, however, were those posts and tweets about trends. Back then, elemental magic was a tough sell, superheroes were niche and the only kind of fantasy people were really considering was the high fantasy court intrigue stuff. There were some that viewed the book as ‘paranormal’ and thus unpublishable. There were some that said it wasn’t romance focused enough. Since my main goal was to write the book and shape it up eventually for publishing, I wondered if it was even worth it.

But I wrote it anyway. Again, it was defiance. Because I suddenly remembered that I write for me. I write because it’s fun. I write what brings me joy. And I don’t want anyone to take that away from me. So I wrote. I got my 50K. Then, after re-writing and revising, I sent it out to publishers and what do you know? I got a book deal three years later. That book the whole world seemed to tell me would never be published will now be published in November four years after I first started Nano-ing it.

You never know what’s going to happen. But you really can’t go wrong with writing what you love. You can think about trends, but don’t let them govern what you do. Nanowrimo is about experimentation, it’s about fun. It’s about the whirlwind of creating, it’s about the chaos of all these writers embracing the messiness of their own voices. Own your voice. Write what excites you. Because you never know. What excites you might excite others.

And what you write this year might end up on my bookshelf in just a few Novembers. I can’t wait!

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