NaNoWriMo My Way

I write for young people, and while there are certainly 50,000-word novels for children, most of the ones I read and love are much slimmer than that.  So are the ones I write.  That doesn’t stop me from doing NaNoWriMo.

And I don’t just write books.  I have two blogs going, one about gardening and self-sufficiency called Apocalypse Farm, and the other about books and writing where you are probably reading this post, at  I write political and education essays for The Oklahoma Observer, and my second picture book will be coming out in 2019.  One of my sisters calls me ADHD Girl.

So, how does a writer of short stuff do NaNoWriMo? And why would she?  Because I’m good at getting down short drafts and revising them as many times as necessary, but keeping up the daily focus on a longer piece is a little harder.  While I won’t win at NaNoWriMo, it is good for me to take up the challenge, to come up with a plan to win my way.

This year, I’m writing a middle grade mystery. I have written poems this month, three blog posts, and four essays for The Observer, but I’ve written at least a few hundred words on the mystery every single day.

I have updated my word count daily, and with five days to go, including today, I intend to get that daily progress badge.  I will keep writing a few hundred words a day until the first draft is complete, probably around Christmas.

When it is finished, I’ll put it away.  I have a novel in verse to revise at least one more time and a nonfiction manuscript to finish.  It will likely be summer before I get back to the mystery, but I’m already thinking about next November.  Wouldn’t ADHD Girl make a good superhero!

Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe

If I gave stars with my book reviews, Jo Watson Hackl’s Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe would get a whole constellation.  It’s the best middle grade mystery I’ve read since I discovered Sheila Turnage’s Newbery Honor Book, Three Times Lucky.

Hackl’s character, Cricket, drags you along from the first paragraph:

“Turns out, it’s easier than you might think to sneak out of town smuggling a live cricket, three pocketfuls of jerky, and two bags of half-paid-for merchandise from Thelma’s Cash ‘n’ Carry grocery store.”

And there’s the humor:

“Even at a time like this, it’s important to keep moisturized.”

Head out the door of that Mississippi store with Cricket (the human) and Charlene (the cricket).  On the journey your traveling companions will enlighten you about the nature of art, self-reliance, and loyalty, and how to live with and love someone who has a mental illness.

The setting is real. The characters are believable.  And there’s a little history thrown in, to boot, about this neck of the Mississippi woods.

Love this book!!!