Read the first chapter of “Beyond the Veil” for free

Some of you know that I have been working on “Beyond the Veil” on and off for a while now. It’s going to be my second YA book and I am aiming for a finished second draft in September, which might well mean we’re talking about releasing it to the world exactly one year after “Prodigy” saw the light of day. The following is the very first chapter in its current form, to tease you and to perhaps get you excited for the actual book.


When I was born it was predicted I would one day kill my brother.

That in itself would not have been problematic. Our house was always full of prophecies made by mum’s neopagan hobby-group. They loved to predict things based on the moon phases, the colour of last night’s sunset, the time it took until the water in the kettle boiled, or the form of their dog’s morning poo.

The problem with this particular prophecy? Aunt Sophie – who wasn’t really my aunt but my mum’s bff – made it, not one of mum’s clients. While all the women flocking to our house for spiritual guidance and companionship in their wiccan pursuits did everything to look and sound like proper witches, Sophie – who always dressed in a pencil skirt and a well-ironed blouse, her stubborn black hair pulled back in a tidy knot – actually was one. Her prophecies were few and far between. But every single one of them had come true.

The exact wording of what Sophie muttered with closed eyes and a strange expression of “not-quite-there”-ness on her face, when she first held me in her arms four hours after my birth, was:

This child carries a heavy burden. The burden of being the difference between life and death. When your brother reaches manhood, you will be his end.

Well, that’s cheerful, isn’t it?

My parents made sure they didn’t mention the prophecy in front of me and would probably have kept it a secret forever, but aunt Sophie told me about it during one of her summer-visits as soon as I was able to understand enough words to process the information.

I guess they all had good intentions.

I, for one, preferred aunt Sophie’s approach.

I’ve never much liked being lied to and sometimes omitting something important and lying are the same thing.

I also didn’t like being scared. And while my parents anxiously noticed every minute that ticked by bringing my brother closer to his fate, but were frozen in terror at the prospect, I had long decided to prevent it. I read every book and watched every movie that even remotely touched the topic of prediction. And I learned that even if prophecies came from a reliable source, there usually was a loophole.

When I had finally read the fifth Harry Potter book, something that someone should have prevented me from doing at eight years of age, I had a revelation. Grinning like a madwoman, I ran up the stairs to my aunt’s room.

“Look,” I said and pointed to the respective section in the book. “Look at this! You have this prophecy which was made referring to ‘a boy’ and a date of birth but it didn’t mention anything about the family. There was never a clear indication that it was supposed to be Harry. It could have been Neville instead. There was a choice involved. Voldemort just assumed it had to be this boy because his parents had pissed him off more.”

Aunt Sophie looked up from the magazine she had been reading and frowned, clearly not understanding what I was talking about.

I knew, though. There was always an element that you could influence, always some possibility to bend the rules. In my case that meant: I might kill my brother by whatever means and by whatever chance – I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be on purpose – but there was nothing in the prophecy that said what would happen afterwards. There was nothing that said he had to stay dead!

When I was ten years old I signed up for the first aid course in town. I repeated the course until I could have done CPR in my sleep. I learned techniques to pull people from water who were drowning – It involved knocking them unconscious first, which was enormous fun. I went to the hospital to ask the staff for epipens which they didn’t give to me, even though I explained that I needed them as emergency supplies for the day my brother died. Later on I learned that epipens only had a certain shelf-life, so they wouldn’t have helped me much several years down the line.

I learned how to fight in several different traditions from taekwondo to krav maga, in case I needed it to beat anyone to a pulp who dared to attack my brother. I read up on how to treat a bullet-wound and enquired one of my dad’s friends who was an army doctor whether he could show me the procedure in real life, which he refused to do. Nobody I knew owned a gun, but I assumed it would be better to err on the safe side.

From the age of six, I had the local hospital on speed dial.

Throughout the years I saved my brother’s life over and over again. In none of these occasions was I at fault for endangering him in the first place. Somehow Oregon was just quite prone to ending up in life-threatening situations. Dad joked that if it hadn’t been for me, my brother might never have reached adulthood anyways and perhaps all aunt Sophie’s prophecy was about was that for once, I’d not be close enough to prevent an accident. We tried to laugh about it, but it wasn’t funny.

