Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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Happy Halloween/Samhain/Harvest

Or whatever floats your boat. Happy October 31st!

I wasn’t going to post until my usual end-of-the-week, but I miss posting this past week. I was a virtual book tour stop on the Paranormal Bar & Grille train. Stop by the Story Empire blog and enjoy some posts.

Anyway, it’s National Trick-Or-Treat-And-Eat-Too-Much-Candy Day. On a Monday. When my daughter has too much homework–wait, strike that. She has poor time-management skills (thank you (not) smart phone, EXO (Korean pop band), and SoundCloud). She and a couple of her friends are going trick-or-treating tonight despite the fact they are high school juniors and my daughter is taking 5 college-level classes with no study hall (read: HOMEWORK). I guess the allure of free candy is too much to resist.

When I was a kid, growing up in MN meant planning your Halloween costume to fit over a snowmobile suit, or at least a winter coat. Late October has equal chances of being snowy (1991 Halloween Blizzard) or somewhat comfortable temps. This year is supposed to be in the 60s (F) today. As I recall, the past few years have been temperate.

Global warming, anyone? Followed by a polar vortex migration and colder-than-normal winter. Gotta love Minnesota!

Horror fiction seems to be all the rage during the season. There are some spine-tingling flash fiction pieces out there, and even a collection of them. Check out the Macabre Sanctuary for some scary reads.

The key, I think, to scary fiction is understanding fear. Not just blatant blood-and-gore type fear, but the real visceral stuff, like that unease you get when you’re out in the woods at night during a new moon and your flashlight dies. The wind moans. Trees creak. Leaves whisper like disembodied voices. Snap! You listen hard. Something broke a stick.

Is that it? Rustling off to the side. A shadow crosses your path–or was it? It’s too dark to see. Icy fingers creep down your spine. There’s no one here but you, right?

BOO!

Point is, atmosphere is crucial to a good scare. Look at Poe’s work. He sets up the environment in such a way that it’s spooky before anything happens. We humans have primal fears that are survival mechanisms. Not everyone is scared of the dark, or of heights, or of drowning, or of being buried alive, but by realizing some fears are universal, you can tap into them. Cultivate them for your readers, like Poe did. Draw them out, feed them back to the reader until anxiety and tension are pulled tighter than a garrotte.

Description builds atmosphere. You can draw the line between a bright sunshiny day with a gentle breeze and a day of harsh light, cold winds, dull colors simply with word choices. Once you create the scary atmosphere, layer core fears, and twist the expectation at the end. Think M. Night Shyamalan (well, his better movies anyway). Or Hitchcock. Even the Twilight Zone banked on eerie, unexpected endings.

So, enjoy your All Hallows’ Eve tonight (or Samhain, or Harvest, or whatever). Take an hour or two to write a scary flash piece, just for fun. Pull out your collection of Edgar Allen Poe pieces, turn down the lights, and absorb the mechanics of a good fright.

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The Paranormal Bar & Grille – Virtual Book Tour

October starts out warm and sunny, but this is the month when everything changes. Mornings grow frosty, leaves change colors, and the breeze takes on a bite.

Summer dies.

It’s a time for harvest celebrations. A boy loans a girl his coat. She snuggles a little closer and takes his hand. A riot of autumn splendor accompanies the farmer’s market where they stroll.

But the vibrancy of daylight doesn’t compare to the darkness of night. Is that chill on your neck the breeze or something else?

You walk a tad faster and look over your shoulder. The trees creak when the wind whips through their branches—at least, you hope that noise came from the undulating bows.

You check under the bed and inside the closet before climbing under the covers. Sleep doesn’t come easy. The old house groans its complaints, and the night magnifies every innocuous noise until terror paralyzes you—because you know nefarious things go bump in the night.

Welcome to the Paranormal Bar & Grille Blog Tour

…where you can rub elbows with everyone from a gargoyle or vampire, to a creature from urban legend, to the ghosts from realms of myth. Step up to the bar, grab a booth. You never know what’s on the menu, or if you might end up there yourself.

