All posts by Schyler Marlene, Assistant Publicist

NaNoWriMo: Finding Time to Write Your Novel

A guest post from Hannah Douglas, one of our cool Columbus Press interns. 

Writing a novel can be an incredibly challenging endeavor, even more so if you’re trying to balance writing with other jobs you might have not to mention a personal life.

When author Samuel Snoek-Brown took on the task of writing the first draft of Hagridden, he said he had to find ways to set a schedule and keep himself motivated.

I’m a terribly undisciplined person, really, and I often have to trick myself into doing the work, and no trick has worked better than the friends or colleagues or editors waiting expectantly for me to finish,” Snoek-Brown wrote. “Even if they’re an illusion I conjure or their expectation is one I asked them to have.”

Noting that need for a sense of community, he said he found direction through his participation in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a nonprofit organization that allows writers to log their ongoing process of writing a novel with resources like community forums, progress tracking tools, and inspiration cues, to name a few.

Monitoring daily word counts and tracking my progress along an outline and setting aside designated writing times, these tasks were how I learned who I am as a writer and how I need to work in order to write something as prolonged and as intense as a novel,” He wrote. “I learned how to organize the work, how to sustain it over time, how to impose deadlines on myself and then meet them.”

As a writer, it can be hard to imagine writing 50,000 words of a book draft in a month. That’s an average of 1,667 words per day! Helpful writing tips and motivation are a must. Snoek-Brown received tips and shared some of his own on writing with NaNoWriMo.

For example, strive for 2,000 words per day, so that way, you’ll be there in no time. Or, instead of writing in a linear fashion, try writing the book out of order, such as the first chapter last, writing by each scene, write what inspires you when it inspires you, and so on. And, don’t give up hope if you miss a day or two or writing and think you won’t ever catch up!

When Snoek-Brown was looking back at his original thoughts for what the book what become and its length, he first imagined it too short, and later increased the word count/page count. He chronicled this journey through NaNoWriMo as well, and has continued to do so each year.

The beauty and joy of NaNoWriMo is that it allows us — or forces us — to write without rules, which means that as long as you’re writing and staying at least vaguely within the realm of your novel idea, you should be able to pound out 50,000 words by the end of the month,” he wrote.

Looking back, he said the first year participating in NaNoWriMo in 2009, was his most successful year. After all, his first crack at NaNoWriMo resulted in the first draft of Hagridden.

I wrote other books each November from 2010 to 2013,” he wrote. “Some I finished, some I haven’t finished yet. Some were irredeemably terrible, some still hold great promise.”

With this in mind, what might you (or someone you know) be able to accomplish through a first adventure with NaNoWriMo this November? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and don’t forget to purchase your copy of Hagridden, available through Amazon or the book’s website.

Top 10 Spooktacular Tales


Ah, Halloween, the holiday where we celebrate our fears, indulge in the scary, and become one with the gruesome. While I won’t get into the psychology of what attracts us to the macabre, I will say that our fascination extends further than October’s sinister holiday of dressing up, eating treats, and savoring screams.

Films, for example, give us gory eye-candy and specific images to haunt our nightmares but books provide fodder that gives our imagination more control over our spooking. The following is a list of 10 tales sure to get your blood boiling and heart pumping (and giggles gurgling, if you’re into that). This list is in no particular order:

  1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
    Along with tackling themes of humanity, nature, and science, this classic monster thriller forces the reader to lament on what it means to be a monster (and better yet, who the monster really is in Shelley’s tale).
  2. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
    A dashingly handsome young man sells his soul to the devil; debauchery abounds. A great read for those interested in the moral disintegration of a shallow individual.
  3. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
    A phenomenal dystopian tale following in the footsteps of 1984 and A Brave New World, Atwood’s Offred narrates a story too realistic to dismiss as impossible, making it all the more horrific.
  4. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
    Some may be familiar with the movie adaptation’s terror, but it pales in comparison to a novel many say they can never read twice.
  5. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
    Rice’s modern twist on the vampire story, erotic and addicting, is sure to give any reader chills.
  6. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
    What happens when Satan and his posse wreck havoc in Moscow? Humor, psychotic breaks, and chaos, all displayed breathlessly by Russia’s great Bulgakov.
  7. All Men are Mortal by Simone de Beauvoir
    So you’re immortal: what good is it when, century after century, everything ultimately remains the same? Beauvoir does a great job here of characterizing an existentialist horror.
  8. The Shining by Stephen King
    Wherever evil lives, expect Stephen King to be on the scene to capture it. For anyone murderously eager to relive the childhood fears.
  9. “The Fall of the House of Usher” (or anything, really) by Edgar Allan Poe
    I mean, do I really need to explain why Edgar Allan Poe is on this list?
  10. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
    Another book filled to the brim with childhood terrors, expect more than ordinary standards to collapse when a group of boys find themselves trapped on a deserted island.
  11. Bonus: Hagridden (of course!) by Samuel Snoek-Brown
    Women compelled to murder for survival? Check. Psychotic men hellbent on revenge? Check. A bit of the supernatural in the form of the rougarou? Check. Able to set anyone on depression’s path, this story leaves many glad that the most horrific part of their day is whether or not to skip morning’s coffee.

Tell us about your favorite spine-tingling story in the comments and don’t forget to pick up your copy of Hagridden via Amazon or the book’s website.

Hagridden Goodreads Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Hagridden by Samuel Snoek-Brown


by Samuel Snoek-Brown

Giveaway ends November 20, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

From October 20th until November 20th, enter for a chance to win one of three signed copies of Samuel Snoek-Brown’s Hagridden. Don’t miss out on this chance to win what The Austin Review is calling a “timeless and universal horror”.