It was impossible for anyone not to love Oregon for the simple reason that Oregon loved everyone. Whenever I was upset, he would come and provide hugs and hot chocolate. I couldn’t have wished for a better brother and I had no intention of having anybody take him away from me. Robert, my martial arts trainer, once said that fear is a bad counsellor, because it paralyzes you. So, according to the Sutherland family motto ‘Sans Peur’ – Without Fear – I balled my fists, ready to face whatever was coming and to defeat death if it dared to stretch out its fingers once more to take Oregon with it.

Faucet Road Number four was just as crazy as it was every morning. As I opened my bedroom door, eyes half-open, not-quite-awake-yet pre-breakfast-me realized that there was smoke in the air. It also smelled very distinctly of burnt toast. I frowned and quickly re-evaluated my breakfast-aims, changing them from toast with Nutella to some porridge. As the smoke stung in my nose and throat, I took one quick breath and then leaped down the stairs as quickly as I could, taking two steps at a time. I rushed into the kitchen to find mum staring at a pile of charcoal black slices of toast which piled up on a plate right next to our new toaster, a chrome-coloured massive thing that could fit four slices at once. Handy on one hand, if you were a family of four plus aunt Sophie, plus random wiccan guests. Not that handy though, if all you did was burn all four slices simultaneously.

I walked over to the window and pushed it open to let the smoke out, then turned to the door to the lower balcony and threw that open as well. A chilly breeze drifted through the room and took the scent of acrylamide-heavy doom with it.

“It’s not working properly!” Mum complained.

“Good morning mum,” I said as I retrieved some milk from the fridge and a packet of pre-packed cinnamon-and-plum porridge from the storage cupboard.

I poured the contents of the packet into a cereal bowl, put some milk on top and put the concoction in the microwave. Ten seconds on, switch off, wait, stir, repeat three times, voilà, porridge! If you did it like mum – put bowl in microwave, turn to one minute, forget about it – the stuff usually exploded and you ended with hardly any edibles left in the bowl and a lot of sticky goo that you needed to clean off the inside of the microwave. It was disgusting. Oregon and I did our best to keep her out of the kitchen, but she regularly found her way back in. And burnt toast was the least scary of the things she had done in the last few months.

“Did you read the manual?” I enquired after a first spoonful of porridge.

Obviously, she hadn’t. Because nobody reads the manual, as it doesn’t tell you anything that the average person’s mind wouldn’t realize on its own. But mum wasn’t an average person. She was the least tech-savvy, least logical person I know. People like her were the whole reason why manuals were invented in the first place.

“It just burns everything,” she said sadly poking her thin, perfectly manicured finger at the toaster as if to coax it into submission by sheer willpower. “I put it on the same setting as the old one, and it just burns everything.”

“Oh mum,” I sighed.

With my porridge bowl in hand, I walked over to the counter and looked at our new kitchen utensil. There was a knob which had numbers on it and was currently set to 5. Out of 6. I looked at the toast. I was pretty sure that nobody ever ate toast that had been toasted at 6. I turned the dial down to 2 – which I assumed should be safe enough and put a couple of slices in. Two minutes later, the toaster spit out four slices of perfectly golden brown toast.

Mum’s eyes almost watered.

“You are so practical,” she said. “How is it possible that I gave birth to a child like you?”

That was a good question indeed and one that I had asked myself more than once. If I had not looked like my parents – dad’s nose and tall build, mum’s eyes and hair – I’d have assumed that I was adopted.

Not that I had ever wanted to be adopted. I loved my parents. I loved the chaos they created wherever they went.

Right after the first slices of unburnt toast popped out of the new toaster, aunt Sophie floated into the room, her naked feet making no sound on the wooden floorboards.

“Good morning, sweetie!” she said, pulled me into a hug and kissed me on the cheek.

“Would you mind going through the routine again just one more time?” Oregon asked when he lazily strolled into the kitchen, carrying our red striped tomcat Oscar on his shoulders and wearing a pair of sweatpants and thin-soled laced up leather dancing shoes.

I gave him a thumbs up and swallowed the last spoonful of porridge before I followed him into the backyard where dad had built a small stage from smooth wooden panels.

“Don’t you want to have breakfast first?” mum enquired. “Io fixed the toaster.”

Oregon, already much paler than he usually was, shook his head.

“Competition day,” I reminded mum. “Don’t make him throw up any earlier than he’ll do anyways.”

Back in the days, we had practiced both ballet and highland together. While Oregon had stuck to it and delighted in the rigidity of the sport and the finesse of the movement, I was happy to just be his personal cheerleader these days.

