12 Books in 12 Months

writing books and blogging about it


NaNoWriMo 2011

End of Year Review: The Plots

My festive stay in Perthshire sans graphics tablet has been prolonged, so the comic isn’t finished.  However, it’s a year to the day since I registered the 12 books in 12 months domain name, so it seems like a good time to reflect on how it’s gone.

With that in mind, American novelist Alison Walkley came across 12 books in November, and asked if there was a post explaining the plots of each book.

There is now.

Continue reading “End of Year Review: The Plots”

#NaNoWriMo 2011: Lessons Learned

Like a trainee social worker or a graduate of philosophy, it is important for the NaNoWriMo participant to reflect on their experiences and achievements in order to get the full benefit from the experiment.  So, what have I learned from churning out 50,310 of literary fiction over the past 29 days?  (For the slower amongst you yes, this means I have now ‘finished’ the challenge for a second year).

  1. NaNo is not a time for Literary fiction.  It is a time for quests, humour, twists and silliness.
  2. Literary Fiction is, if anything, harder than I anticipated.  And I was anticipating that it would be well hard.  It is not the sort of thing to attempt in a month.  Not without about 50k forward planning anyway.  At least I now have that…
  3. Write or Die is one of my favourite things on the internet.  It has helped me focus on getting words down brilliantly, and I can only assume that had I known about it earlier this year I would have had a much higher word count – particularly in those difficult summer months.
  4. My inner critic is decimated.  The other day I wrote 869 words in 20 minutes.  These were not quality words.
  5. Other people doing better than you is a good motivational tool, so thanks to Writing Buddies John and Laura for racing ahead and finishing pure ages ago.  Your purple-for-finished status bars on the website galvanised me right up.

Now to get ready for book 12 (which at this point in time is likely to be a series of one off webcomics, although we’ll see how I feel come Thursday…)

NaNoWriMo: Where Did It All Go Wrong

This weekend I started a journal documenting my last-ditch attempts to catch up with NaNo.  This is how it went:

Saturday November 26, 13.40.  I am sitting in our kitchen/living room listening to the hum of the washing machine and the wind outside.  The enormous evergreen in the garden next door waves frantically at me and I wonder how much damage it would do if the wind was strong enough to knock it down – it’s as tall as this three story tenement building.

I should not be thinking about the tree, of course.  I should be catching up on my NaNoWriMo story, which sits at 35, 962 words after a week of work, hanging around an industrial estate in Dundee, applications for funding and writing jobs, and last night an unexpected trip to everyone’s favourite grotty rock club in the cowgate.  As I sat in this very same seat at 4am, scarfing down chunion crisps from the garage, my book was the last thing on my mind.

Time to Write or Die.

Continue reading “NaNoWriMo: Where Did It All Go Wrong”

NaNoWriMo – What Am I Doing?!

I wrote this post last week and thought I’d scheduled it for Sunday, but apparently not.  It’s still relevant, although the word count has changed a bit.  It’s about NaNo in the context of having been writing books all year.

An extract from some email correspondence with my dear Marmee on the subject of NaNoWriMo last week:

Me, Edinburgh, Monday afternoon

I’ve passed 21k so should get to the 23.5 tonight I think, although I’m still not feeling very inspired so it’s basically all attempts to explore the characters to see who is worth hanging it off…  At the moment I’m feeling it’s the least inspired thing I’ve done all year.  But maybe when I come back to it I will see something there.

Marmee, Blairgowrie, Monday Evening

Maybe the whole thing of 12 in 12 means you are more matter of fact and less impressed by your own writing than you have been in the past?  Most of us are struggling to get anything down, which I suspect is a barrier you have broken through.

Continue reading “NaNoWriMo – What Am I Doing?!”

NaNoWriMo 2011: A Progress Report

© Debbie Ridpath Ohi (

Forsooth, tis November already, which means NaNoWriMo must be in full flow.  An update, then, on my progress.

Thus far I have been writing every day and maintaining a pretty decent word count without actually knowing what I want the book to be.  Although this makes my lovely stats page look pretty, overall I’m not sure whether this is a good thing or not.

Many of my fellow Wrimos have been tweeting fairly consistently to detail their struggle to reach the daily word count, and I am beginning to find this a bit worrying. 

Continue reading “NaNoWriMo 2011: A Progress Report”

How To Start Out Digitally


NaNoWriMo has begun and might look like a daunting task at present, so today I have a guest post to motivate you into thinking about what you might do after the 30 days are up. Scottish writer Lynsey May is in charge of Marketing and Events at the Edinburgh Review, and she’s also a freelance copywriter. Here she gives her tips on how to start out digitally.

