1. Which year’s NaNoWriMo produced the beginnings of The Mason List?
I started writing The Mason List in November 2011. I had always wanted to write a novel and had talked about it for many years, but I had never set down and worked on anything. When a friend told me about NaNoWriMo, I decided it was the kick in the pants I needed to get started.
2. Had you done NaNoWriMo before? And did you participate in any other years, after that crucial one?
Not before The Mason List in 2011. But I did a little bit later in 2015. I knew I wouldn’t finish. But I needed some motivation to get going on a third book. So I entered, knowing I wouldn’t finish. And it did help. I wrote some content quickly. So technically, the beginning parts of My Lucky Days was created in NaNoWriMo 2015.
3. When you embarked on the NaNoWriMo that led to The Mason List, did you have the plot already worked out in your head, or did it come together during the month of writing?
No plot. Actually, I had a different concept idea and switched about 48 hrs before starting NaNo. And with The Mason List, all I knew – it was going to be about two kids growing up to adults living on a ranch. I wanted the story to have the true “saga” aspect where the story actually had chapters where they were kids and then as adults.
4. What was the toughest part about NaNoWriMo for you? And the best part?
I edit as I go. (Didn’t realize that either until I started). So it was hard to write and move forward. But that is the good thing about NaNo. It forces you to move forward. And for a first time book, I think that is very important. People often get bogged down on chapter one and can’t move forward.
5. How much editing did you do after that first draft of The Mason List produced during NaNoWriMo?
I’m laughing reading this. So the NaNoWriMo draft of 50K words is not even close to what went to publication. I call that my 50K word outline. I worked on the story for 2 years afterwards. My first “final” was 140K words. And then after beta readers, I went back and did a painstaking word cut down to 118K words, which is the published length. I started the story in November 2011 and it was published in January 2015.
6. What’s the number one piece of advice you’d give first-time NaNoWriMo participants?
If you have always dreamed of writing something, give it a shot. You don’t have to show your NaNo draft to anyone. I didn’t. Not a single person ever read that one. But it helped me move forward. After I had at least something down, I wanted to make it better. I wanted to keep going. NaNo may not have created the published copy of The Mason List, but it was the catalyst that made it happen.