NaNoWriMo Close


This is it, everyone. The last day of NaNoWriMo 2015. I did it!


Some of us finished in the third week, like my friend Laurence. Some of us were madly writing away on the very last day with only a little bit more to go, like me. Some of us weren’t even close to finishing, but kept on writing anyways.

Congratulations to all of us. It’s a difficult challenge to write 50000 words in just one month. Even the decision to try to write a novel is a hard challenge to face, so I hope that you can look back on your work this month and be proud of yourself for what you have accomplished.

I had an interesting time of it. I wasn’t expecting to follow the set pattern of 1667 words a day, but I’ve stuck to it, which I haven’t done before. This is my third year participating in NaNoWriMo, and in the past, I’ve fallen behind and tried to finish thousands of words in one day. One year I managed to finish, and one year I didn’t. So I’m proud that I made a goal and I stuck to it this time.

This was definitely a year for firsts. This time, not only did I attend a write-in for NaNoWriMo, but I was the one to organize it. Now that I’ve done it once, I think I can possibly do it again.

Also, I did the first third of my writing in the hospital by hand, which was yet another challenge. I think that I’ve done pretty well.

So, yet another year comes to a close. I’ve got an entire 50 000 word novel to revise and get beta readers for. I already have all sorts of additions in mind, and it was difficult not to go and correct them during the writing process. But now I have scads of time to go do that.

So I’ll see you again next year everyone, and until then, I hope you can meet all your writing challenges with determination.

Patreon account


Hey everyone,

I found this new handy-dandy site called Patreon.


It’s a place where creators such as writers, artists, web designers or anything like that, can have a creator site and consumers like readers can pledge their supports for that writer.

A person who is pledging to help the artist can pledge as little as $1 to however much they like. In return, the creator will create content. The creator can also reward the people who pledge to them with anything.

So I’ve set up a Patreon account under my penname. For the first 10 people who make a pledge to me, they will each receive an ebook copy of my short novella Love Rampage.

I think this is a great idea, and hopefully a lot more artists and writers will also consider getting a Patreon account.


NaNoWriMo Crunch


It’s day 21 of NaNoWriMo, and I’m 36313 words into my NaNo novel. It’s been a steady upward battle for me this year, but at least I (probably) won’t be writing 12000 words in one day like I did one year.

I’ve found that my model of planning two chapters in advance works quite well for me because quite often, if I write a whole outline then sometimes the story will veer far off course and I’ll have to scrap it anyway.

I will definitely need to revise and edit a lot before I’m satisfied with my story, this one will be pretty bare bones when I finish it. Also, the story arc is nowhere close to being finished, so I’m thinking that this is definitely going to be a series. I haven’t written a series before, so this is going to be a steep learning curve for me, I think. I’m looking forward to it, and even have possible titles in the works.

Speaking of titles, I only have a working title for this story, so I’m going to need to try and figure out if I’m going to stick with that or change it. As a few of you may know, one of my strategies of coming up with a title is to create a mind map to try and figure out themes in my story and then find a title from that. I’ll probably wait until I’m done the novel to do that.

I got to host a write-in last night, which was fun. I’m starting to get the hang of organizing things, and I’ve often found it’s the taking of responsibility that is hard, rather than actually setting things up. That part was actually fairly easy. I also got to meet some local writers, which was great. I’m hoping to host another write in next week, so I’ll tell you how that goes later.

As for now, I’ll just keep plugging away at my word count. I’m a bit ahead of the game now, but there’s no time to relax until all 50000 words are done.

My NaNoWriMo 2015


Hey all, as you probably saw from my last post, I started off the first half of NaNoWriMo while I was in the hospital. Because of this, I had to start writing my project by hand! My sister bought be a notebook, and I started writing in that. It’s been years since I wrote longhand, so it was a bit tricky. But I managed!



It’s day 16 (as I’m writing this), and I have 25000 words so far. I’m supposed to be at 26667, so I guess I’ll have to get on that after I finish this blog post. (To those of you worried about my dates, I’m scheduling this for the 18th, but wrote it the 16th).

What’s happened so far? My characters are shaping up nicely, which is always good. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to get a good voice for my characters without my notes that were on my computer, but I think I’m good on that front.

As for my plot, I’m generally a planner, but this year I had to do things a bit differently, so I’ve been using different tactics for my writing campaign. I’ve been planning only two chapters in advance, while the rest is all vague future plot points. It’s been working pretty well, even though I usually like making sure that I have the end plotted out. Who knows how this one will end!


A few other people I’ve noticed are also doing NaNoWriMo, so a shout out to them, especially my friend Laurence who probably has twice the amount of words that I have right now. He’s been steamrollering through this thing. I’ll be happy to finish this with 50 000 words.

I’m so glad that I’ve been able to write again. I thought I’d forgotten how to.