Sound like your kind of hangout? Then you’ve come to the right place. We’re a group of five authors who love nothing more than to trigger the chill that crawls up your back, the nervous glance tossed over your shoulder. We invite you to discover outstanding books and check out our awesome tour prizes.

Enter our $30 Rafflecopter giveaway here, then visit our blog StoryEmpire.com to participate in a scavenger hunt. Fifteen prizes are up for grabs on Story Empire, three from each author. You have the opportunity for 10 Amazon gift cards ranging in value from $15 to $10, plus ebooks from the participating authors.

Just be careful of what the bartender serves you. That heady brew may not be a beer, and witches can’t be trusted to provide effective antidotes.

 


Supernatural Suspense/Mystery

Date Published: April 26, 2016
Kensington Publishing/Lyrical Underground

 “Masterful, bone-chilling fiction…one intense thriller. A Thousand Yesteryears will keep you guessing, gasping and turning the pages for more.” —New York Times bestselling author Kevin O’Brien

 Behind a legend lies the truth…

As a child, Eve Parrish lost her father and her best friend, Maggie Flynn, in a tragic bridge collapse. Fifteen years later, she returns to Point Pleasant to settle her deceased aunt’s estate. Though much has changed about the once thriving river community, the ghost of tragedy still weighs heavily on the town, as do rumors and sightings of the Mothman, a local legend. When Eve uncovers startling information about her aunt’s death, that legend is in danger of becoming all too real…

Caden Flynn is one of the few lucky survivors of the bridge collapse, but blames himself for coercing his younger sister out that night. He’s carried that guilt for fifteen years, unaware of darker currents haunting the town. It isn’t long before Eve’s arrival unravels an old secret—one that places her and Caden in the crosshairs of a deadly killer…

Purchase Links


Mae Clair has been chasing myth, monsters and folklore through research and reading since she was a child. In 2013 and 2015, she journeyed to West Virginia to learn more about the legendary Mothman, a creature who factors into her latest release.

Mae pens tales of mystery and suspense with a touch of romance. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and numbers cats, history and exploring old graveyards among her passions.  Look for Mae on her website at MaeClair.net

Contact Information

Twitter (@MaeClair1)



Mystery/Thriller

Date Published: November 2014

“Readers who like to curl up during the long winter evenings and feel the delicious chill of fear running up and down their spines need only turn to The Glade to have all their expectations fulfilled. The Glade is a horror story in the mould of Stephen King, and rendered the more so by its faint echoes of Pet Cemetery and the even stronger resonance of the pervasive malignancy of It.”—Review by Brian O’Hare

This gripping, edge-of-your-seat mystery/thriller will have you thinking twice about booking that idyllic cottage in the country. Nothing in this woodland paradise within the Forest of Dean is what it seems.

The Wenstrops have it all: health, wealth, and happiness. Until everything falls apart. Helen gets arrested for murder, and yet is either unable or unwilling to give a defence. During her detention, vital evidence goes missing and tensions run high.

Meanwhile, in the woods, malignant forces gather power.

This sensational second novel by acclaimed author Harmony Kent will have you alternately laughing, crying, and gripping the edge of your seat as this roller-coaster ride of a plot unfolds. It will keep you guessing through its many twists and turns, and hijack your attention right up until you turn the final page. This book has it all: murder, intrigue, the supernatural, a broken marriage, a love affair, courage against impossible odds, suspense, and high drama.

“Expertly written, the book keeps you guessing at every turn. What can I say? You really have to read this book … if you’re brave enough!”—Review by Fantasy Queen

The Glade is an IndieB.R.A.G.Medallion honoree, and an Official Selection for the New Apple Book Awards 2015.

Purchase Links
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GNQVPOK – nav-subnav

Harmony Kent is famous for her laughter, and has made quite the name for herself … she’s also, um, a writer … and fairly well known for that too. She’s even won a few awards. Harmony lives in rural Cornwall with her ever-present sense of humour and quirky neighbours and refuses to admit to her age.

