The Godsend that is NaNoWriMo

It’s that time of year again. No, I don’t ,mean the Christmas trees going up in WalMarts and Targets around the country (seriously, can we not get through Thanksgiving first?). I’m talking about National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo, as the kids call it).

That… is what the kids call it. Right?

Anyway, for the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is a challenge in which you have 30 days to write 50,000 words. It sounds maddening, and it can be (but less so if you consider that averages out to 1,667 words a day). Truthfully, the maddening part comes at the end of the month, when Thanksgiving approaches and family obligations take precedence.

But there is one benefit to NaNoWriMo, particularly for someone like me.

I’ve made no secret, both on this page and on my social media platforms, about my writing struggles of late. My lack of productivity has taken a toll in recent months, not only on my (lack of) word count, but also in terms of my emotional well-being. Writer is a large part of my identity, and if I’m not writing…

But one thing about NaNoWriMo, and why it’s such an important program, is that it establishes the habit of daily writing. It’s difficult to meet the 50,000-word goal in perfect circumstances, but if you’re not writing every day, then the task is even more daunting. Not that there’s shame in not reaching 50,000 words; there isn’t, and any progress made during NaNoWriMo is to be celebrated.

And in the interest of transparency, I’ve reached the 50,000-word mark every year since 2014, but none of my projects have been finished by the time November ended. That’s where the habit of daily writing comes in. Ideally, that habit carries beyond November into the rest of the year.

Which, again, is the whole point.

Three of my novels — Bounty, Behind the Badge, and Notna — started as NaNoWriMo projects. The fifth Jill Andersen novel, Betrayed, was my NaNoWriMo project last year, and this year, I’m using NaNoWriMo to take on a story and a genre I’ve never tried before.

That challenge, and NaNoWriMo as a whole, has been invigorating. Just yesterday alone, I knocked out almost 4,000 words on my NaNoWriMo project — a fantasy romance titled Unforgotten (working title). I also wrote 4,000 words in completing a short story for an upcoming anthology (from the same folks who brought you Cracks in the Tapestry).

Without NaNoWriMo, I’m not sure I’m a writer — and if I am, I seriously doubt I’d be published. Establishing that habit, treating writing as a journey rather than a destination, is what November is all about. It’s the perfect tonic for a lack of productivity, and I can’t wait to see what other words the month will bring.

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this month, best of luck to you! What are you writing? I’m J.D. Cunegan on NaNo’s website, so become a writing buddy if you’re so inclined.

And remember, even if you don’t reach 50,000 this month, anything you do create is worthwhile.

 

About J.D. Cunegan
J.D. Cunegan is known for his unique writing style, a mixture of murder mystery and superhero epic that introduces the reader to his comic book-inspired storytelling and fast-paced prose. A 2006 graduate of Old Dominion University, Cunegan has an extensive background in journalism, a lengthy career in media relations, and a lifelong love for writing. Cunegan lives in Hampton, Virginia, and next to books and art, his big passion in life in auto racing. When not hunched in front of a keyboard, scratching a pencil over a piece of paper, or with his nose stuck in a book, Cunegan can probably be found at a race track or watching a race on TV.

Follow J.D. on FacebookTwitterGoodreads. and DeviantArt.

A Hard Truth and a Paradox

Typically, the more you do something, the better you get at it.

Seems simple enough, right? Isn’t that what we teach the youngsters among us? Practice makes perfect? No one is good at something right out of the gate? You have to work at whatever craft you want in order to become good at it?

Well, it appears this does not apply to writing books.

I mean, one would think that after writing and publishing five novels (and a collection of short stories), I’d be pretty darn good at this. One would think the more I do it, the easier it becomes.

Uh… about that…

Writing is a fickle beast, and there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to when it shows up. Actually, that’s not quite true… there are a few things that have come together to conspire against the act of putting words on the page (insert Russia joke here).

First of all, there’s that pesky thing called a day job. It’s great in a sense, because it pays me well enough that I can afford to invest in my writing. I can better afford such things as promotional services, cover artists, editors, conventions and the like. But it also drains me, the day-to-day hustle leaving me exhausted when I get home — so much so that writing, as enticing as it is during the work day, proves elusive after hours.

