The NaNoWriMo Experience ~ Outside the Margins with JP Barnaby

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JP Barnaby OTM

I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for about five years with varying degrees of success as it relates to the 50,000-word goal. NaNoWriMo means different things to different authors—for some, it’s a challenge, a way to invigorate their writing and get back to daily word sprints. For others, it’s a prison, that number which hangs over their heads every moment they aren’t writing. I am one of the former and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I did the very same book last year for NaNoWriMo that I’m doing this year. Obviously, last year, it didn’t work. I was in the middle of preparations to move half way across the country, and my heart just wasn’t in it. It didn’t help that one of my most trusted beta readers read the first half and replied with one sentence that made the whole thing come tumbling down – “Oh, I thought he’d end up with……” Oh hell, yes he should. Cue sounds of paper tearing so I can start all over again.

I haven’t written much of anything in the last year. I have a couple of short stories from a new series I’m working on, but Anthony is the first thing I’ve worked on in long form. Thankfully, I was able to reuse the beginning and rework some of the other scenes. I translated it from first person to third, and switched some of the points of view to work in the new manuscript. Shae Connor says I’m cheating because I’m reworking in addition to adding wholly original wordage. I did have to remind her that we’re not playing for money or a car. The goal is to have a new book in the process and that’s exactly what I’m doing.

As we move into the home stretch of NaNoWriMo, that’s the concept I want people to remember. It’s a challenge. It’s supposed to be fun. It’s not supposed to be a burden or a prison. If you only write 1,000 words or 5,000 words or 25,000 words during the month – that’s more than you had before. That may even be more than you would have had otherwise. I consider that a win.

On a personal note – it’s been such a joy working within Aaron’s world again. For those who may not remember, Anthony Downing is Aaron’s youngest brother. He was struggling in Spencer, drowning in the wake of Aaron’s inability to function, lost and alone. Now, as he steps into the forefront, it’s his turn to shine. He will take off his invisibility cloak and let the world see him, finally, after seven years of darkness in his basement prison. Because when his parents put him down there with Allen in order to deal with Aaron’s problems—they forgot he was afraid of the dark, afraid of spiders, and brutally taught that there are monsters in the world. One of them had attacked his hero.

Here’s a bit of Anthony as he stands now – remember that this is an unedited excerpt and may change before final publication. Meet Patrick and his brother Bren:

“The AC guy is going to be here between eight and noon to fix the compressor. I know you don’t like dealing with people, and he may need someone to go outside with him. So, I’m going to leave Anthony here to help. He can’t run the register at the store, so I have to be there,” Patrick said inching his way toward the door.

“You’re sending a seventeen-year-old to babysit me now?” Bren asked, one eyebrow raised precariously close to disappearing into his hairline.

“Are you going to leave the porch?” Patrick asked not unkindly.


“Then, yes.”

“Outstanding. When the preschool lets out, make sure you send someone to watch over him.”

“You’re kind of a dick,” Anthony observed, dropping a battered paperback copy of one of the Harry Potter books onto the coffee table in front of him as he scrounged through a worn orange backpack.

“Well, on that note,” Patrick said with wary determination. “I’m going to leave you two to get to know each other. One of you call and let me know how to the repairs went. Anthony, I’ll pick you up at lunchtime. You’ll get paid for being here.”

“Great, now he’s a paid babysitter.”

“Good luck, Anthony,” Patrick sighed and escaped the insanity by walking out of the house.

The door closed behind Patrick and Bren wanted to throw something at it. Fucking Patrick and his fucking babysitter. So he couldn’t leave the house. He could open a window and talk to the repair guy through it. He wasn’t totally useless.



He kind of was.

“What are you reading?”

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It’s the last book in the series.”

“I’ve never read them,” Bren admitted.

“It looks like you have some time on your hands here, maybe you should. The series is one of the few things I brought with me. You can borrow them if you want.”

“You really are a trusting little thing, aren’t you? Don’t you know that monsters go bump in the night here?”

“Monsters go bump in the night everywhere. And I don’t trust you, but I do trust your brother.”

“Fair enough. You want a beer?”

“So you can tell your brother?” Anthony asked.

“No, because I need one and it sounds like maybe you do too. Besides, what else are we gonna do while we wait for the repair guy?” Bren gave Anthony an appraising look. Yeah, he had an idea of how he wanted to pass the time, but surely the kid had better options.

“Yeah, I do.”

“Come on, then,” Bren hauled himself off the couch and led Anthony into the kitchen. Dishes sat in the sink from God knows when. Cereal bowls, pizza plates, Chinese take-out forks—he had food ADD. If he actually had to mix more than two or three things together to make it into a meal, he wasn’t interested. On rare occasions, he made grilled cheese and tomato soup because something in his soul needed it. His mother made it for him growing up when the kids at school were mean or his big brother had better things to do than hang around with him. Bren thought maybe if he ate enough of it, it would make him feel better like it had then.

There wasn’t enough fucking soup in the world for that.


~JP Barnaby

Award winning romance novelist, J. P. Barnaby has penned over a dozen books including the Working Boys series, the Little Boy Lost series, In the Absence of Monsters, and Aaron. As a bisexual woman, J.P. is a proud member of the GLBT community both online and in her small town on the outskirts of Chicago. A member of Mensa, she is described as brilliant but troubled, sweet but introverted, and talented but deviant. She spends her days writing software and her nights writing erotica, which is, of course, far more interesting. The spare time that she carves out between her career and her novels is spent reading about the concept of love, which, like some of her characters, she has never quite figured out for herself.
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Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

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2 thoughts on “The NaNoWriMo Experience ~ Outside the Margins with JP Barnaby

  1. I want, I want, I want! I’m reading her Little Boy Lost series now and it’s painful but brilliant. The Survivor series is equally painful. Her writing is almost a catharsis for me.

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