Learning From My November Fail and Last Train to Babylon by Charlee Fam


Pretty sure you can guess what happened to me in November. I failed at NaNoWriMo. But it wasn’t all a total loss. I learned some valuable lessons. And, considering I didn’t really think I would finish, I can call it a semi-victory. And I learned a lot.

First off, I didn’t prepare at all. I decided to do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) about a week before the start (November 1st), and really was going to be shocked if I finished. 50,000 words is a lot of creativity, especially if your idea isn’t fully fleshed out.

I’ve had this wonderful idea for a novel for years, and have ruminated on how to tell that story. I thought that was the idea that I was going with (and that one, although it is a niggle in my head, has not even come close to being fleshed out), but fate intervened at the last moment. I remembered something weird that happened to me at about 20, and connected it with something even weirder that happened to me in junior high and high school, and that was my idea! It was a story that had-and has- to be told. It’s not going away.

That was about two days before November 1st. There was no way I was going to get a character sketch, an outline, a synopsis, or any other story-building tool done before the beginning. So, I went on as a total pantser (doing it all by the seat of my pants). I haven’t really written fiction in a while, but my method came back to me. Not a pantser, not a plotter. A little of both. (Write like my pants are on fire, go back and plot a bit, get to know my character, and then write some more. Outline chapters as I go.) And I  LOVE ❤  index cards!!!! 

All in all, I got about 30,000 words as a panster. They weren’t all good words, but some were good, and many of them helped me get my fiction writing skills back in order. They helped me figure out my story, and to plot where it was I wanted it to go. So, although I failed at NaNoWriMo, I will count November, 2014, as a personal victory.

And, more than anything, it helped me carve out time in my busy life to write on a regular basis.

So, even though I failed, I feel like I won a little bit. I’m figuring out my writing process. My family is learning what writing means to me. I’ve got a great story in my head that has to be told.

I found time to read, and I have a lot of books in my arsenal to review for you. Here’s the first one in December, Last Train to Babylon by Charlee Fam.

Last Train to Babylon is an authentic, harsh, and biting look at a damaged young lady forced to come face to face with the ghosts of her past. Charlee Fam’s debut is fantastic, a page-turner to the very end.

When we meet Aubrey Glass, she’s not too far out of college, working very hard to feel nothing in life; she doesn’t care about work, doesn’t care about her boyfriend (with whom she lives), and she doesn’t care too much about herself. When she gets a call informing her that her childhood best friend has killed herself, she decides leave Manhattan and head home to Long Island for a visit. She refuses to feel anything other than anger because Rachel (the friend) beat her to suicide.

At home, Aubrey’s force field against emotions is pierced, forcing her to deaden her pain with alcohol and Xanax in increasingly staggering amounts. Throughout her return home, the reader is treated to long flashbacks to her childhood. As present-tense Aubrey heads for a breakdown, past Aubrey’s ghosts show us why.

I think I am older than the target audience, but this book really got to me. Aubrey is a broken creature many of us remember being (if not quite so broken), the girl we hope to protect our daughters from becoming.

Bravo, Charlee Fam. This book is a five-star winner! This is an incredible debut, and I can’t wait for more.


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