NaNoWriMo Me This
And some changes to this newsletter
Hello friends, and welcome to November! Mighty apologies that I've been away from your inbox for a while; I've had to deal with some life stuff. But I'm back and better, and have some updates for you!
In this issue (10-minute read):
Latest from the Suyiverse
Current view from my balcony. Aren't changes magnificent?
As a devoted subscriber to this newsetter, you'll notice that this latest issue looks a little different. That's because I've recently switched newsletter services and migrated away from Substack to a little-known service called Beehiiv, in the first of many changes that will be coming to this newsletter.
A little background: I'm sure we're all aware of how Twitter's new Muskster has opted to yeet the already flaming app into the sun. As I've said before, I've been slowly peeling back my usage of social media, one of such small acts being to delete all my tweets and likes up to the last few weeks (I plan to do the same with Instagram soon). In essence, I've been trying to follow the advice of an author friend, which is that choosing to regard social media as transient--here today, gone tomorrow--is key to developing a healthy attitude toward using it. I've decided to be intentional about the temporariness of my usage (including the time spent on it), and that includes giving it less and less importance in my life and work.
The downside of this, of course, is losing connection to folks like you: fellow writers, readers and persons of common interest. This is why I initially opted for Substack, which allows me to (1) step away from the fleeting, flattening manner of Twitter and connect in a more intimate, nuanced way; and (2) retain said connection with you all via your inboxes.
Alas, Substack has long opted to move in the manner similar to the Muskster and begun to expand their platform into something not just more extraneous (and increasingly social-media-like) but also sponsoring and boosting voices that peddle dangerous rhetoric. I've wanted to move away from the platform for a while, but couldn't find an alternative that did the same things and didn't cost me an arm and a leg (or insist on paid subscriptions) for my meagre 1,500 subscribers. That's, until I recently discovered Beehiiv.
I won't go into the specifics of what makes Beehiiv a decent alternative, but in general, you are unlikely to notice any significant difference in the way that this letter arrives and presents itself in your inboxes. However, there will be changes to this newsletter, a few of which will begin immediately, and a few of which will happen over the next few months.
Free but gated letters: With Substack, anyone could read my letters as long as they had a link. That's great, honestly, but this is a free newsletter (and I hope to keep it free for as long as I can) so the only "payment" I get is new subscribers. Anyone being able to read this and walk away makes it not so fruitful for me. I've since sought a way to gate the letters without going premium/paid, and Beehiiv allows me do so. What this means is that anyone signed up to After Five can read all letters (there will be no change for you), but those not signed up can only read letters I decide to open up to the public.
No likes or comments: Notice there's nowhere for you to like/comment on this? That's because as I'm trying to move away from the social-media-ness of things, I'd rather a letter you just received in your inboxes that you can read without the pressure or expectation of liking or responding (you can still share to social media though!). However, I understand that comments do help foster conversation, which is why I've instead decided to launch a...
Private Discord channel! I've set up a private, invite-only, heavily-moderated Discord channel for all subscribers of this newsletter! I know sometimes you read this letter and would like to ask questions or have further discussions with me. Think of this channel as giving you the opportunity to do that without broadcasting your questions or comments to the entire world, or having to send me a private email. I'll be more present on this channel than I'll ever be anywhere else. Better yet, this Discord will henceforth be the only place I will share any exclusive subscriber-only info. For more information on how to get into this private channel, read to the end!
I've wanted to do NaNoWriMo forever, but have never had the right project (50K words is just so...short!) But ever since writing Lucas on the Line, The Haven Trials and "Five-Thousand Light-Years To Home" in Black Boy Joy, my agents and I have been discussing my growing interest (and portfolio) in writing for younger readers. We've been messing about with ideas for a while, and have finally come to what I believe is not only my best for-younger-readers project yet, but the perfect novel for NaNoWriMo!
It's called Antwan Fashek and the Memory Mountain, and it's a middle-grade novel I'm pitching as "JUMANJI meets JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH in a school trip gone wrong beneath a mysterious Nigerian museum." I can't tell you any more than that (or else I'll spoil the story) but maybe you can glean more from my NaNo profile.
Since this is my first official NaNo, I'll be documenting the process in weekly letters to you for the rest of this month, starting...today!
Week 1 plans
ANTWAN FASHEK is not a brand new project. I've been mulling it over for over a year, sending my agents synopses and outlines to help me shape and prune so I'm sure it has a solid direction before I begin. Which means that as I go into NaNo, I'm already armed with a strong outline, decent character arcs and motives. All I need now is time, a location, a strict schedule, the right tools, and the sheer force of will. Here's how I've mapped this out:
Goals: 1,667 daily word count (and an unofficial weekly expectation of about 12k). I've set up a sheet to track myself. It's unlikely I'll meet the daily expectations, but I'm sure I'll somehow meet the weekly ones.
Time: 2 hours everyday (10AM to noon EST, being the general vicinity of The Youngling's mid-morning nap)
Location: I've decided I'll need an external location to see this through, so I've mapped out two coffee shops only steps from my home. Ideal Coffee is right at my intersection, but if it's crowded, I have two alternatives: Bridgehead and Happy Goat.
Tools: I'm writing this novel with my trusty Alphasmart! I have a fresh stock of batteries ready to go, and I'll ensure to transfer each day's words into Google Docs immediately I return home. I also have noise-cancelling earphones and a Pomodoro app. Wish me luck!
My life-saving tools
If you're writing anything at all this month, I'd like us to be comrades-in-arms! Give each other thumbs-ups, share gripes, etc. This is exactly what the private Discord channel will be good for, so here's how to get in on that!
Once you click the button above, you will be sent off to sign into your Discord account (if you don't have one, you will be given a temporary account, then asked to claim it by signing up). Once you arrive in my Discord server, there will be a final action you'll need to take before the private After Five channel will open up to you (this is to prevent spam, bots & intruders; none of this saves or uses your infomation in any way).
Looking forward to seeing you there!
Latest from the Suyiverse
CanCon, Ottawa, where I was a Guest of Honor last month. I got to hang out with a bunch of author friends and comrades, and meet new ones from the Ottawa area and beyond. I also gave out a bunch of free books!
"Worldbuilding in Fantasy and Science Fiction" workshop (virtual) is a three-week class I will be teaching at Lolwe Classes on Saturdays 5, 12, and 19 this month. Class costs 75 GBP. Costly, I know, which is why I've offered to sponsor one attending scholarship for a writer in need. See application details.
AugurCon (Nov 26-27). I'll be on the panel "The Pen and the Sword: How Research Shapes Fantasy Worlds" with Nafiza Azad, Judy I. Lin, and Fonda Lee. Sun Nov 27, 1:30PM EST.