NANOWRIMO, or Why You’ve Not Seen Your Writer Friend

The hammering sound you hear is the pounding of keys since the midnight hour of November 1, 2015. It’s National Novel Writing Month: NANOWRIMO, or simply NANO. The goal is to write a novel of 50,000 words minimum during the next 30 days, and that’s a notable accomplishment for anyone with any semblance of a life.

NANO sets a number of good habits. It practically disallows “pantsing,” for one thing. Most participants will spend October, at least, preparing an outline for their work. Personally, I can’t imagine writing any other way. There is plenty of opportunity in even an extensive outline for spontaneous creativity to occur. One must know where one is and where one is going, otherwise one does not journey, but wanders. There’s little enough time in life for purposeful work, much less meandering around the rim of an unfillable plot hole.

The contest enforces writing discipline, and discipline is a good thing. Commitment is a wonderful virtue. The problem with a rigid allocation of time to given activity is the writer missing other, essential aspects of his or her life. Those moments are not only irreplaceable, but go into making writers who they are. In essence, one’s life is what fuels writing a worthwhile piece in the first place.

When I was working on my first novel, The Anvil of the Craftsman, G. Gordon Kitty would come into the den and tap my leg to come sit with him on the Big Red Chair across from the fireplace. Those were special moments, but I often put him off for the sake of my word count. I didn’t know then it would be the last year of his life. Believe me when I say you don’t want to know how such a mistake feels.

Writers generally are artists. Largely they are insecure, obsessed idealists waging a battle where they lead a contingent of How Things Should Be while surrounded by the dark host of How Things Are. Like hard work and commitment, passion and idealism are generally good things, depending on the validity of one’s perspective and values. But all of those virtues, left to grow unrestrained, promote obsession … and that is less than healthy.

No one wants to hear the likelihood of one’s great effort going to waste, but no endeavor offers a better chance of just that than writing fiction. To have produced a solid novel is something of which one can and should be proud. Doing so can and has led to a great deal of acclaim and success, but those wonder stories are the experiences of outliers. So are the accounts of lottery winners, and both industries count on the Skinnerian appeal of intermittent reward aided by publicity. Don’t be afraid to dream, but accept that the world loves the taste of a really sweet one.

In the end, I can’t help but think that NANO does more harm than good. It doesn’t matter if your novel reaches The End by November 30. It matters a great deal if it is a worthwhile project, if it adds satisfaction to your life in having produced the thing, and that it will stay with your readers as you and they go forward together.

This where where the magic in writing is found, not in stress and deadlines and setting oneself up to fail through setting an artificial timeframe defining victory or defeat. The end product is the thing, and whether it arrives n November or December or next year matters not at all. These works will outlast us. I encourage you to give yours its due.

It’s better to write well than quickly. It’s essential to let the work cool and return for second and subsequent drafts. It should be mandatory that it be edited by a set of eyes other than your own and proofread by a third party who has not been part of production prior to that point.

But NANOWRIMO can be where all that starts. If you’ve prepared well and so choose, I wish you good luck. If you’ve attended your other duties, responsibilities, and all else life offers you first, you should be writing.

Choose to Love, -DA


OLSJ_225x337DSIn production news, Boone’s third, One Last Scent of Jasmine, has passed midpoint in primary editing and remains on schedule to appear this winter. My first, The Anvil of the Craftsman, recently garnered five-star review No.100. If you’ve not had a look at the Revised and Expanded Edition, I hope you’ll take time to enjoy the Bonus Chapter. Anvil remains a free download where possible, and inexpensive as allowed everywhere else.

Tolkien for the thirty-third time

I was introduced to the writing of J.R.R. Tolkien by my 5th grade reading teacher, Mrs. Rougemont. We read The Hobbit aloud, painfully enduring others who pronounced the w in sword and committed other acts of disinterested, semi-literate mediocrity.

That was the 1970s. A love of words had already been discovered. The craft, you see, provided a place to go. When one is a child, and his father is gone, and one lives ten miles from the middle of nowhere surrounded by people incapable of projecting value or love, having a place to go was vital. It was, at the time, part of what I did to survive long winters.

I still have those original mass-market paperbacks. They are tattered, broken, since-retired remnants of the fresh copies a young man bought with allowance money. The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, and of course the three volumes of The Lord of the Rings were read many times. Enough times, in fact, as it takes for such a copy to totter on the verge of disintegration.