And yes, I realize that to some extent, that issue is my own lack of discipline. I readily admit I’m not as strong in that regard as I should be. I know as much as anyone that the real work of writing occurs when you don’t feel like writing. And yet, there are nights when I can’t bring myself to open that manuscript.

Even if I do open it? That blinking cursor just stares at me. Mocking.

The cursor hates me. I don’t know why.

It’s not like I’m bereft of ideas. I resorted to outlining in an attempt to (finally) finish Betrayed. I’m even fairly certain where to go with the next two Jill Andersen books, Bitter End and Big Apple. I’ve come up with several potential short story or novel ideas that are so outside of what I normally write that I’m excited to tackle them (I just… haven’t yet, though with one of them, that’s because it’s my NaNoWriMo project, and until the calendar reads November…).

I even had a short story I was writing for an upcoming anthology — from the same people who brought you Cracks in the Tapestry. But it derailed not even 4,000 words in, and I’ve yet to find a way to salvage it. That anthology might wind up happening without me.

Dec. 4 will mark two years since my last published novel. Two freaking years. For a guy who was once pumping out new releases every six months. What the hell? What happened? I thought this was supposed to get easier the more I did it, not soul-crushingly difficult.

I know part of the reason my sales are so bad is because I haven’t released anything lately. It’s generally accepted that consistent new content is the best way to get people to buy your stuff, and I have failed massively in that regard.

Maybe NaNoWriMo is the kick in the ass I need to get back in the game. But as it stands right now, I’m far better at daydreaming about writing than actually, you know, writing.

Please tell me I’m not the only one.

 

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About J.D. Cunegan
J.D. Cunegan is known for his unique writing style, a mixture of murder mystery and superhero epic that introduces the reader to his comic book-inspired storytelling and fast-paced prose. A 2006 graduate of Old Dominion University, Cunegan has an extensive background in journalism, a lengthy career in media relations, and a lifelong love for writing. Cunegan lives in Hampton, Virginia, and next to books and art, his big passion in life in auto racing. When not hunched in front of a keyboard, scratching a pencil over a piece of paper, or with his nose stuck in a book, Cunegan can probably be found at a race track or watching a race on TV.

Follow J.D. on FacebookTwitterGoodreads, and DeviantArt.

Reintroducing Myself…

160425-news-castleFor the unfamiliar, this is Detective Kate Beckett from the TV show Castle. I discovered the show — and her — about five or six years ago, and she’s the big reason why Bounty finally got written and published back in June 2015.

Readers have noted that Jill and Kate are very similar — and that’s not an accident. Kate Beckett inspired a lot of what Jill became (and there were a lot of similarities that were already there). The murder mystery element rounded out the narrative, but it was Beckett who, in a roundabout way, gave Jill the missing element she needed. It’s been a while since I’ve seen an episode of Castle (the show did not end on good terms), and I find myself struggling with the fifth book in my series.

So why not remind myself of what made these books — and Jill — work in the first place? Why not reacquaint myself with the perfect blend of badass and compassionate that made Kate Beckett the great character she was?

Beckett’s strength never came at the expense of her femininity or her personality — if anything, all of those facets enhanced and strengthened each other, and that was what I hoped to infuse in Jill through my writing.

And while Castle was very much about the growth of Beckett’s relationship with Castle, she was always very much her own person, her own character. When the show was at its best, she never lost who she was in service of the plot (we’ll ignore season 8…).

So I need to reintroduce myself to Detective Katherine Houghton Beckett, NYPD Homicide. I need to remind myself of the things that made the Jill Andersen books such a joy to write in the first place — and maybe I can finally finish Betrayed.

But it’s good to know where inspiration has struck. Jill Andersen did not start with Kate Beckett, but the latter wound up doing a good bit to shape who the former is. And maybe reminding myself of that will help get me out of this creative funk I’m in.

Besides, Kate Beckett once pistol-whipped a United States Senator and walked out while he cradled his bleeding head and ran away. How badass is that?!

(I mean, yes, he was a very, very bad man. But still!)

ANNOUNCEMENT: Commissions Now Open!