If you catch her at work, you’ll see that she also offers editing, proof reading, manuscript appraisal, and beta reading services. Not to mention being passionate about supporting her fellow authors.

Contact Links

Website: www.harmonykent.co.uk
Facebook: www.facebook.com/HarmonyKentOnline
Twitter: @harmony_kent 
Blog: www.harmonykent.co.uk/Dissonance
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/HarmonyK
 


Paranormal/Young Adult
Date Published: March 13, 2015

There is something evil up Bergamot Holler, and it’s been targeting the Hall family for generations.

Patty Hall is fifteen years old. She loves stargazing, science fiction, and all things related to space exploration. This leaves her perfectly prepared for the wrong problem.

Patty is afraid her mother will send her to a care facility if she tells her what she’s seen. If she doesn’t figure things out soon, she’s going to join her father in the Hall family cemetery plot.

Patty has to come to grips with her own physical handicap, survive the wilderness, and face an ancient evil all alone if she’s going to survive.

Will O’ the Wisp is suitable for young adults. It involves strong elements of suspense, and is set in the mid 1970s.

Purchase Links

North American Continent http://a-fwd.com/asin-com=B00UPH6BNS
Rest of the world http://a-fwd.com/asin-com=B00UQNDT2C

 

I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.

I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.

I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Contact Links
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ColdhandBoyack
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Virgilante
Blog: http://www.coldhandboyack.wordpress.com
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9841203.C_S_Boyack
 
 
 


Paranormal Romance

Date Published: April 2, 2016

A cold stone heart breaks more easily than it beats. Than it loves.

Damien was a loyal warrior, killed in battle in 1203. Because of his true heart, he was given the option to pass on to his eternal reward or exist in another state of being as a protector… until the time came when he could resume living the life he’d been cheated of.

A soldier by nature, he chose the latter. And he waited centuries—as a gargoyle—growing increasingly bitter about his choice. Then he sees her.

Rina is a hard worker and loyal friend. She just has the worst luck. One night, after saving her best friend from a violent assault, she finds herself at the attacker’s mercy. Then out of nowhere, a savior comes and rescues her.

With only an angel to guide him, Damien must make the right choices to win Rina’s heart, or be forever damned as a grotesque mockery of the guardian he once was.

 Purchase Links

Amazon: https://amzn.com/B01DSCTGCE
Universal Link: https://books2read.com/STlovesetinstone

Staci Troilo has always loved fiction, ever since her parents read her fairy tales when she was little. Today, her interests are much more eclectic. She loves getting lost in sci-fi battles, fantasy realms, horror worlds, suspenseful intrigues, and romantic entanglements.

As goes her reading, so goes her writing. She can’t pick a single genre to focus on, so she doesn’t even try. She’s proud to say she’s a multi-genre author.

When she’s not reading or writing, she’s spending time with family and friends, possibly cooking for them, or maybe enjoying an afternoon in the pool. To learn more about her, visit her website or connect with her on social media.

Contact Links

Website: http://stacitroilo.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorstacitroilo
Twitter: https://twitter.com/stacitroilo
Blog: http://stacitroilo.com/blog
Pinterest: https://pinterest.com/stacitroilo
Goodreads: https://goodreads.com/staci_troilo
 

 

Paranormal YA
Date Published: October 18, 2015

My name is Zoe Tempest. Just let me say, I had no intention of becoming a vampire hunter. My world revolved around the trendiest clothes, the boy of the week and shopping. My parents were well-off and indulgent. I was the center of their universe. I’m afraid I took that for granted. My life was as close to perfect as a seventeen year old can get. I had everything. Then my parents were murdered and my world came crashing down.

After their funeral, I went to live with my uncle Julian Kilmer. That’s when everything changed. In a manner more terrifying than anything I could have imagined.