The Perimeter would be incomplete without its library, even pared down as it is through many moves. Tolkien’s classics remain, now in hardcover, as the Editress is also a fan. She actually had not encountered the stories until the release of Peter Jackson’s movies, and furthermore exercised enough discipline to not outrun the films as they released, though she read up to the point as soon as possible afterward.

Tolkien, as he discussed in the forward of the Houghton Mifflin edition I have recently finished again, never intended to present allegory. His fantasy, the man insisted, had no bearing on the real world. Were that true, I suspect the work would not have endured to the extent it did. The Professor in actuality had quite a lot to say about our state of affairs. All writers do, in their own idiom.

Middle Earth, populated by elves, trolls, orcs, dwarves, Men, Hobbits and others, was born to a purpose in the mind of a genius. I believe, after a short lifetime of reflection, it to be a message and a simple one, unseen if unsought as so many are. Perhaps it was even unconscious as the man wrote. Character and faith are inseparable and vital attributes of a righteous mind.

It’s another law in a universe of actualities. Things are as they are. That which is true has always been true, and will ever remain. The Fourth Age of Middle Earth arrived, and Tolkien’s world sometime after merged with our own. Much that was in his world never was, yet is still. We yet have the challenges posed by evil and our options in acting where we find ourselves, right now, today. The choices remain to serve ourselves entirely, or trust, as Tolkien wrote, that Powers work in the world besides the will of the enemy.

We’ve no elves, but there are others just as fair and perilous if not possessed of the wisdom of the Eldar. No goblins, though in cases it can be argued certain communities are close enough to an orc-hold for comparisons to be drawn. Mordor no longer exists, but we have resurgent Marxism and its child plague of liberal elitism; each of those possesses an enduring diabolic ambition to subject all mankind to its own Darkness.

The race of Men maintains its weakness in the face of mortality. We’re told to have faith and given a limited lifespan to choose our loyalties, set our goals, and discern our purpose in the context of a much larger story. We can, after our own fashion, look west as did Faramir to Numenor that was, Elvenhome that is, and Undying Lands and remember.

We instead look up, and apply Tolkien’s unspoken premise to a faith wonderfully real. The long ages God has wrought in His relationship with children on Earth go on. We have, as my character Jon Anthony presented it, a choice between love and hate, with only indifference as a temporary hiding place before our circumstance forces one or the other. We’ve the long history and testimony of those many who’ve encountered Him, whose accounts are preserved by Providence every bit as well as were records in the archives of Minas Tirith. All allow a reasoned faith to conclude there are, beyond the gray curtain of this world, white shores and a far green country under a swift sunrise.

To discover character and faith, vital and inseparable, is the primary purpose of a living soul. To Realize one’s need sparks the tinder which inflames Exploration for truth. To Accept God’s gift of forgiveness and afterward Live what one believes makes one R.E.A.L. That is a good place to be before things “Get Real.”

These days, as they were through the ages of Middle Earth, are here to bless us or build us, but not to break us. We are made of God Stuff and will not be undone, to our eternal joy or peril. It’s time to choose whom we serve, and ever has been.

Choose to Love, -DA


OLSJ_225x337DSIn production news, Boone Hildebrandt’s third, One Last Scent of Jasmine, stands 43% complete in primary editing. Her contest with elements of our own government remains on schedule to appear this winter, God willing, likewise to be followed by the next volume in Sean’s File, King of a Lesser Hill.

The September Maples

To embrace the experience of living is to reap bounties of all sorts. Thinking deliberately can be such, if one is up to the task. Sometimes, though, lessons present themselves in sudden realization of what was always there. How one accounts for such events is a matter of faith, but certainly lessons unseen if unsought can be presented anywhere.

So it was in the morning taken by ordering the yard surrounding the Perimeter. A glazed pot has sat outside in the bay for the dumpsters since we arrived. In Texas it held a lilac, cultivated by the Editress from a cutting at her mother’s. Potted plants do less well in the frozen north than in the Lone Star State. Being we arrived here in at the start of winter, the tall, slender plant which bloomed for her only a single time—in the summer prior to our leaving—is gone. It sat the first year in the hopes it could recover, but it will not, and its branches turned to sticks in the way of life passed away.

The trees around are largely maples. Each spring showers the property with the seed pods of the silver maples to our south, some of which spiral down to land on seemingly every inch of our yard. They land in the pot where the lilac flourished, too, and spout as they do to be tended only by the sun and the rain. In the pot, though, they stand unmolested.