“Okay,” he said. “I am not entirely sure about the third figure of the Fling, so have a look at that, will you?”

I nodded.

He concentrated and then started hopping on his left foot bringing the right one up so it met his calf below the knee. Side behind front behind. Hop onto the right foot. Side behind front behind. Hop back onto the left foot and turn while doing the behind front behind bit. Repeat starting with the other side.

“Your knee’s not out enough,” I stated. “When you turn, you kind of bring it in like this.”

I demonstrated what I was referring to.

“Damn,” he murmured. “I noticed something was off.”

“I’ve seen you do this correctly a million times,” I noted. “How is it that before every competition you have this moment of premature dementia happening?”

He shrugged.


“Stop them from doing that.”

He rolled his eyes.

“Have a look at my Sean Triubhas as well, will you?”

I nodded and let him go through the routine while I watched with my best judge’s eye.

“Your left foot goes two inches higher up in the shake than your right one does,” I noted when he finished. “Apart from that, perfect.”

Oregon nodded, pumping slightly after the strenuous exercise. There was a bit of sweat pearling on his forehead already. His classmates had belittled his dancing once. Most of the bullies had been guys who had been forced to learn one ceilidh dance back in primary school and never danced a step again, following the example of their fathers who felt that anything dance-related would have a direct and devastating impact on their masculinity. They had stopped laughing when he had challenged them to get through a full dance of that ‘weird hopping about’ he did.

“You know you shouldn’t have stopped training,” he said as we walked back to the house.

I shrugged.

“I prefer the chaos of doing mighty high kicks at a ceilidh to exact foot placement and pointy toes. This is your jam, Oregon.”

He put his arm around my shoulder having recently grown tall enough to do so without lifting it.

“You’re coming though, aren’t you?”

“Watch you win the competition?” I asked. “Sure. Wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

“Prodigy” Book Trailer

Everyone who follows me elsewhere on social media knows already that I will be publishing “Prodigy” in February.

And lo’ and behold! There’s a trailer for it (on my brand-new never-before-used Youtube channel):

Watch it! Like it! Share it! And buy the book when it comes out!

Is NaNoWriMo sensible? – About writing drafts, editing and why I don’t believe in the 50,000 word doctrine.

Some of you might already know that I am doing NaNoWriMo this November. Yet, I am not doing it “properly”. The original idea behind it is: Write 50,000 words in 30 days. Start on November 1st, end November 30th. This equals a bit more than 1600 words a day. Which isn’t that much, really, thinking that on a good day, when I have time and the writing juices are flowing, I might very well get 5000-6000 words down, but – and this is a big but – I don’t always have a good day. I also happen to have a life, as pretty much every other person on this planet. And I have something that in a more severe form would probably count as anxiety but which, in my case, is just a tendency to be a perfectionist and worry constantly about pretty much everything. For someone like me, the pressure of “Get 50,000 words done in a month” is substantial. If I went in with that premise, I’d end up hating not only myself but also the story, because I’d keep on pushing, keep on pushing, push the sky away…

And it would be bad for my mental and physical health and for the sanity of anyone in my immediate surroundings. So what I do is: I go in with a 20k headstart aiming to get to a “Skeleton Draft” by the end of the month. To tell that story. I don’t care about the word count. I want that very first story version to happen so I can work on that afterwards.

Another thing in NaNo is: “No editing!” – You’re supposed to type away merrily and not edit a single solitary sentence. Because it saves time.

I edit while I write. This is an inherent part of my process. I come across something that only makes lots of sense if something else earlier in the story gets changed, so I go back and change it. I also don’t write in order, so I keep hopping about between chapters a lot, adding bits and pieces here and there, which very often doesn’t lead to massive amounts of words, but still is a lot of work and time. Yes, it makes me slower, but not doing it makes me uncomfortable. So what is better: Feeling like shite for 30 days or accepting the fact that you’ll not make that weird word-goal but at least you’ll be able to live with your sentences afterwards?

Now, how does my November look for me this year life-wise? Well, admittedly, I have no idea yet, but it won’t be boring. I might have a new job or will still be looking for one. The only thing I know for sure is that I won’t have the job any more which I am currently working in. I’ll be finishing off my dissertation and prepare a presentation for December. There’s other things I will be doing… Would I have time to write 50,000 words? Probably yes. But would it be 50,000 words that I can live with? I don’t think so. As the perfectionist I am, all that advice out there about “just write” and “don’t edit on the go” doesn’t work. I can’t not correct my typos on the go. I can’t not make the story better when I feel I know how to do that (even if that means deleting 10 words instead of typing 50 new ones).

