NaNoWriMo-The Last Word


It was 10:15 last night when I put the last word on the last page, ending what I considered to be one of the most important months in my career as an author. It was important, because I learned more in November about creative writing than I could ever have imagined.

I put my life on hold for practically the entire month. I worked on my novel every day, but I didn’t always reach my goal of 1,700 words. It was tough; work, family, Thanksgiving, migraines, and lack of motivation kept me from completing the overall goal of 50,000 words in 30 days (I wrote 40,294 words, but I finished my story). However, I don’t see it as a failure.

I knew a week ago I wasn’t going to make my goal, and confided to my fiancé that I knew I would finish my story by then. But there was no way I would get to 50,000.

“But you worked so hard on it, and you’ll feel really bad it you don’t ….”

Honestly, I don’t feel bad at all about it. I didn’t do it to prove to anyone I could do it. I did it so I could learn from it. I did it for the experience. And now, I know the price I have to pay if I ever needed to write a 50,000-word novel in a month. I would basically have to put everything else on hold and put all my efforts into that novel. I would have to ignore my duties as a mother, a grandmother, a daughter, and a friend just so I could complete the task.

I truly enjoyed writing the novel, but it’s not done. The editing alone will take a few months, at the very least. Which is fine with me. I’m ready to take a few days off to work on all my other projects that have been waiting patiently for me.

My advice for people wanting to do the challenge next November:

  • This will take most of your spare time. Let your friends and family know you won’t be available for the month.
  • Stick to you goal of 1,700 words a day. Once you get behind, it’s extremely difficult to catch up.
  • Don’t give up. (If you started the challenge with a purpose, chances are you won’t have to worry too much about this one.)
  • Gather a support team. Whether it’s your boyfriend, girlfriend, mother, father, brother, sister, kids, whoever; you will need them to help you brainstorm and keep you on track. They will also become your cheerleaders.

Next year I will be better prepared. And I will also have an advantage; it will no longer be my first.


NaNoWriMo: Day 4

I’m up to 5,068 words in my latest endeavor of writing a novel in 30 days.   Three things I’ve discovered so far:

  • Classical music is the best music to listen to when I’m writing
  • I have to rid myself of distractions if I expect myself to write creatively
  • It’s not about the numbers; it’s all about the content

I never thought of myself as one who likes to listen to classical music, but I happened upon a Classical Music for Focus station on Amazon Prime Music and instantly fell in love with it.  Most of it anyway. Some of those old guys can get pretty crazy on the piano.

Facebook is the worst distraction for me.  I am reminded of the scene in Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead,” where the kids are watching TV and the grouchy old babysitter comes in and turns it off. “TV rots your brains.”

That’s the same feeling I get when I look up and realize I’ve spent on hour surfing my friends statuses, instead of working on something productive.

Fifty-thousand words sounds like a lot. And it is! But when you break it down, 1,667 words is not that much to write in a day. Besides, focusing on the story, rather than if I meet my goal that day, is the most important aspect to reaching my goal.

With that being said, what I like most about tracking my words, is that it motivates me to keep moving forward. It also forces me to rid myself of distractions (even though I do need a little down time now and then. Writer’s Block is a bitch.)

Here is another excerpt of my novel, so far.

Edge of Eternity


Nancy woke up to the sound of her little sisters arguing.

“MOM!” one of the twins screamed at the top of her lungs. Frustrated, Nancy moaned and pulled the covers over her head. She heard the girls run down the hall, slamming the door behind them.

“Oh my God! Shut up!” Nancy screamed as she threw the covers off . “Why?” she shouted to no one in particular.

“Why do I have to share a room with such brats?” It was a rhetorical question, but a serious one.

She begged her mother for her own room, citing several legitimate reasons. “I’m five years older than they are …. They’re slobs …. They keep me up all night ….”

And that was just the beginning.

Her mother was sympathetic, but told her it was out of the question. “I need the extra room for my office. Now that I’m doing more work from home, I need the space.”

Nancy stumbled to her dresser and pulled her clothes out for the day. Her notebook was not in the same place she left it, under her clothes. her sisters had a bad habit of getting into her things.

“You brats!” she screamed at the top of her lungs. She grabbed her notebook and ran down the hall to her mother’s room. She pushed the door open and held up her notebook.

“They’ve been snooping again!”

The twins came up behind her and ran to their mom for protection. “No, we weren’t,” they chimed in unison.

Her mother looked at them sternly. “I should hope not, especially after the talk we just had.”