Purchase Links
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/nkjfqmc 

Sandra writes YA Fantasy, Paranormal and Historical Romance, and Metaphysical Nonfiction. She lives in sunny North Carolina with her husband, a brood of critters and an occasional foster cat. Although shopping is high on the list, her greatest pleasure is sitting on her  porch, listening to the birds, sipping coffee or a latte and enjoying a good book. She’s a vegetarian and a Muay Thai enthusiast.



Contact Links
Website: http://www.sandracox1.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SandraCox.Author/
Twitter: @ Sandra_Cox
Blog: https://www.sandracox.blogspot.com
 


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Breather

“Julie?”

I hear him. My Muse. He’s in my writing office.

I’m not.

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Heh. I’m choosing not to let him know where I am. I mean, a girl should be able to chill without interruption, shouldn’t she? I relax in my lounge chair, close my eyes, and sink into the soothing whoosh of gentle waves against the shore. Palm leaves rustle in the breeze. The only thing missing is a tropical drink in hand.

“There you are.”

“Go away.”

“Really?” I hear a quiet snick as he adjusts his lounge chair–which I know wasn’t there thirty seconds ago–and rustling as he settles into it. “You don’t really want me to leave.”

“Take a few days. Go on a pub crawl–oh, except Mr. E is still on house arrest. Call up one or more of the other Muses. Leave me alone. I need a break.”

“I just wanted to say you did good. You got your manuscript off to your beta readers. Now you can focus on your other opportunity.”

“Yeah. Hurry up and wait. That’s the worst part, you know. The waiting.” Things move like traffic in an ironically-named NYC rush hour in this business. I get it. A person can only read so fast, especially if they’ve got other things going on.

“So, write something else.”

I slide my sunglasses to the top of my head and look over at him. He’s chillaxing in eye-searing yellow Bermuda shorts and a near-neon Hawaiian-print shirt, unbuttoned to expose his tan, sculpted chest. Tan? When the hell did he get tan?

I lower my glasses to save my eyesight. “Do ya think you could dress any louder? They’ll be able to see you on the mainland in that getup.”

“Why? Too much?” he asks, feigning innocence.

“Gawd, turn it off. And I’m not going to start anything new yet.” I adjust the pillow behind my head and resume my relaxing. “I’m letting the manuscript rest for a couple days. I’m not sure I like how those last few scenes worked out. Besides, my son is home this weekend, and I should do a major cleaning. I think the dust bunnies are mutating. Or, I could read. I’ve got a couple books started.”

Silence.

The longer I know he’s there, the more nervous I get about why he’s so quiet.

After a few minutes, I can’t stand it anymore. “What?”

A slow smile stretches across his face. “You’re doing good, love. Keep it up.”

The nice fall weather is holding out. Colors are just past peak, but there’s still some bursts of oranges, golds, and reds left out there. Trying to enjoy the sunshine and relative warmth while it lasts, since it’s ten days to Halloween.

Where did October go? Once we cross that threshold into November, the whole holiday prep, rush, gather season starts. And what’s with Christmas stuff up in stores already? It’s not even Halloween yet. Sheesh!

To all those prospective NaNo-ers out there, it’s almost time. Finish up those outlines, gather those snacks, make sure the coffee/tea/lemonade/whatever is ready for those marathon writing sessions.

Write on!


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Goodreads #Giveaway: A Cold Tomorrow by Mae Clair #Mothman #PointPleasant Book 2

Check out Mae’s news! I can’t wait for “A Cold Tomorrow” to come out. Loved “A Thousand Yesteryears”!

From the Pen of Mae Clair

December is approaching, and with it, the release of book 2 in my Point Pleasant saga,  A Cold Tomorrow. In anticipation of the December 20th release, Kensington Publishing is running a Goodreads giveaway. This is your chance to win a hard copy of the book while helping a hard-working author out in the process.

Er…that would be me, folks. 🙂

GR giveaways do wonders for getting books noticed with increased exposure, so I hope you’ll take a moment to hop over and enter. It will be a huge help to me, so please accept my gratitude in advance.