So why do NaNo at all?

Here’s a thing: “Prodigy” was written during Camp NaNo in April. Well, not “Prodigy” the way it is today and the way I am sending it to agents. No, what I managed to get down in April were 30,000 words of what I called the “Skeleton Draft” above. It was the entire story, but with some pieces missing which were only mentioned as [thing XYZ happens here]. But I knew the story, I knew where it started, where it ended and everything in between (with very few exceptions). I finished this Skeleton Draft a few days early and I was back at editing in May.

My mum got the “First Official Draft” in June. That draft had approximately 45,000 words, which isn’t a novel yet, not even a YA novel, but it was decent enough for me to let her have a look at it. My mum doesn’t read fantasy and her sci-fi experience is mainly based on H.G. Wells. Yet, she enjoyed the ride and came back with great feedback that I could use for a second revision. After that, I gave the manuscript to two friends, who also contributed their fair share to it, telling me where they wanted more information, where scenes needed to be fleshed out and so on. I went in for the last edit in July camp and “Prodigy” is now a 65,000 word book.

What I enjoyed about April camp and July camp was the community around NaNo, all of these supportive people who talk to each other online. It’s a great community, really. But every now and then, someone shows up and says: I wish I could participate in this, but I have a life and I will never be able to squeeze 50,000 words out in a month. And they end up not trying. Which is sad. Because it’s really not about the 50,000 words. It’s about being creative, about starting this project, about doing it! The 50,000 words are just a number that somebody came up with. 50,000 words aren’t even a novel.

So, if you feel like you want to write, NaNoWriMo is a good time to start, because there’s so much support, so many write-ins, so many people working on their projects at the same time as you. My advice though: Don’t bother about word-count! Bother about telling the story! If it takes you a month to tell it, fine, if it takes three months, brilliant! Don’t push yourself to write 1600 words a day if that means that you will be mentally exhausted for two months in a row afterwards! Don’t push it too far, don’t become your enemy and don’t let your story become something you fight with, but something you fight for.

Cover Art – Prodigy

I made a book cover for “Prodigy”. This is a combination of traditional art (me actually cutting paper and glueing it together like a collage) and digital work.

I think it looks pretty neat (even though I still hope my artsy friend will be able to make something much more awesome).

“You clearly didn’t do your research” – About LGBTQIA, political correctness and people who have not walked in my shoes

I tend to hang out in a few writer groups on FB. I find it interesting to see people’s takes on certain topics. I also like to have a sound-board for ideas sometimes. Sadly, it often goes pear shaped (compare my last post about the depiction of POC characters).

I happen to have a rather illustrous and diverse circle of friends when it comes to the topic of LGBTQIA. I also count myself into at least two of the categories included in this acronym. But I am aware that some topics are more difficult to handle than others so when one of my side characters for novel#2, Frankie, appeared in front of my inner eye and was an afab, male-presenting 16 year old, I was like “Seriously, boy?”. It’s not like his gender matters massively in the context of the book. It’s not a book about trans* people. It’s a YA fantasy story! Still, this character was there, in my head. And he was trans*. I didn’t mind, but I was insecure about it.

So I sent a message to knowledgeable friends and asked them if they would have found it cool to see more “casual” representation in their teenage years. They didn’t only encourage me to do this, but they also offered to cross-read any passages that might be problematic. There won’t be many, because this story is still told from my Main Character’s point of view and she gives about as much of a toss about the whole matter as I do on an everyday basis.

I was still insecure though. For once, I have very personal reasons – of the nature not to be written about in public blogs – why I never wanted to write a trans* character into any of my stories. Yet, Frankie is totally adorable and the best friend my Main Character could wish for.

Secondly, I feel casual representation hasn’t been done much. “Someone New” for example is pretty much about the experience itself. I double-checked my outline and came to the conclusion that if this was really too problematic, I might be able to tweak Frankie’s character enough to become a butch lesbian. I tried then to talk about this issue of having a trans* character just exist without the story focussing on their trans*ness on one of my writer boards, to figure out whether I could leave him the way he was or whether I needed to “change” him (which felt super-wrong but could be done if needed for political reasons).

In walks PCWN#1 (who funnily always seems to be a white het cis female) and tells me off for wanting to write a trans* character as a cis person.