So I noticed them this morning, with their leaves as broad as any on the mature trees from which they originated, though the largest shoots are perhaps eighteen inches high. They, like the lilac, will be gone after the first killing frost. But for now they are here, and alive, and as it struck me this morning, beautiful standing in such time as they have.

It is a truism that each living thing holds the beauty of life if nothing else. Elizabeth Goudge, an English author of novels, short stories, and children’s books, observed rightly in her novel Green Dolphin Street “Nothing living should ever be treated with contempt. Whatever it is that lives, a man, a tree, or a bird, should be touched gently, because the time is short. Civilization is another word for respect for life ….”

We live in a world where life must at times be cut short. We take in sustenance to live and fund the slow combustion of living with the fuel of our diet. Plants are harvested and animals as well. It’s proper that the grace preceding each meal acknowledges the fact that, as in the spiritual realm, death is necessary for one to receive the gift of life.

With animals, we observe necessity as involving one of the Four Ds. The creature must be dangerous, diseased, destructive … or delicious. With our fellow man, the doctrine here is that he who sets aside his humanity loses the consideration of civilized folk. In no case, however, is the taking of life held lightly. It is God’s portfolio, and each instance is set to His purpose.

In writing political fiction, adventures of all sorts are presented, of course. Homicides  predatory, tragic, and righteous populate the pages of my work. There too, nothing can be taken lightly. In the case of the antagonist, karma waits patiently. But even for my protagonists there is a price paid for doing their duty, and it does not pass without the toll. I write my characters as they are given me, and it has become clear as their stories go on that the burdens of even justifiable homicides build. I write about people as they are, in what my life and my teachers have taught me, and I’ve come to realize that Ms. Goudge was correct.

So, this morning as I began my work, I carefully trimmed away the remnants of the Lilac that had blessed the Editress for years. She has another now, deeply rooted and mature, in the backyard of this iteration of the Perimeter. I left only enough stalk enough to support the young maples whose days are short, so that they can have their time in the sun. It’s as much as any of us can ask. I hope to see their successors in the spring of next year, if we are so graced, because they will also be alive, and beautiful, and welcome here.

Choose to Love, -DA


OLSJ_225x337DSIn production news, Boone’s third, One Last Scent of Jasmine, is 24% complete in primary editing, and remains likely for this winter, God willing. Her debut, Absinthe and Chocolate, is currently on sale everywhere pending a feature for the ebook on Pixel of Ink as slated for Monday, September 14. If you’ve not availed yourself of a great read, there is no better time to start.

Best of the Independent eBook Awards Honors

Pleased to announce two titles receiving top honors at this year’s eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards! Boone’s File Book One is Best Thriller, while Sean’s File Book Two was named Best Short Story after public voting. Thanks to Julie Ann Dawson and company at eFest, as well as everyone who took the time to register and vote! You did this!

As always, retail links for all my titles are available on the sidebar. Read, Rock, Review, Recruit, and Repeat!



In production news, Boone’s third novel, One Last Scent of Jasmine, continues progress in primary editing and remains on schedule for a winter release.  Jasmine is nine percent complete in that stage and lookin’ good.

Choose to Love, -DA


You may notice, in giving a visit to this blog, that some additional content has appeared.  The landing page, as always, has my latest news. About Dale Amidei has been augmented with a bibliography, additional contact information and a new email address. Additional links to other places where I and my titles have enjoyed a feature are there as well. Please grace those hosts with a visit!

Available Titles and In the Works highlight my extant and preview upcoming novels, while FAQs and the Tip Jar round out the content migrating over from my previous home page. As always, links to my retail outlets appear on the sidebar. This site will be my online home for a while. Subscribe, enjoy and settle in. I’m glad you’re here.


OLSJ_225x337DSIn production news, Boone’s third and my seventh, second-longest novel passed Content Edit over the weekend. One Last Scent of Jasmine is now undergoing scrutiny by the Editress in the throes of the Main  Edit, and shall be until sometime in the coming winter. God willing, Boone’s tussle with elements of our own government will be available for the deep, dark nights of a warmly snuggled reading season.

A reminder also that Daniel Sean Ritter’s  Romeo Down: A Short Story, and Boone’s debut, Absinthe and Chocolate, are finalists in public voting at the 2015 EFestival of Words Best of the Independent EBook Awards. Thanks in advance of your trouble to register, vote, and support them for Best Thriller and Best Short Story!