With Fairfax Comicon in the rearview mirror, and the summer almost behind us (didn’t it just start?!), I wanna bring in the week leading up to my birth day with an exciting announcement, one I’ve been holding onto for a while:

I’m now accepting art commissions!

That’s right; you can now ask me to draw things for you, and I will draw things for you, and then you will pay for drawing things for you. They can be characters you love, they can be my characters, they can be your own characters (just be detailed in describing them so I know what I’m drawing).

Commissions are pretty popular these days (I know I’ve bought my share); plus, this gives me a chance to further improve my art, and it gives me another potential revenue stream. Cause times be rough out there, fam (please never let me say that again), and our side hustles now need side hustles.

But hey, at least I enjoy being an artist.

Most of the time.

Sometimes.

No, really.

Anyway, here’s the important part: the pricing!

Black & White (pencils and inks)
Bust: $30
Full figure (1 character): $40
Full figure (multiple characters): $50
Full composition (characters + background): $75

Color
Bust: $40
Full figure (1 character): $50
Full figure (multiple characters): $60
Full composition (characters + background): $100

Upon completion, finished images will be delivered digitally (.PNG, .JPG, .TIF, .PDF… whatever you request). If you want a physical print of the commission, simply add $10 to whatever image you select from above.

Yes, it is that simple.

Interested? Just shoot me an email (bounty_email@yahoo.com) and we can iron out the details from there.

And yes, I will do adult-themed commissions. Provided you’re of age.

Yes, I will ask.

Some samples of the work I do:

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About J.D. Cunegan
J.D. Cunegan is known for his unique writing style, a mixture of murder mystery and superhero epic that introduces the reader to his comic book-inspired storytelling and fast-paced prose. A 2006 graduate of Old Dominion University, Cunegan has an extensive background in journalism, a lengthy career in media relations, and a lifelong love for writing. Cunegan lives in Hampton, Virginia, and next to books and art, his big passion in life in auto racing. When not hunched in front of a keyboard, scratching a pencil over a piece of paper, or with his nose stuck in a book, Cunegan can probably be found at a race track or watching a race on TV.

Follow J.D. on FacebookTwitterGoodreads, and DeviantArt.

Update Time

-I’m in the final stages of Betrayed‘s first draft. At this rate, it should be finished in two weeks. As of now, the fifth book in the Jill Andersen series should be out by the end of the calendar year.

-The script for Bounty: Origins, my debut graphic novel, is coming along slowly. But progress is there.

-Related: to follow along with my artwork. follow me on Instagram and DeviantArt.

-Next weekend (Aug. 24-25), I will be at Fairfax Comicon! Come say hi, pick up some Fairfaxbooks, and you’ll likely get an autograph or two.

-If you can’t make the con, but you’re still interested in signed copies, I got you.

-Once Betrayed is released, I’ll be officially announcing a new series that I’ve been toying with. I’d announce it now, but it would sort of spoil stuff that happens in Betrayed.

-Remember, Notna is now just $2.99. No better time to pick up the books readers are saying is a cross between Indiana JonesBuffy the Vampire Slayer, and Supernatural.

-Don’t forget, the Jill Andersen book tour is still ongoing.

-Currently reading: Starbound by S.E. Anderson (comes out Tuesday!) and Wanderers by Chuck Wendig.

 

About J.D. Cunegan
J.D. Cunegan is known for his unique writing style, a mixture of murder mystery and superhero epic that introduces the reader to his comic book-inspired storytelling and fast-paced prose. A 2006 graduate of Old Dominion University, Cunegan has an extensive background in journalism, a lengthy career in media relations, and a lifelong love for writing. Cunegan lives in Hampton, Virginia, and next to books, his big passion in life in auto racing. When not hunched in front of a keyboard or with his nose stuck in a book, Cunegan can probably be found at a race track or watching a race on TV.

Follow J.D. on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

A Return Home — So to Speak

The older I get, the more I find myself returning to the joys of my youth.Bounty cover concept

With that, tonight I’m announcing something really exciting for my creative endeavors going forward. Fear not, lovely readers — I will continue writing novels, because the process of putting words on a page to create vibrant stories is too addicting to ignore. And the Bounty: Origins graphic novel is coming along nicely.