She also flat-out told me that if I believed there’s no difference between a butch lesbian and a trans man I should better do my research. (I never said there was no difference. I said I could tweak the character to be one or the other, because guess what, this is my story and I am pretty much the GOD of these characters.)

She finally told me to not do it because I definitely could not relate to the struggles and the experience of this character. (This might be very valid if I had said I wanted to write a story from Frankie’s POV and about his struggles and experiences neither of which was the case, I even explicitely explained he was my Main Character’s friend.)

Obviously, I am not going to write my whole life-story into a facebook post before I ask a simple-enough question. I find it interesting though how people automatically assume things about me from whatever little information they might have (profile pic and the few infos that are visible to the public). I just wish that all of the little social justice warriors out there would take a second to breathe and hesitate before setting out on the warpath. Very often, you don’t know a person’s backstory. You don’t know who they are and where they come from. You haven’t walked a hundred miles in their shoes. So being rude and telling people off instead of offering helpful comments and ideas is definitely not the way to go. Also, it might be very sensible to actually read the question someone posted and then answer accordingly.

I have since written almost 20k words of this story. Frankie is still an afab male-presenting British teen. He seems to be okay with this. I am very okay with it. And my Main Character just beat someone up because they misgendered her best friend. I guess I am going to let the haters hate. If we only were allowed to write characters who are exactly like ourselves, we would end up with very boring stories after all.

Yes, this is important! – About character depictions, skin tone and political correctness

I lately witnessed a debate on one of my writer’s forums which was pretty much the following: If describing a person’s skin-tone, don’t resort to food. I have seen this done before. I have seen it done in a way that I would deem okay. I also have seen it in a way that was horrible and objectifying (and I am not in the least surprised that the latter example came from a New Adult romance/erotica novel – there’s a reason why I don’t read that genre unless you hold a gun to my head or threaten me with life-long cookie-withdrawal).

Now, some POCs seem to be completely fine with their skin-tone being depicted as “caramel coloured skin” whilst others feel massively offended. I am white and caucasian, so I like to err on the safe side of political correctness. While editing “Prodigy” I came across a passage that looked problematic. I had referred to one of my side characters, Joaquin, as having “dark honey coloured skin”. What I had in my head was the colour you get when you have bees who only collect honey in the forest and then you spread that out evenly about half a centimeter thick and this is exactly the colour I imagine this character’s skin to have. Joaquin is mixed race as are several others in the book. I realized I couldn’t go with the honey-thing and asked for other words and descriptions for exactly that colour.

Entrance politically correct writer number 1 (WPCW#1) – who is just as white and caucasian as me – and asks whether I have to go out of my way to describe the skin-tone and whether I am doing it for all characters.

Firstly, this doesn’t answer my question.

Secondly, I actually gave this question some thought.

I have to say that, yes, I need to describe their looks. I am not going out of my way to do it, but I actually have face-casts for my characters (I have a file with photos I stole from the internet and use as references) and I also believe that it is necessary for my reader to know what they look like. Not only does it create a better picture of the character, but it also tells you something about the world that the story is set in. With “Prodigy” I am writing a near future world which has undergone massive changes due to the Climate Catastrophe. The setting of City 5 is in the middle of Europe, in what used to be Berlin.

So if I give this to a caucasian reader who has a mostly white circle of friends and I don’t give them descriptions that hint at a character’s ethnicity, they will – by default – think everyone in this story is white and probably also central European. I have somebody from Spain though, a few Scandinavians, my mixed-race Africam/European boy with the problematic skin-tone, someone with a Native American background and one of my protagonists is half-Japanese. A well-versed person can guess their ethnicity from their names in most cases, but I know that I have whitewashed characters in my head before, if their ethnicity wasn’t clearly stated. It might be the easiest way to just not write about a character’s skin-tone and hair-structure in order to be super politically correct, but it doesn’t suffice. In my opinion, diversity is not the default in all reader’s heads so if you want a diverse cast, you will have to write them as diverse.

As to the issue I had with the “dark honey coloured” skin, I got some helpful feedback from people. One POC person told me, honey-coloured was a great description (not helpful, but thank you anyways). Someone else suggested “old gold” as a solution. I had an epiphany in the end and have used “dark amber coloured” now, which I believe is pretty perfect for Joaquin.

The Devil’s in the Detail

I am currently reading a pretty funny, awesome book and I love it. But there is one thing that struck me as strange. Somebody fell off a roof while climbing facades. The protagonist is investigating his death and decides to go climbing himself. So what does he do? He puts on his climbing shoes while still in his flat and then walks down several flights of stairs and several streets before he reaches the building he wants to climb. The shoes are brand new and when he puts them on, it’s described as “a feeling of adventure”.

