Plan Your  NaNoWriMo Novel in Three Weeks


November may be National Novel Writing Month, but October is National Plan What the Heck You’re Writing Month, amirite?

Why plan?

Is planning cheating? Um, NO! Listen, no one writes 50,000 words worth keeping in thirty days without planning first, except maybe Orson Scott Card. If you’re with us, Orson, say hi. Please? I’m a huge fan.

Heather and I will ourselves be plotting for Nanowrimo (yes, we’re as crazy as you), so why not plot with us via our webinars? They’re free, people!

These webinars are less “lecture from us” and more “get you to actually do the prep you know you ought to.” In the first minutes, we will explain the first assignment and then pause. Have your word document open so that you can type and brainstorm. Heather and I will also complete the assignments. At the specified time, we’ll reconvene electronically and give the next assignment. We will have two to three mini-webinars per live session.

After that:


You can’t plan everything in three sessions. Instead, you (and Heather and I) will have three to five hours of homework a week, which we encourage you to turn in to us by the date of the next webinar. We’ll look over the responses from three of you chosen by random selection! And offer our thoughts on strengthening your story! Can anyone explain why I like exclamation points so much!? I blame Heather. This topic was her idea, and, as you know, my favorite thing besides writing is talking about writing and this webinar allows me to do both. In order to have your homework critiqued, you must sign up for the newsletter. —> You’ll get an email explaining how to turn in your assignments.

What will we have you plan regarding your novel? What WON’T we have you plan? Week One will cover converting your unique, yet marketable, premise into a gripping opening and satisfying climax. In Week Two, you will make a character bible including journal entries on the character arc of the main personalities. Week Three discusses two options: creating a chapter outline or creating a flowchart. You’ll choose one depending on your preference for “pantsing” a novel versus plotting it.

Sound good? Great.

Here’s Your First Assignment

Though it’s not required, you will like yourself if you please consider the questions listed below before we start the webinar. Send your answers to us!!! We will accept either a document or a voice memo and will offer feedback on three responses.

Then mark your calendar for the webinars themselves. For ease of YouTube channel navigation, we will keep this series under the same title as our other webinars, the Fifty First Chapters (50FC) webinars. As always, if you can’t attend live, feel free to watch on your own schedule after the videos post (about an hour after the webinar airs live). You’re welcome to still hand in homework.

Thursday, October 6 at 8:30 p.m. Mountain Time (Utah)
50FC Session 9: Plan Your Novel in Three Weeks; Premise

Thursday, October 13 at 8:30 p.m. Mountain Time (Utah)
50FC Session 10: Plan Your Novel in Three Weeks; Characters

Thursday, October 20 at 8:30 p.m. Mountain Time (Utah)
Bye-week. BYU versus Boise State. Football fans, you’re welcome

Thursday, October 27, at 8:30 p.m. Mountain Time (Utah)
50FC Session 11: Plan Your Novel in Three Weeks; Outline

First Assignment

Tell us about your premise. (For this answer, you can give us thoughts about one plot. Or you can sketch some free ideas that get your creative juices flowing. Pictures, flow charts, brainstorm-bubbles, and open-writing are all acceptable for this answer.)

What genre do you envision this novel falling into?

What are some things you like about that genre? In other words, which parts of the genre do you plan to adhere to so that your novel will fit inside it?

What are some ways your story could be different than others in the genre? In other words, what draws you personally to this story idea? Be honest. This doesn’t have to be a gimmick or fully developed yet. Your answer will likely lead to discovering the hook or twist that will make the story feel new to readers.

Give us some details or ideas regarding setting.

If you have thoughts on voice, how do you see the voice playing out?

Do you envision this having multiple POV’s? Why or why not?

Writers are often looking to stretch themselves professionally and/or artistically. If you’re in that boat, in what ways are you hoping grow in writing this piece?

That’s it! Hope to see you soon!


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Beyond the Rising Tide–A Voice to Love

Beyond-the-Rising-Tide FINAL Medium desat


That’s the sigh of reading a book and trusting the author’s voice to transport me far, far away. Plus, my feelings about this post can be summed up by the following:

I love highlighting new books!

Sarah Beard is the author of YA novels Porcelain Keys and Beyond the Rising Tide and a personal friend of mine. I missed the window on featuring her newest release because I was on vacation during the blog tour, but does that mean I can’t tell my friends about it? Of course not!

Beautiful Story, Beautiful Cover

I remember when Sarah rejected her publisher’s first two tries on making a cover for Porcelain Keys in favor of designing her own–and then totally blew it out of the water. Rarely are authors able to convey in art the tone of their world, no matter how beautiful and vivid the prose. Sarah is the exception! I love her covers.

Book Summary

Kai was seventeen when he died saving Avery’s life, though he didn’t really have much to live for. After spending half his life being shipped around to different families, the only place he felt at home was on a street corner with his guitar. Now, it’s been six months since his death. Six months adapting to a new kind of existence where instead of making music, he uses his new healing powers to save lives. But in his off hours, he watches helplessly as Avery’s life is unraveled by his death.

Avery doesn’t know that it was Kai who saved her life in the ocean, because her rescuer’s body was never found. Wracked with guilt, the ocean she once loved is now her tormentor. As her surfboards collect dust in the garage, the weight of her grief destroys her relationships and stretches her to a breaking point.

Always willing to break rules for those he loves, Kai steals a ring that temporarily gives his body substance. With limited time, he does all he can to restore her life to the way it was before his tragic death, but Kai’s half-baked plans rarely turn out the way he thinks they will.


My mind retraces the past few months, all the conversations Tyler and I have had, the words we’ve said and haven’t said, all stemming from one incident, one day. And then I’m thrown back to that afternoon, back into the ocean and the cold, roiling waves. I feel them around me, tossing me this way and that, pounding over my head like a stampede of wild horses. I feel the salt stinging my eyes and see the abyss below me in the moment I dove under to find the boy. I saw him there, motionless and suspended in the deep, just out of reach.

Just out of reach.

My face feels hot, and I can’t breathe. But I keep my panic cloaked beneath my skin. A violent earthquake rattles my insides, but I tense my muscles, holding it in, restraining it, refusing to let it show. I dig my nails into my arm, anchoring them there, anchoring me into stillness, and I focus all my attention on the present physical pain in my arm.

Kai’s hand reaches for mine. His touch stills my insides, draws out the tremors as though they’re water and he’s a sponge.

Check Out the First Pages

I’m too late to have my readers enter any of Sarah’s giveaways, but check out her first pages. As you noticed, her voice is precious and she keeps romance at the forefront of the story. Hope you enjoy it!

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