But starting now, I am not just J.D. Cunegan, author. I am now J.D. Cunegan, author and artist.

For the unfamiliar, this is like coming home.

Backstory for the uninitiated: in my adolescence, art was my passion. I was almost always drawing, and if i wasn’t drawing, I was thinking about drawing. I took art classes. I studied the comic book artists who were popular back then, seeing what made them tick. I created Bounty and Notna, specifically to turn them into comic books.

Well, college came and it sapped the joy of art from me. It left the writing intact, though, so while the written word never left me, I went a good decade (if not more) without picking up a pencil with any serious designs of creating artwork.

And every attempt I did make ended in frustration. Apparently, rust is very real in art.

Bounty with backgroundBut now, with five novels under my belt and a burning, constant desire to create, I keep coming back to art. I still get frustrated, but I also keep trying. I finish pieces. I’m seeing actual progress. In a year’s time, I’ll have a graphic novel to my name, but I find I want more.

I want to chase that dream 15-year-old me had.

So expect a lot more art, here on this site and on my social media platforms (be sure to follow me on Twitter @JD_Cunegan and Instagram @jdcuneganbooks to see what I’m working on). In addition, in the coming weeks, I’ll be announcing parameters for anyone who wants commissions.

In the meantime, visit my new DeviantArt page.

Also, mark your calendars for Saturday-Sunday, Aug. 24-25, as I will be at Fairfax Comicon in Virginia! I’ll have my books on-hand, and the plan right now is to also have art prints for sale. Stay tuned for more details!

Keep reading, keep creating, and never be afraid to chase your dreams.

 

About J.D. Cunegan
J.D. Cunegan is known for his unique writing style, a mixture of murder mystery and superhero epic that introduces the reader to his comic book-inspired storytelling and fast-paced prose. A 2006 graduate of Old Dominion University, Cunegan has an extensive background in journalism, a lengthy career in media relations, and a lifelong love for writing. Cunegan lives in Hampton, Virginia, and next to books, his big passion in life in auto racing. When not hunched in front of a keyboard or with his nose stuck in a book, Cunegan can probably be found at a race track or watching a race on TV.

Follow J.D. on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

ANNOUNCEMENT! Bounty: Origins

One of the world’s most renowned scientists washed up dead in the Chesapeake Bay.Bounty cover concept

Jill Andersen, one of the Baltimore Police Department’s brightest investigative minds, has been tasked with solving that murder. But what starts as a typical murder mystery quickly becomes so much more, as a mysterious vigilante emerges from the shadows and appears to have a connection to the murder victim.

Jill finds herself trying to do two jobs at once: find out who killed Dr. Trent Roberts and discover the true identity of the costumed hero known in some circles as Bounty. But she also must face her father’s pending fate and the emergence of an influential figure in the city of Baltimore who isn’t quite as he seems.

All of these disparate threads tie together to potentially reveal the answer to the biggest question of all:

Who is Bounty?

Bounty: Origins is the imaginative, non-canon retelling of Bounty’s origin – first told in the pages of J.D. Cunegan’s debut novel Bounty in 2015. This graphic novel returns both Cunegan and his titular character to their roots, as Cunegan finally showcases his lifelong love affair with superhero comics.

Bounty: Origins will be released on June 1, 2020 — the five-year anniversary of Bounty‘s original publication! I cannot wait to finally throw my hat into the superhero comic book ring, because without superhero comics, there is no Bounty (or Notna, for that matter).

(NOTE: Above art by J.D. Cunegan. Digital lines and colors. The above image does not constitute a cover reveal; the eventual cover may be something else entirely. But copyright J.D. Cunegan 2019 anyway.)

 

About J.D. Cunegan
J.D. Cunegan is known for his unique writing style, a mixture of murder mystery and superhero epic that introduces the reader to his comic book-inspired storytelling and fast-paced prose. A 2006 graduate of Old Dominion University, Cunegan has an extensive background in journalism, a lengthy career in media relations, and a lifelong love for writing. Cunegan lives in Hampton, Virginia, and next to books, his big passion in life in auto racing. When not hunched in front of a keyboard or with his nose stuck in a book, Cunegan can probably be found at a race track or watching a race on TV.

Follow J.D. on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.