Na-No-Wri-Mo Panic

Na-No-Wri-Mo Panic

Na-No-Wri-Mo Crest

Countdown Ten Days

Only ten more days before National Novel Writing Month begins and I will attempt to complete 50,000 words in thirty days. That didn’t sound so daunting twenty days ago. But the closer it gets the more the butterflies in my stomach are multiplying.  (See

I consider myself more of a pantser than a planner. However, with such a tight deadline, I’ve been forced to get organized, albeit randomly, so that I won’t have to waste time looking up answers to questions like “Now what was I going to call that character again?” and “Was that Tiffany or Tiffeny?” and “How old would Tiffany/Tiffeny  be two years into the story?” (See Writing Process: Outline or Hope and Grope )

So far I’ve created a list of characters, their full names, and bios. I’ve scribbled them into a notebook which I keep for writing down ideas that run through my seventy-one-year-old mind like water through a sieve. If I don’t capture them, they’re gone!

Strong Opening and Ending Chapters–Need to Work on What’s in Between

And when I say scribbled, that’s exactly what I mean. You’d never be able to read them. Hell, sometimes I can’t even read them! (You can tell I’m getting nervous about this, as I have resorted to using mild profanity. It will get worse, but I promise I won’t share that with you.)

I don’t normally write from an outline, but for Na-No-Wri-Mo, I figured I’d better not waste time thinking up what comes next.  So, I have roughly divided the story into chapters and written a summary of what each chapter will contain. Again, all scribbled in the notebook. If I have time I’ll transcribe it to a word file so as not waste time deciphering my handwriting.

Thus far, I have a pretty strong opening chapter and a good ending. It’s the part in between I’m struggling with. I’ll spend the next ten days working on that.

Set in Birmingham in 1961

The story is set in Birmingham, Alabama, from 1961-1963, where I spent my last two years of high school. I figure with so little time, it’s best to write about something I know.

One of the themes I want to explore is that of the segregated society in which the main character lives. Martin Luther King once described Birmingham in that era as the most segregated city in America. I want to illustrate through the story how sheltered and protected the characters are. Secluded in the affluent suburb of Mountain Brook, they are untouched by the turbulent events transpiring just over the mountain that would ultimately lead to the desegregation of the South and to the eventual passage of the Civil Rights Amendment of 1964.

Carry Me Home by Diane McWhorter

While preparing to write the novel, I was rereading the history of the civil rights movement in Birmingham. I discovered a book by Diane McWhorter, who won a Pulitzer prize for Carry Me Home:Birmingham, Alabama, The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution. 

It’s a fascinating, but lengthy story. Written from the perspective of one who grew up in Mountain Brook, McWhorter found shocking evidence relating to her father. She discovered that this renegade son of a prominent white Birmingham family had been complicit in the elite establishment’s relationship with the Ku Klux Klan. He had also helped to create the brutal conditions that sparked the nonviolent movement in the city. I finally finished reading the book yesterday and can now focus on filling in my outline with the missing chapters.

Working Title and Cover

Just to keep myself from backing out at the last minute, I created a rudimentary cover for my novel and downloaded it onto my Na-No-Wri-Mo profile page. There’s something very finalizing about a cover, I think. I’ll go ahead and share it with you to add another layer in committing myself to not back out, with the caveat that this is just a working title as well as a working cover. Both title and cover are likely to change before the book is published.


All this talk about Na-No-Wri-Mo is stirring up those butterflies. Or, is my stomach just growling? That makes me think of food and a wonderful soup recipe I’ll make and have on hand while I’m struggling to write my 1,666 words a day. You’ll really love this one! Also see                         


Chicken, Mushroom, and Wild Rice Soup


1/2  rotisserie chicken deboned and cut up

1  box Uncle Benn’s Wild and Long Grain Rice, prepared according to package

2  stalks of celery, diced

1/2  onion, chopped

1 pkg.  baby bella mushrooms, sliced

1 T.  minced garlic

2 T.  butter

3 15 oz.  cans chicken broth

1 cup  heavy whipping cream

Instructions:  Saute celery and onion in butter in a large pot, until soft. Add mushrooms and saute until tender. Deglaze the pan with a small amount of chicken broth. Add chicken, cooked rice, garlic, broth, and cream. Simmer covered for 15-20 minutes.

The countdown continues. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.









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