Continue reading “How To Start Out Digitally”


So the clocks have gone back, in the UK at least, giving us all an extra hour to do something golden and great.  And what have I used those precious extra minutes for?  Finishing stories, perhaps, or planning my literary opus for this year’s fast approaching NaNoWriMo?

Of course not.  I’ve been faffing about.

A lot of people make the assumption that when you’re writing 12 books in 12 months, you don’t do the usual writerly procrastination thing.  Surely there isn’t time?  These are charitable people, who perhaps do not know me very well.  If there’s one thing I can always make time for, it’s wasting time.

Admittedly this year my procrastination has taken on a sheen of productivity, but it’s still happening.  For instance, on Friday night I had every intention of writing, but when it came down to it I knitted instead.

I was able to justify this because I embarked upon a patchwork blanket in January 2009 and it’s been Nearly Done But Not Quite for about a year.  Now that winter is on the way again it seems an entirely sensible and productive thing to finish it, because our flat is about as well insulated as something very poorly insulated – a ruined castle, say, or a cardboard box.  Except actually, this blanket is finished enough to cover more than three quarters of the bed, and we ended up buying an electric under blanket last winter, so we’ll be fine.  And suddenly my knitting doesn’t seem that productive anymore…

Meanwhile yesterday, I met up with a friend in the morning and came home ready to write a ton of stuff… and I fell asleep.  What’s that all about?  I didn’t even have any useful nightmares to incorporate into a horror story.  By the time I woke up it was time to cook tea for another friend coming round, and I didn’t even knit when she was here, I just chatted and watched TV.

Then today there’s this blog.  I ought to be finishing stories right now, or at the very least updating the Ten Tracks site or writing the November Oot for The Broughton Spurtle but instead I am drafting this post, because ‘I haven’t updated for a couple of days and on Twitter I said I would.’  As if there are scores of enraged people who saw that tweet and have now come to the end of their tether en masse – they need their fix of 12 books on this blustery Sunday afternoon or so help them they’re going to tear down this internet.

I don’t feel too horrible about the fact I’m procrastinating, because I think there’s a lot to be said for it.  A huge amount of writing lies in the part where you Think About Things; where ideas are swirling around in the back of your brain whilst you bake scones or catch up on other people’s blogs or click on every link anyone posts on Facebook or Twitter.  However, there comes a time when you have to set this thinking time aside and get something down on the page.

The trick is to stop blogging and get on with it.


I did muck about with my camera this weekend..

I took a break from the blog over the weekend, which is going to be a more regular occurrence from now on in the sense that after this week I am not going to update every day. Although I severely doubt anyone is actually checking for new stuff every day anyway – I’m sure you all have lives.

Anyway, throughout November I’m going to take it down a notch and update on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  This is mainly because I don’t want to give myself reasons not to NaNo, and blog upkeep could certainly become a means of productive procrastination – the trickiest of all the procrastination types.  I’ve cut myself some word count slack in other months this year, but in November I really want to hit the 50k again.

However, that’s next week.  This week you can look forward to daily updates, including another guest post, this time from YA publisher The Red Telephone; a post about writing the sort of post people want to read about; and a few more completed horror shorts.  Hooray!

In other news of things that are happening this very week, I’m going back on Simon Fielding’s Leith FM show.  This has now moved to Wednesday between 8.30 and 10pm, so if you wish to hear my dulcet tones gracing the airwaves then that is the place to be.  He’s also going to be having a chat to musician Lloyd Cole on the phone, so even if you don’t really care about my book writing shenanigans you should still tune in for that.

And finally, a friend linked me to something you may find interesting: writer and illustrator Ruth Lampi is crowdsourcing funds to publish her new book.  Find out more about The Germhacht Episode here.  I have to say, I’m curious as to how there can be a last immortal… worth a dollar or two, surely?

What Is Literary Fiction, Anyway?

Pic © the fantastic Tom Gauld (

As you may already know, for this November’s National Novel Writing Month I will mostly be writing a work of literary fiction. 

I was originally going to do a graphic novel, but if I stick with that there’s no point signing up because I won’t reach NaNoWriMo’s 50,000 word target even if I take the whole month off work and do nothing but write and draw.  And given that NaNo is one of the main reasons 12 books in 12 months happened, it seems churlish to ignore it this time round.

So I’ve switched, and now the graphic novel is going to happen in December and will probably be a three panel strip about Santa or something.  Well, actually it’s more likely to involve a series of cartoons about me trying to write 12 books in 12 months… But I digress. 

A couple of folk have asked me, “hey Ali, what do you mean by literary fiction?  Surely the word ‘literary’ derives from the Latin ‘litterārius’ simply meaning ‘of or used in writing’?  Are not all your books then literary fiction, as they are written down?”

Continue reading “What Is Literary Fiction, Anyway?”

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