IWSG: Running On Empty

“Please don’t run out, please don’t run out,” I prayed silently as my old Plymouth Neon sputtered down the dark road.

I was on my way to pick up Dan from work at Blockbuster (yeah, this is back when he was my boyfriend. Holy crap–we’ve been married 15 years now!) I’d seen a movie with my girlfriends and unexpectedly had to take someone home. As usual, I was running on empty. Even though money was tight on waitressing tips from Perkins, it wasn’t that I didn’t have cash. I simply never left myself enough time to stop for gas while rushing around town. And I’d gotten cocky. I’d seen the needle just past empty and made it enough times not to be.

But not on this night. I pulled into the church parking lot off the side of the road, cursing my lack of faith. And because this was before the age of cellulars, I ran to the nearest gas station . . . about two miles away. The nice man inside let me use the phone to call Blockbuster, but it was past midnight on Friday. They’d already locked up, not answering any more calls, and Dan stood in the parking lot waiting for me, assuring his coworkers I’d arrive any minute now as they left one by one.

Old habits die hard. I sometimes do the same thing with my writing. In November, I participated in NaNo for the first time ever.


And boy, did I start out running at top speed, barely slowing down enough to say more than a few words to my family. I’d get up late each morning, exhausted from my 2a.m. sprint from the night before, rush headlong into the day teaching middle school, write all evening, and repeat the cycle . . .  for ten days. Yeah, ten. Perhaps you recall this Twitter update from me:

Jamie M Ayres     ‏@jamiemayres                10 Nov

Haven’t done a #NaNoWriMo update in a while b/c I’ve been, ya know, writing, hahaha! Up to 27,960 words total. How’s everyone else doing?!

Yeah, you read that right. 27, 960 words in just 10 days? You were all thinking I was some rock star, thinking, “She’s got this, right?”


Want to know my final word count for the month?

30, 968

I left no time for other things, putting myself at risk of running on empty again, being stranded in the dark, far away from my husband.

So, what’s the answer? National Novel Writing Month isn’t for me. I need balance. And in the end, even though I didn’t finish the race before they took the clock down, I still count myself a winner. I still have 30,000+ words I wouldn’t have had before. That’s 30,968 words to the last novel in my trilogy, 18 Thoughts. And with 18 Truths being released next month, I’m confident I won’t have to wait a freakin’ year in-between book releases next time. Go me!

I’d love to know your thoughts! What do you do to keep your tanks full? Are you running on empty? Is it time for a fill-up? The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is the perfect pit stop!

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Help Me With My Blurb, PLEEEAAAASSSSE!!

Many of you doing NaNoWriMo know that writing 50,000 words isn’t easy . . . but guess what’s harder? Summing up your novel in ten sentences or less! Now if you’re smarter than me (and I’m not too proud to admit that most of you are), you’ve already written the blurb before you began writing. Well, not only have I not done that for the book I’m writing in November (my third book in the 18 Things Trilogy), but I haven’t even perfected the blurb for the second book, even though 18 Truths comes out at the end of January! Eeep!

So with 2 1/2 months before my book birthday, my publisher asked me for the blurb to put it up on Goodreads so people can add it to their TBR shelf (well, hopefully they will). Which led me to go hide in a corner and ask, “Oh, was I supposed to have that finalized already?” Oops!

Which really translated to . . . I haven’t even written the blurb AT ALL YET! So I sat down October 30th, before Halloween and this whole national write a novel in a month stuff began, and I wrote my blurb. But I haven’t had time to perfect the darn thing. I know it’s toooo long, but I can’t figure out what to cut, so I’m asking ya’ll to wield your literary swords and help me cut this down a bit. I’d truly appreciate any feedback. Here it goes:

Olga Gay Worontzoff ended her senior year as an eighteen-year-old girl totally in love with Nate, her new boyfriend, and about to attend the university of her dreams. Then her therapist delivered the mind-blowing news that changed everything.

Now she’s spending her summer in the weird subculture of the Underworld, where there’s charmingly witty and powerful angels, along with some characteristically problematic demons. But the strength of Olga and Nate’s own personal demons are the greatest of all. Nate’s still grappling with the destruction he left behind and Olga’s haunted by the memory of Conner, the best friend and secret crush she was unable to save during a freak accident. Olga’s one hundred percent convinced Conner is somewhere in the Underworld. Driven by a mixture of guilt and curiosity, she sets out to unlock the secrets her therapist has kept hidden so she can have her second chance at rescuing her first love.

But Nate wants nothing to do with Olga’s hidden agenda. He has other things on his mind, mainly Grace. She’s their first assignment as joint spirit guides and Olga’s feeling a little hurt and—ahem—jealous. His mysterious nature has Olga questioning everything she ever believed about him and now she must decide whether to stick to their plan, or follow her heart. Unfortunately, she makes a series of mistakes that threatens everyone she has come in contact with and unknowingly plants herself in a center of events much larger than she ever imagined.

Lying is unbearable, betrayal is inevitable, and choosing between which path to take is impossible.

Only one thing is for certain: the truths that are uncovered during her journey will leave no one untouched.

*What do you think?


In my first novel, 18 Things, the main character writes a life list of eighteen things to do the year she’s turning 18 at the suggestion of her therapist who is trying to help her overcome the grief of losing her best friend.

Writing a novel was at the top of my own bucket list, something I wrote after my cousin’s son was diagnosed with leukemia. I never meant for my novel to turn into a trilogy, never meant to start another career as an author. I simply didn’t want my life to end with a bunch of things unchecked on my to-do list.

I’ve enjoyed this journey I’ve been on since the summer of 2009, but it’s been a series of trade offs. Finding balance between writing and everything else going on in my life has been a challenge. And I’m sure you’re all nodding your head along to my words . . . if you’ve even had time to read this far!

My sequel, 18 Truths, is all finished and will release on January 28, 2014. So I decided to use November (National Novel Writing Month) to try and write my last installment in the trilogy, 18 Thoughts. This is the first time I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo, and I think I’m doing well so far with a total of 20, 727 words. But the writing is bittersweet. I honestly don’t know if I’ll pursue publishment again once the trilogy is complete.

There are simply too many other things on my to-do list that I want to cross off, and I’m finding there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish them all. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’ll stop writing. That would be like someone telling me to stop breathing. And I’m not saying I’ll never publish another novel . . . maybe I will in ten years or so after my youngest spawn has left the nest. Maybe by then I’ll have so many adventures to write about, I won’t ever be able to stop. We’ll see.

What about you? How do you balance the demands of your muse with the demands of every day life? Participating in NaNoWriMo this year?

We all have a book in us waiting to be written . . . it’s never too late to add it to your to-do list! And if you do, please visit the Insecure Writers Support Group to help you on your journey. We post the first Wednesday of every month!

Buccaneer Blogfest and IWSG