Multi-published Marlborough novelist accepts 30-day challenge
By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Marlborough – A self-described procrastinator, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes of Marlborough has managed to write and publish 14 young adult novels. She's currently revising a first draft, which she completed while participating in the 15th annual National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo.
Since 2006, Atwater-Rhodes has looked forward to November as a reminder to follow the NaNoWriMo goal: Write 50,000 words in 30 days. She met with the Metrowest group at a Starbucks in Marlborough.
“NaNoWriMo really pushes you to just go for it,” she said. “The average person who tries to write a novel never gets past the first page because they'se so busy getting it right. NaNoWriMo tells you to get 50,000 words done. Then at the end of the month you can look back at what's good and what's not.”
She wrote her first published novel, “In the Forests of the Night,” at age 13. Two years later in 1999, it was released by Delacorte Press, a division of Random House.
“When I was 13, I got this idea that I's like to get published,” she said. “It wasn's the first book I's ever written; it was the first book I's written that I thought was really good enough to actually call a book.”
That debut novel was favorably reviewed and landed her a booking on “The Rosie O”Donnell Show.”
“Picture the average teenager: very self-centered, nervous and insecure,” she said. “And then put them on a television show that airs to five million people.”
Atwater-Rhodes continued writing and publishing a novel nearly each year after her first. The subjects include vampires, ghosts and shape-shifters. After some writer friends repeatedly recommended NaNoWriMo, she finally gave it a halfhearted attempt.
“I was on a national student exchange in Texas for a semester and I had the most incredible writer's block,” she said. “I decided I's try this stupid NaNoWriMo thing and write a total throwaway novel. But then I had tons of fun with it and ended up writing something that I thought was pretty good, as far as first drafts go. I'se been doing NaNoWriMo every year since.”
Typically, Atwater-Rhodes reports to the first meeting anxious to tackle the 30-day challenge. This year, she had recently started a new job as a special education teacher and stayed up late the night before, writing progress reports.
“I was so tired and uninterested in writing anything,” she said. “The low point for me this year was the first week.”
Also this year, she decided to try a different genre. The less familiar genre cost her time that would have gone toward averaging 1,667 words a day.
“This time I was writing futuristic, sci-fi, apocalyptic,” she explained. “I kept needing to research everything. It wasn's until November 16th that I actually got a plot.”
Suddenly, the plot thickened.
“There are some classic NaNoWriMo methods for getting more words, one of them being kill a character,” she noted. “So then I had a futuristic, sci-fi, apocalyptic, murder mystery.”
The month ended frantically because of Thanksgiving week.
“I wrote about 1,000 words on Thanksgiving in between a “Star Trek” marathon and making turkey,” she said. “I wrote about 700 words that Friday and a little over 5,000 on Saturday. Being a procrastinator, I usually finish at 11:15 p.m. on November 30th.”
Atwater-Rhodes recommends NaNoWriMo to aspiring novelists.
“A lot of my most serious writing happens in November,” she said. “I go into NaNoWriMo with a plan of producing a novel.”
Her 15th novel, “Bloodwitch,” is scheduled for release in May 2014.
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