Daily Archives: November 21, 2011

Guest post: ‘Add Zombies and Stir: Five Unique Ideas for Spicing Up Your NaNo Book’ by Rochelle Melander

Being way behind (20 days!) with NaNoWriMo, I’m especially delighted to bring you tonight’s extra guest blog post, on the topic of NaNoWriMo, by author and coach Rochelle Melander.

‘Add Zombies and Stir: Five Unique Ideas for Spicing Up Your NaNo Book’

We have nine days left to succeed at National Novel Writing Month. That’s nine days to get to the point, tie up the plot, or simply cross the word count finish line. If you’re like me, you used up your best ideas back in the first week, when this whole thing was a fresh adventure. Now you may be tired, cranky, and worried about how you will possibly survive both Thanksgiving and the end of NaNoWriMo without hurting someone. If ever you needed a Hail Mary pass, it is now. Worry not, weary writers! Here are five items you can add to your novel that will create conflict, add interesting details, and possibly help you finish writing on time!

  1. Tofurky. Most of the time, our individual food choices do not seem to matter to others. But during the holiday season, family members may fight over each other’s food preferences. Are your characters experiencing Thanksgiving right along with you? If so, throw a Tofurky-eating vegetarian character into the mix and see how the conflict unfolds. Or have a bird-eating character experience his first taste of tofurky.
  2. Space Junk. When space programs leave behind objects that no longer serve any purpose, they float around in space and, sometimes, collide with space vehicles or fall to earth. Though much of this junk is quite small (think paint chips), some of it is large enough to do damage. This past fall, a 6-ton UARS satellite fell to earth and landed in Canada. If your story needs a bit of spunk, try dropping a bit of space junk on your characters, their homes, or their favorite personal possessions.
  3. Bacteria. I recently read that scientists are breeding bacteria for the sole purpose of cleaning damaged frescoes in Spain. If bacteria can restore an old painting, imagine what else it can do. But don’t worry about the science. Dream up some wild new or nefarious uses for bacteria and add it to your book. Let your characters use the bacteria, battle it, or run from it—that should take up a few pages of action and dialogue!
  4. Virtual Reality. If you’re having difficulty finding things for your characters to do in their real, fictional world, connect them to a virtual world. What mischief might your characters concoct when they are living out their fantasies in Everquest or World of Warcraft? Of course the downside of this activity—as the writer, you will have to explore these worlds. Don’t get lost in a virtual reality and forget to finish your NaNoWriMo project!
  5. Vampires, Killer Monkeys, and Zombies. It’s an old trick but a fun one. When you cannot figure out how to rescue your characters from impending boredom, throw in a crazed creature. I’ve given you three possibilities, but there are oh so many more to choose from—ninjas, werewolves, and large human-eating insects. Let your imagination run wild—or at least let it run through your memory of old Buffy episodes—and find a villain who might add some intrigue to your plot.

There you have it: five ways to add conflict to your book. Now it is your turn: what is your failsafe plan for rescuing your NaNoWriMo project?

You had me at the title. Thank you Rochelle… I definitely need a tofurky! 🙂

Rochelle Melander is a certified professional coach and the author of 10 books, including a new book to help fiction and nonfiction writers write fast: Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It) (October 2011). Melander teaches professionals how to get published, establish credibility, and navigate the new world of social media. In 2006, Rochelle founded Dream Keepers Writing Group, a program that teaches writing to at-risk tweens and teens. Visit her online at

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!).

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with historical novelist Anna Patrizio – the one hundred and ninety-fifth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.


Tags: , , , , , ,

Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast ‘short stories’ episode 001

Today saw the first Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast ‘short stories’ episode. As listeners to the podcast will know these episodes have recently been alternate hints & tips and red pen critique sessions. Well, to add something else into the mixture every other episode hereafter will be flash fiction (less than 1,000 words) or short stories (over 1,000 words). This means that the hints & tips episodes will be once a month as will the ‘red pen’ critiques, with these short stories in between.

I’m starting off the next few weeks with the flash fiction that have appeared on this blog as ‘Flash Fiction Fridays’. Because they’re short and, at the moment, I have plenty of them, I’ll be reading out two per fortnight and started today with ‘Captain Jack’s Cave’ (at 716 words) by crime novelist Neil L Yuzuk and Marla Madison’s 511-word ‘Halloween night’.

I won’t be critiquing them but just simply reading them out and I hope you enjoy this new format. And although I enjoy creating different accents I didn’t think I’d do the first piece justice by adopting what would work well in Cornish so stuck (or tried to!) with my Buckinghamshire. I then read Marla’s story and culminated the episode with a little about both authors:

Neil L. Yuzuk was born in Brooklyn, New York. Now retired after twenty-two years, as a SPARK Substance Abuse Prevention Counselor, he wrote Beachside PD: The Reluctant Knight, after collaborating with his police officer son David on a screenplay of the same name. The book was a finalist in the Global eBook Awards in the category of suspense / thriller. The second book in the series, Beachside PD: The Gypsy Hunter is in pre-publishing, and will be available in December, 2011. He’s working on the third book in the series, entitled Beachside PD: Undercover, as well as a screenplay: Fade To Light. Another book, Zaragossa: Fruit of the Vine is also in the works. Neil and David’s website is

Marla Madison is a retired Federal Mediator, now working as an Arbitrator for the state of Iowa and the Federal Mediation Service. ‘She’s Not There’ is her debut suspense novel. Marla is working on a second in her home on Prairie Lake in Northwestern Wisconsin where she lives with her significant other, Terry, a beloved shelter-dog, Skygge, and Poncho, an opinionated feline from the same shelter. Marla’s website is

That’s it for this week. Thank you for downloading / listening to this new short story episode. I hope you enjoyed it and I look forward to bringing you another a fortnight. In the meantime, next Monday’s episode will be another red pen session.

The podcast is available via iTunesGoogle’s FeedburnerPodbean (when it catches up), Podcasters (which takes even longer) or Podcast Alley (which doesn’t list the episodes but will let you subscribe).

1 Comment

Posted by on November 21, 2011 in podcast, short stories, writing


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,