I still have half a novel to go, but the first half is great. I created a pronoun for my dragons which doesn’t actually have a human equivalent, so that’s fun. I’m going to have a great time trying to find a symbol that looks dragon-y and inserting it there.

I think I’ve gotten a bit better at character’s emotions, or maybe it’s actually my own emotions I’m better at, and it’s translating into writing. Whatever the reason, it seems to be working out for me.

As for the story, it’s going to have quite the arc, because a small thing that I had happen suddenly decided to become a whole revolution while I wasn’t looking, and will probably end up being a civil war… by the end of this novel. So it looks like I’ll possibly have a series on my hands, which is exciting, since I’ve never had one of those before.

I’m actually kind of excited, because there’s lots going on in this novel. It’s slightly steampunk, but also with dragons, because they have steam and coal power which is made easier, thanks to dragons. 

I’m very excited, and I’m already looking for beta-readers to plot check it when I’m done.

If you want to follow my updates, I’m on twitter as @aa_powell

If anyone wants a short excerpt of this project (it’s unedited, so finished project might be a bit different) give me a page number in the comments or on Twitter and I’ll choose 50-100 words to post!

About Depression


Hello everyone,

I just wanted to talk to you all about something that has impacted my personal life, and how it has affected my life and my writing.

I was recently hospitalized because of suicidal impulses. I was in the psych ward for three and a half weeks, and when I first checked myself into the hospital through the walk-in emergency, I was in a very bad place, and it took all my willpower to get me to the hospital.

I was diagnosed with depression and minor psychosis, but for a while, the doctors were worried I might have early symptoms of schizophrenia. Thankfully, the doctors have decided I’m at a low risk for that now.

Up until the point I went to the hospital, I was barely functional. I hardly even managed to go to work, never mind do all my grad school applications or anything else. The everything else I’m talking about is largely writing, which I used to do lots of and enjoy. What happens with depression is that things you once loved doing are somehow tedious and take more work than you feel like putting out. In fact, you don’t feel like doing much of anything, and it’s not just that you don’t feel like it, but your motivation to do so is completely gone. Depression makes a person think, “What’s the point of this?” about every single thing.

I also had symptoms of psychosis, which the doctors suspected because I couldn’t differentiate whether a thought I had was my own thought or not. The doctors explained psychosis in this way: your brain takes past memories of thoughts, sounds, and sights and recycles it back through your brain in a huge feedback loop. Fun times.

So, I was in hospital for a while, and was put on some medications with an interesting list of possible side effects.

Why am I telling you all this?

I’m telling you this because I am one of the 20% of people who have depression, and I am here to tell you that once you get to the point that you can’t function, you need help. Please, for the love of all that’s holy (or not, as the case may be) make sure your mental health is taken care of before it takes care of it for you. Do it, because if you ignore it, like I did, it doesn’t get better, it gets worse.

You do not want to end up in hospital. Trust me on that one.

That’s not to say that the psych ward is anything like “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” I spent three and a half weeks with the nicest, most sincere, most supportive people you could ever meet. And that’s just my fellow patients, never mind the psych nurses who were always there to talk to no matter what time of day or night, and the doctors, who patiently talked me through my symptoms and reactions to medications until we found the right combination.

I was committed to the hospital under Canada’s Mental Health Act, and that means that I couldn’t leave the ward. It means that if I had left after the point which the doctors decided I was a danger to myself, then the police would come track me down. It means that I wasn’t allowed to wear my own clothes until the doctor was sure I was safe to have them back. It means sleepless nights, hospital food, and only seeing your loved ones at certain times of the day.

I am telling you this because, for some reason, having a mental health disorder is still seen as a stigma. I am telling you this because we need to have this conversation.

I am telling you this because people have died without the proper treatment, treatment that they didn’t seek because of social stigmas against mental illness.

Mostly, I am telling you this to let other people with mental illness know that they are not alone, and that lots of people are going through a similar journey. Mental illnesses such as anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and even addiction are somewhat common, and the reason you think they aren’t is because no one talks about them.

I’m talking about them now.

My time on the psych ward is over now. I found the right medication, and it’s doing exactly what it’s supposed to. I feel brighter, lighter, and more optimistic (also less voices in my head. Very helpful). Medication is only half the battle though, and the other half is all me. I’m trying my best to overcome mental illness by finding better ways of coping with negative thoughts and feelings, thinking positively, and finding ways to reroute my thought patterns.

As for writing, I’ve even been able to start working on projects again. It was so hard before, because nothing, no matter what idea, seemed interesting to me. I’ve already got back on track by doing NaNoWriMo. I wasn’t allowed my phone or my laptop while in hospital, so I’ve been writing by hand. I’ve got 25000 words so far! Not bad for getting back into the swing of things.

It’s hard. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Fighting mental illness is very, very difficult, and getting back to your old self is a lot of work.

I’m open to questions, and also to writing more on any subject related to this if requested.

Please stay safe everyone, and take care of yourself, body and mind.