Nancy growled under her breath and stomped out of the room. She knew it was pointless; the twins always got what they wanted.

She got dressed and skipped breakfast, still frustrated with her mother’s inability to solve the growing problem with her sisters.

Her best friend, Kathy, was waiting for her at the corner; the same corner where they had met every morning before school since they were in 2nd grade. It was exactly half-way to school for both of them. Kathy lived four blocks over on Carson Avenue. 

“What took you so long?” Kathy asked, a look of concern shadowing her face.

Nancy frowned and shook her head. “Sorry, the twins were in my stuff again. I have to find a better hiding place.”

Kathy nodded sympathetically and changed the subject.

“Are you still going to Donna’s party tomorrow night?”

Before Nancy had a chance to answer, she felt a swish beside her and instinctively moved over just as Eddie Salaman whizzed by on his Schwinn.

“Sorry!” he yelled, glancing back to see who it was he nearly sideswiped. He nearly collided with a stop sign, swerving just in time, but careened over the curb, hitting the pavement extra hard, instead.

Kathy broke out in laughter. “Serves him right,” she said, adjusting her glasses. “He should watch where he’s going.” When Nancy didn’t say anything, she added, “You know he likes you, right?”

To be continued —

National Novel Writing Month

When I first heard about NaNoWriMo a few years ago, I was intrigued. but not ready to commit to 50,000 words in a month.

Well, after thoughtful contemplation, I am ready to take on the challenge. I have create an outline in my head, and though I know from experience, it doesn’t always look the same where you get to the end, I have a general idea of where it will go.

I chose the title, “The Edge of Eternity” from one of my dad’s stories on my blog, In My Father’s Footsteps.  He wrote about his maternal grandmother (my great-grandmother) nearly getting struck by lightning when she was a little girl. (It killed her pet pig.) He called it her “Edge of Eternity” story.  He didn’t elaborate, but I imagine sitting in a tree and seeing your cherished pet getting struck by lightning is a frightening experience.  Being that close to death certainly makes you think of the “what ifs.”

My “Edge of Eternity” is nothing like that; I just loved the phrase. My story will be filled with mystery and magic, and twists and turns, and you’ll leave it wanting more. That’s the plan, anyway.

A short synopsis:  A boy who saves a girl, only to wind up in limbo-somewhere, but nowhere-on the edge of eternity. The trouble is, he doesn’t even know it.

Totally Stephen King-style.

I will share  few excerpts here and there, but you’ll have to wait until Nov. 30 to read it in its entirety.

The Edge of Eternity, by Cynthia Petersen







The Edge of Eternity


Eddie made it to his desk right as the bell rang. Mr. Piper looked up from his papers and glanced at the clock, and then shot Eddie a scowl. “That’s twice this week, Eddie”

Eddie nodded and took out his notebook.

Mr. Piper cleared his throat and pushed the chair back from the desk and walked around to the front. He sat on the edge of the desk. “Class, I just finished correcting the papers from your last assignment and I’m a little disappoint.”

He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes, then put them back on. “I think we should start thinking about study buddies.”

There was a groan from much of his 6th grade class.

“Now, now … it’s not that bad. I think pairing those who are struggling with students who understand the material will be beneficial for everyone. I’ll start making the list and let you know who you’ll be partnering with after lunch.”

He stood up and put his glasses on, grabbing a social studies book off his desk.
“Please turn to page 33….”

“Psst….” he heard behind him. Eddie looked up at Mr. Piper, who was droning on about South American countries.

He turned half-way around. “What?” he whispered.

“I hope I don’t get Smelly Shelly,” his friend Robbie whispered back. “That would be my luck.”

Robbie had created nicknames for all his classmates, except his own.  Eddie had been known as “Eddie Spaghetti” since 2nd grade. It was Robbie’s “thing.”

Eddie felt a little sorry for Shelly. It wasn’t her fault her mom used a lot of garlic.

When it was time for lunch, Eddie grabbed his sack lunch and headed down to the cafeteria. He saw Nancy McAllister, the prettiest girl in his class, talking to her friend Kathy. He caught her eye and smiled, but she quickly turned away.

Feeling a little defeated, he sulked all the way to the cafeteria. Robbie and Charlie already had a table and he sat down across from them on the bench.

“What’s up, Buttercup?” Robbie asked him, chomping down in the middle of his PB & J.

“”Nothin’. What’s up with you?” he said, knowing what was coming next.