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My Novel Idea (for NaNoWriMo)

Posted Nov 02 2011 11:06pm

So with absolutely no prep, I’ve dived head first into NaNoWriMo. I’m proud to say that I managed to crap out write 1,795 words last night. I’ll be updating my word counts manually under my Awesomesauce sidebar widget.

Believe it or not, for all of the writing I do on virtually a daily basis here for this blog, writing fiction – a novel, at that – is a whole ‘nother animal.

But I won’t be beaten!

My biggest struggle is trying to have everything planned out now and I’ve learned through the rather helpful NaNoWriMo forums that I’m committing two cardinal novel writing sins right now:

1. I’m trying to write this novel in order and 2. I’m editing as I write.

It took me about three and a half hours to crank out nearly 1,800 words last night. Normally this would only take me an hour on my blog (in fact, most of my posts average about 1,500 words. Again, brevity has never been my strong suit).

So I’m going to try to stop limiting myself with this idea that I need to write 50,000 perfect words in a month. This is still just the first draft. And first drafts can be messy and ugly and have typos. While 50,000 words can seem like an imposing limit, there’s actually a lot of freedom to be had with NaNoWriMo.

I’m hoping that this will challenge me to truly flex my writing muscle – stretch it to uncomfortable positions and push me to write with more abandon.

. . .

That said, for someone who decided at 9am yesterday morning I was going to NaNoWriMo in the first place, I’m excited by the idea I’ve come up with. Here’s the synopsis I’ve formulated so far. I’ve even made a silly cover mockup to keep me motivated!

Working Title: Unwoven

Unwoven NaNoWriMo Cover

Book covers are not my forte, clearly.

Synopsis: Feisty international food critic Rionna is unexpectedly called away from work to tend to family matters in her native Ireland. The homecoming is strained, however, as she returns after nearly 15 years of not speaking to her mother, Mary.

Mary is the sole caregiver for her ailing mother Anne, whose worsening condition prompts Mary to reach out to her daughter for the first time in those 15 years. With no particular end date in sight for Rionna to return to work, she works with her editor to do a series on traditional, local foods in Ireland while she stays with her mother and grandmother. As Rionna tries to reconnect with the homeland she left through the language of food, she also tries to repair the very broken relationship with her mother.

Rionna’s grandmother passes fitfully after a disturbing encounter with Father O’Brien as he tries to administer Last Rites to Anne. As Mary and Rionna go through Anne’s belongings after her funeral, they discover a dark, shocking secret told in the coded cable knit sweater their matriarch had woven so many years ago, a secret that threatens to tear apart their family and shakes Rionna’s identity to the core.

. . .

Of course I already know what I plan that deep, dark secret to be. You’re all welcome to take a guess at it here if you like, but I refuse to spill the beans until I’ve hit my 50,000 word mark.

I’ve decided to ask you all to help me stay motivated. I’ll post a brief excerpt of my efforts every time I hit a 10,000 word milestone. To keep it interesting, I’ll share just a smidgeon to get me started, but it’s up to you to cheer/pester me to keep writing so you can keep reading more.

Deal? :)

. . .

Excerpt from Unwoven:

Her teeth simply wouldn’t meet. Rionna bit as hard as she could and yet, her teeth would not meet: she couldn’t bite through the ika. The longer the flesh stayed between her teeth, the more acutely aware she became of its taste and texture: creamy but gummy with a fishy tang. The more the flavor lingered on her palate, the more it intensified – and the more nauseous she became. Her nostrils flared as she could feel saliva building up in the back of her throat.

She could see the chef looking eagerly from behind the sushi bar, trying to gauge her reaction from across the restaurant. Rionna’s eyes quickly met his desperate gaze and she tried in one last vain attempt to bite through the piece of sashimi.

Nothing. Just creamy, tangy resistance. She fought the urge to wretch.

There was no way she could spit out the ika now with practically the entire restaurant staff watching and waiting for her to finish her meal. “I wonder who blew my cover,” she thought as her eyes brimmed with tears, the ika unforgiving between her front teeth.

Just then, her cell phone began to buzz against the tabletop. Rionna gingerly plucked the morsel of sashimi from her mouth, her deep teethmarks visible in the flesh as she returned it to her beautifully garnished plate. She gulped a huge sip of water, the taste of raw squid still assailing her mouth and tongue. She picked up the phone before it nearly vibrated off the table.

“Reggie, I don’t know who you talked to here to book tonight, but they know a critic is here. This review is fucked now because I’m getting off-menu items for each course,” she hissed. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see the sushi chef and maitre d’ huddled by the bar, speaking in rapid-fire Japanese.

“Rionna, it’s Nanna.”

Rionna blinked, confused. She took another sip of water.


“Aye dear, it’s your Ma. It’s Nanna. She’s-”

“Ma, I’m in Tokyo right now; I’m working. What time is it there?” Rionna barked.

“It’s half-past noon. Listen to me Rionna: Nanna’s had a fall.”

Rionna went cold, her chopsticks tumbling from her fingers. She could hear the audible gasp from the sushi chef.

“The doctor says she had a stroke. She lost control of her muscles and fell down the stairs. She’s broken her shoulder and she’s in hospital now. Rionna, Nanna’s not so good.”

“Holy Mother of Jesus,” Rionna sighed. “How long?”

“Rionna, I just don’t know. I’ve never seen her look so pale. She’s not talking because they’ve put a tube in her throat. They’ve got her hooked up to all these machines…”

“Ma, I can be there in two days.” Rionna was already waiving over the server for the check. “I’ll call you with details as soon as I get back to my hotel.”

. . .

Want more? You’re going to have to cheer me on to hit write another 8,205 words as fast as I can!

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