From that paragraph alone, it’s blatantly obvious to any person who ever went rock climbing that the author has no clue what they are talking about. This isn’t bad in itself. Even if you’ve done your research, you can still make mistakes. What makes me shake my head though is that this is a published novel in traditional publishing that has gone through many hands before ending up in mine – and nobody picked up on the fact that this description is just wrong. (If anyone wonders: New climbing shoes hurt like hell when you put them on. And walking more than a few meters in climbing shoes is generally something you only do if you are hardcore masochistic.)

Another example (and this led to me putting the book in question down and never touching it again) was the following story: The protagonist-guitarrist hasn’t played music for months. His band mates shipped a whole bunch of his guitars to his current abode by mail but he hasn’t opened the cases since. At some point he hears his love-interest-neighbour play the guitar and sing and decides to join her. So he gets an acoustic guitar out of its case, walks over, sits down with his neighbour and plays with her.

Notice anything? Yeah, exactly, neighbour-chick wouldn’t be too happy about somebody joining her with a completely out-of-tune instrument, would she?

I think I told way too many people about this and have heard the same reaction from almost all of them: “You’re too harsh. These are such fine details.”

Well, for me, these details are important and getting them wrong breaks the flow of the story because both the climbing and the music-playing are central themes in the respective stories. It’s the same as watching C.I.S. and, for the ump-teenth time, groaning in agony because they just put a single reaction tube into a centrifuge without putting a balance-weight in and then hold the bloody thing into the air after a short spin declaring “We have the DNA result!”. (If you have nothing to do with biology: This is not how this works!)

If it’s a minor detail, like if there’s a kitchen utensil that is used only once in the entire book in an unimportant sidenote, I don’t mind if the exact handling of it isn’t described properly, but if you write about a cook who works in a four star restaurant, you should definitely know how to filet a fish and which knife to use for it. Or you should have a beta-reader or editor who knows how to do that. (Side-note: I have absolutely no idea how to filet a fish.)

The devil’s in the detail and if you have important bits and pieces in your story that you haven’t tried with your own hands or seen with your own eyes, talking to actual people – instead of only looking stuff up on the internet – is paramount if you don’t want your readers to notice that you’re clueless.

I’m not saying that I am omniscient and never make mistakes. Far from it. But I am aware of how important details can be.

Camp NaNoWriMo – or how a pantser became a planner

I started “Prodigy” right on time for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo. If you’ve never heard of it: NaNoWriMo started off in the USA and originally aimed at getting people to commit to writing 50.000 words in one month (NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month). The original NaNoWriMo still runs every year in November. It still has the 50,000 word target and it’s very much a fight you fight on your own.

For a few years, they have also started offering Camp NaNoWriMo, which has a social aspect as you end up in a chatroom (called your “cabin”) with 19 other people who also try their hands at writing and you can suffer together. Or complain about how horrible it is to write when your cat is sitting on your keyboard. Or share your devastation over writer’s block. It also has a much more loosely set aim. You can choose your own goal and you can either commit to work for a certain amount of hours each day or write a certain amount of words or a certain amount of pages. You can also choose whether you are writing or editing your stuff.

NaNoWriMo always struck me as too strict. But I decided to try Camp and set my goal to 30,000 words. I have always been a pantser. I had a vague idea for a story, then sat down and started writing it. From the beginning. And somewhere in the middle, I’d get stuck. Always. With Camp being limited to a month, I needed to up my game, so I got my hands on the “One Page Novel Spreadsheet” and several character sheets and worldbuilding spreadsheets and plotted out my whole story in about three days. Afterwards I followed the numbers on the spreadsheet which meant I wrote out of order for the first time in my life. And it worked. It worked so incredibly well!

What didn’t work half as well was the communication in my cabin. People introduced themselves, then vanished and never came back. Most of the people in my group never updated their word count and it felt like a very lonely place. I think the social aspect could be great if there are enough dedicated and enthusiastic people around to talk to, but for me, it was a lonely journey.

Would I recommend doing Camp or NaNoWriMo? Wholeheartedly! Because it forces you out of your comfort zone! It forces you to just get the damn thing written! It challenges you to push your boundaries! And it helped me to find out how much better and faster I could write with a little bit of preparation.

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