As always, stay safe and sane and Choose to Love. -DA

Boone’s second is in full release!


Boone’s return in her second novel, The Bonus Pool, sets her in an adventure capturing the same second-in-series energy of developed characters and synergistic story line as did Jon Anthony’s return in The Britteridge Heresy. In addition, the rich content, international settings, high-voltage action, and substantive themes made the title a true pleasure to produce and, as I’m sure her fans will agree, an experience to be relished.

Here is the blurb:

“A Chinese dissident, targeted by his government for assassination, flees to asylum in Paris through a joint effort of the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence and Peter McAllen’s InterLynk. A rogue intelligence agent, now freelancing, accepts Beijing’s contract to eliminate the man as a threat to Communist regional control. It is an opportunity to damage McAllen’s organization in the process.

A pool of InterLynk contributors is exposed, and the life of a man capable of changing the spiritual direction of the world’s largest authoritarian regime is on the table. His guardian and her allies in InterLynk must match wits with a ruthless adversary.

The challenge before Boone Hildebrandt and InterLynk Field Operations: find and neutralize a deadly assassin. At risk with a spiritual leader for a movement numbering in the tens of millions is ongoing contributor confidence vital to the existence of the West’s preeminent private intelligence firm.

Approx. 87,000 words / 298 pp.”

As promised previously, here is her Big List of Links to the various retail venues hosting TBP, now that the title has achieved full release:

Kindle Paperback  iTunes Nook Kobo Smashwords Scribd

As always, remember the motto of the Dale Amidei reader: Read. Rock. Review. Recruit. Repeat. To this we now add Ready Yourself. Boone will, God willing, be back this winter in One Last Scent of Jasmine.

Choose to Love, -DA

A word from the Editress / Boone June

And now let me diverge from my usual blog format to feature a few words from the woman who contributes an equal number of hours to each Dale Amidei novel. Take it away, She Who Must Be Obeyed:

As Single Candle Press releases The Bonus Pool, I am reminded of when we first began. After agreeing to edit The Anvil of the Craftsman, I really did not know what to expect. I thought the novel would be filled with weaponry specs and other references that would leave me confused. I was wrong, in fact, very wrong. What I found instead were many well-developed characters set in an intricate, well-managed, thoughtful story line.

When I finally finished my part of preproduction, I was impressed. Knowing by that point reviews, particularly good reviews from readers, were extremely important to the independent author, I wanted to post my opinion on Anvil as soon as it made its debut. Instead, I found that I was prohibited from reviewing SCP’s maiden offering because I had been personally involved in its making. My options were to either keep my thoughts to myself or to impersonate someone else and post them anyway. The latter choice was clearly wrong, and the former seemed unfair since I had not been required by the author to like The Anvil of the Craftsman—I truly did enjoy it.

So as difficult as it was, I refrained from reviewing it and left others to provide the commentary. In the few years since that time, the vast majority of Dale’s reviewers have come to see what I saw in the very beginning with the very first novel:  a real talent for writing. More than once I have reminded him that no amount of editing can fix crap. And it’s true—I merely provide some polish. I’m the Monday-morning quarterback of the literary world. I can suggest a more accurate word to use to better convey meaning, and I can check that we are following our grammar conventions. But I don’t do the heavy lifting. I cannot create in my mind a multitude of solid characters, motivations and settings and then intertwine them all into a meaningful whole that magically comes together by the end. Anyone who thinks writing a good novel is easy has obviously never tried it.

With Boone’s latest installment, I think readers will find a continuation of what they have come to expect from Dale Amidei: great characters, flinch-worthy action, light-hearted humor, a roller coaster of emotion and an important message underlying it all. The Bonus Pool begins shortly before  Absinthe and Chocolate ends. Familiar characters return for further development alongside new ones. Boone’s prowess gives way once more to her poetry. Varying tactics of conflict management provide even more business for building contractors, auto body shops, emergency rooms and morgues around the globe. There are the twists and turns to keep readers guessing. And, just as in life, there is a point to it all. No, this isn’t the same old same old. It’s the best one yet. I hope you all will enjoy reading The Bonus Pool as much as I have enjoyed helping to produce it.

~ The Editress


In production news, our sixth novel and Boone’s second, “The Bonus Pool,” is publishing as I write this. Later this week, an update will feature the retail links once they go live.

Choose to Love, -DA