I’m currently busily working on book 3 of the series, but I have a special fondness for book 2. I’ve heard many writers find the middle book the most difficult to write. I didn’t encounter that problem, but it could be due to my fondness for the subject matter—UFOs, Men in Black, and, of course, the Mothman. What…

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Surreal

Merriam-Webster: Surreal: very strange or unusual : having the quality of a dream

Dictonary.com: having the disorienting, hallucinatory quality of a dream; unreal; fantastic:

I can’t help staring out the window of my writing office at the autumn colors now in full force. Blazing pinks, bold reds, glowing oranges, and brilliant golds create a mosaic of natural beauty, a symphony for the eyes.

Surreal. Dream-like.

“Julie.”

Aaaand, there it goes. I turn to find my Muse restocking the small fridge with New Glarus Brewery’s Spotted Cow. “No Moon Man?”

He looks at me like he’s bored. “Variety is good, love.” He finishes, closes the fridge, and makes his way around the recliners. “You’re doing great. Why aren’t you writing?” He points at the calendar on the wall. “Two weeks. You need to have your draft out to your betas before the end of the month.”

“I know.”

“Sooo, why are you staring out the window instead of writing? You only have a couple scenes left.”

“Is this even real?” It doesn’t feel real. It just doesn’t. “Am I going to wake up and this will all be some sort of practical joke dream?”

My Muse wraps an arm around my shoulders and we stare out the window together. My Night Fury conscience chases a leaf across our view. “You didn’t expect this.”

“No, I didn’t. Not even close.” It didn’t even seem entirely real until last night.

“Patience, love. These things take time, just like revisions. Which, by the way, you’re supposed to be working on.”

“I know, I know. I need to work through the hangar scene. It still doesn’t feel right.”

“It will. You’ll get it.” He heads to the wall-sized white board and starts a list complete with dates. “Does this help?”

One line stands out to me. One I can’t do anything about. “I wish I could compress that one into weeks instead of months.”

“It’s out of your control, love. You know that. Besides, there’s no obligation.”

“Yet.” Hoping. Crossing my fingers. “Is this going to bite me in the butt?” That’s my biggest worry, I suppose. I’ve got an opportunity, but the timing is not ideal. I’m not talking my schedule, but schedules outside my control.

“You’ve done what you are supposed to do. Now you wait. Get used to it. Get your revisions done.” He hands me a dark chocolate and sea salt caramel Ghirardelli square. “Here. Enjoy this, then back to work. You can have a beer later, after you revise the scenes.”

Persistence and patience. One is akin to stubbornness, which I have in spades (why spades? Why not diamonds or hearts or clubs?), the other … not so much. My dad used to chastise me whenever we went fishing because I could never leave my line out for more than five minutes. Usually less. I think I lost more worms by reeling and casting than fish ever stole.

For those of you prepping for NaNo this year, you should be halfway through your outline. Unless you’re a pantser. Then you’re probably lining up all the snacks and coffee or tea you’ll need to fuel your writing marathon. Get psyched up, y’all! It’s gonna be a good NaNo year.

Also, lots of blog tours and raffles and giveaways going on. Check out the Story Empire blog. There’s a scavenger hunt going on with their writers. Stop by their Paranormal Bar & Grille and have some fun!

And here’s another cat pic (because I know someone who LOVES cat pics 😀 )

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Have a great weekend! Write well, write on!


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Seasons Change

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It’s that time of year again, when the trees, once every shade of green, now look like some giant artist swiped a brush across their leaves. I’ve been taking alternate routes home from work so I can see the colors of the trees. Wish I could stop at every glorious burst of color to take pictures, but that’s not safe with no shoulders on the roads.

One route takes me along the forested river bluffs, where golds and dark reds peek through the green still hanging on. Every so often I see a treat of intense pinks and oranges.

One route allows a distant view of the trees along the river from the “flatland” side. From that distance, the foliage is more gray/green speckled with golds than a vista of individual trees.

Another route takes me through farm fields, but every farm site has trees around the main house. Those trees tend to be showy, mature maples with pinks, oranges, and golds gilding a green background. I love the colors of autumn! I wish I could “freeze-frame” them for a week or two so I could enjoy them for more than a couple days.

