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NANOWRIMO Begins in Two Days

NANOWRIMO Begins in Two Days



National Novel Writing Month begins on Tuesday, November 1, 2016 and runs through the end of the month. In case this is your first introduction to #NANOWRIMO, the goal is to write 50,000 words during the month. If you’re a math whiz, you’ll know that this equates to 1,666 words per day. Or, very long weekends!

Although I’ve written 30 books, all of them are non-fiction. However, I did my best to prepare by taking two online courses: J.F. Penn’s How to Write a Novel and Sara Rosett’s How to Outline a Cozy Mystery. I considered doing a time travel novel as that’s more where my heart is, but for now I’m going to try my hand at the cozy.

Honestly, though. I get so hung up in worrying about plotting that I make myself nuts. Right now I think the best thing I can do is just start writing and see where the stories leads. I guess that makes me a pantser, not a plotter. Ok.

I’m going to do my best to check in here every Friday with a word count and comment on the process. I invite you to join me. Let’s see what we can create.


Tiny Stories – #challenge86

Tiny Stories – #challenge86

Write a tiny story with Nancy Hendrickson

Creative Non-Fiction is one of my favorite magazines. In each issue there’s a selection of “tiny truths”; stories written in 140 characters or less. In honor of CNF, today’s writing challenge is this: Write a story about your childhood in 140 characters or less. If you’re on Twitter or Instagram, use the hashtag #challenge86. I’ll post them here. (I’m @nhendricksonauthor on Instagram)

How to find a whopper of a story

How to find a whopper of a story

What short story does this photo make you want to write?

Want an idea for a great story?  Read on . . .

I’m an avid iphoneographer and I love driving around town taking shots. This one was taken with the iPhone 6S and the Hipstamatic app. (Sergio Lens, Maximus LXIX film). It’s a picture of the Mission San Diego de Alcala, the first of the California missions.

Looking at the picture, I’m drawn into a story of my own making. Native Californians, Jesuits, Spanish soldiers . . . religion, tradition, superstition.

If you’d like to have some fun with me, in a sentence, tell me what your picture-inspired short story is about.

Mine: Spanish soldier deserts the priests and the military to seek gold in the local hills, gets lost in the desert and is saved by . . . ?

Self-Publish or Traditional? When to Go Hybrid

Self-Publish or Traditional? When to Go Hybrid

Self-publish or traditional? Maybe go hybrid


The last time I counted I’d written 30 books. About half are on the self-publish side, half traditional. Since the great Kindle revolution there’s been such a backlash against traditional publishing that I thought I’d throw in my 2c since I do both trad and indie.

The Case for Traditional Publishing

Last spring, during the height of the coloring book craze, I did a little research to see if a coloring book had ever been done about San Diego. Since I live in such a tourist mecca, I thought there might be several on the market. Surprise. There were none. Since I fancy myself as a pretty decent photographer I went on a quest to shoot the city’s most famous and popular sights.

When I had close to 80 shots that I really liked, I found a vector-graphics person on Odesk who converted all of my photographs to coloring book format. The cost was around $1K. At that point I had to decide whether to self-publish or look for someone to publish for me. My original thought was to use CreateSpace but I couldn’t choose a paper weight through them, and I knew I didn’t want a “thin” paper for a coloring book.

Next, I rounded up costs for getting the whole thing printed and it was way out of my reach (or my willingness!).At this point I realized I needed to find a company that would publish for me – and one that I knew could get the coloring book into San Diego’s many tourist locations.

I found Sunbelt Publications, which was located in a San Diego suburb. They specialize in Southern California books and (this was my deciding factor) they had distribution in virtually every San Diego tourist location. Another factor was their aggressive distribution; if I had any suggestion for a place that might carry the coloring book their marketing person was on the phone making a pitch. Signed, sealed, delivered.  I met with them and signed a contract.

Would I have made more money self-publishing? Possibly. But they had ongoing relationships with dozens of the city’s locations – relationships that it might take me months or even a year to establish. Going out and knocking on doors simply wasn’t a good use of my time. I went traditional.

The Case for Self-Publishing

I’ve written several short books that are self-published, Some are for writers, others in the Internet genealogy space (where I’m considered an expert).

Although I could have pitched some of my books to traditional publishers, I didn’t want a gatekeeper making a decision about whether readers would or would not be interested.For example, my Vanquish Writer’s Block (originally titled The Visual Writer) book is fairly short but packed with tips on using images when you’re stuck. I knew a publisher wouldn’t be interested but I also knew there’s an interest in the writing community on tips and tricks to get out of a rut. In fact, this is the book that bestselling author, JF Penn (Joanna Penn) interviewed me about for her Creative Penn podcast.

I’ve also written a book on writing and publishing your first non-fiction book; again it’s packed with information but not really one that traditional would pick up. Nor would I want them to. I have a lot of information I want to share with other writers, and I know this is a field where self-publishing really sells better (in my opinion) and I feel better equipped to market writing books than I did something like the coloring book.

Plus, length is a factor.

When it comes to the types of books I like to self-publish, less is more. I can pack a whole heap of information into a short book and get it out into a reader’s hands quickly. Traditional publishing isn’t that keen on short books. As a reader, I love short books because I don’t want the WHOLE BREADTH of the topic; I want the one small piece I’m trying to understand. If I spend $2.99 or $3.99 on a short Kindle book that gives me a piece of information, I’m good with that.

As a writer, I try to produce short books that answer specific questions. I think they’re valuable; traditional pub doesn’t agree.

How to Chose Between Indie and Traditional Publishing?

For me, the #1 question is this: Who is better able to market the book? Me or a publishing house?

In the case of the coloring book the choice was clear – the publishing house had a far better reach into my target market than I did.

In the case of Vanquish Writer’s Block (and my other self-pub books), I knew that in many cases they were too short for a trad house to pick up AND I knew I could get them out to my readers faster and more effectively.

Your deciding factor may different from mine. But I hope you’ll at least give a thought to which is the better route for you. Love to hear your comments.


How a Cow and a Wildflower Saved my Writing – Kicking Writer’s Block

How a Cow and a Wildflower Saved my Writing – Kicking Writer’s Block

kick writer's block

All writers get stuck.Call it writer’s block, or call it losing a plot or outline. For me it was slogging through the opening paragraphs of an article I was writing for Astronomy Magazine. No matter how I tried coming up with a slam-bang opening paragraph, everything I wrote stunk. I just couldn’t get my teeth into the heart of the article.

In desperation, I got out photos I had taken during the assignment (to the Very Large Array in New Mexico) and there, staring me in the face, was the answer to my stuck-ness: A cow and a wildflower. Duh. I had forgotten to take my own advice and use visual imagery to add magic to my words. From then on, I’ve been a visual writer and would like to introduce you to my book, Vanquish Writer’s Block! (once upon a time titled The Visual Writer).

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