It’s chilly out as well, a good excuse to make chili for lunch and bake some banana bread. I actually wanted to make pumpkin bread, but we’ve been freezing very-ripe bananas, so I need to use up some of our “stash”.

Chilly outside means the cat who snubs us all summer now wants nice warm laps to sleep on. Makes it hard to write!

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Of course she waits until I’ve got my computer on my lap before she decides it’s time to claim her place. (And it’s kinda tough to get a good picture of a cat who’s sitting on your lap without chasing them away.)

The garden is now a weed playground. Went out yesterday to rescue any tomatoes and peppers left before the predicted frost this morning. No covering tender plants. I’m done with the garden for this year. Whew. The only things left that might survive are my one lonely kale plant and the beets I haven’t picked yet.

It’s also time for fall cleaning. *crickets*

Yeah. About that…

After I finish my revisions. Really. I promise.

Unless my son wants to bring his new girlfriend over. Then everything gets put on hold until the house is presentable.

I hope he gives us more than a few days’ notice.

Anyway, hope you all are enjoying autumn to the fullest extent, because winter (ugh!) is right around the corner. *peeks around the corner* The coast is clear so far, so hurry.

And one more pic to enjoy for the weekend. Writers, write!

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A Dull Moment?

I really should let my Muse write this week’s post. I can’t think of anything.

Not true. I can think of stuff, just not for a blog post.

Stuff like how I need to change the next scene in my WIP to account for the revised character thread. Or whether I should write a post about starting an outline for NaNoWriMo, even though I’m not doing NaNo this year, but other people might be. Or how my garden is now a den of runaway weeds and sad, sad-looking tomato and pepper plants. Or how my raspberries are bountiful now, while the weather is decent.

Sigh. Decisions, decisions.

It’s October. Oh, boy, where did the time go? Wasn’t it just July? The trees are starting to change here, but I’ve entertained thoughts about driving up north toward Duluth to see the peak colors happening there now. Can’t, though. I’ve got a manuscript to revise so I can get it out to beta readers.

The revisions are going well, but I did spend about a week working through them in my head and on paper before I started. I know there are a mix of planners and pantsers out there, and their own process works well for them. I didn’t used to plan. Back in elementary school and high school, I had the story in my head. No sense writing it down in an outline.

Then came my first NaNo. I chose to write something completely new, not something I’d been playing around with in my head. I knew I needed to plan if I was going to have a prayer of writing 50k words in a month.

I missed the goal that first year, but I came up with a story that surprised me. It wasn’t anything I’d been pondering, but something that grew organically from the process of brainstorming and outlining. It’s not finished, but I’d like to go back to it and write the ending some day.

I learned a lot of things through NaNoWriMo. Outlining gives me a direction when I write, even if I don’t always follow it. I learned to write every day. I learned to kick my inner editor into a cage and lock the door while I write the first draft. I pacify her with platitudes about fixing stuff later, because there will always be at least three or four revisions.

Maybe the most important thing of all, though: I learned confidence. I can write a book in less than two years. I can write fifty thousand words in thirty days. I can outline a book and write from beginning to end without petering out three-quarters of the way through.

I took an online technical writing course through the university a few years ago. The class had a warning in its catalog listing: writing intensive. We’d be writing 12,000 to 20,000 words over the semester, more writing involved in that particular class than any other for that subject. Oh. My. Gawd.

Heh. Child’s play. I could write 50,000 words in one month.

Aced the class.

A writer posted a question in a FB writing group about who had done NaNo and why he should do it. I gave my advice, but as I wrote, I realized my biggest takeaway should be emphasized more than simply writing 50k words in 30 days.

Confidence. It does a writer good.

I’ve got a two-month deadline for my revise and resubmit, including the feedback from beta readers, so my actual revision deadline is about 4-6 weeks. I have no doubts I can do it if I keep my focus.

Thank you, NaNoWriMo, for making me realize I can.