Video: Update On My First Novel Progress

After 3 non-fiction books, I am writing my first novel, working title ‘Pentecost’. It is a religious thriller – somewhere between James Rollins, Matthew Reilly and Dan Brown in style and pace. My degree in Theology is finally being put to use!

In this video, I share some of my lessons learnt at the 40,000 word mark (text notes below the video)

Notes from the video as I know many people prefer text posts!

  • Scarily, I started this novel in NaNoWriMo last November which is almost 6 months away. I am at 40,011 words now. Click here to see the videos I posted during NaNoWriMo
  • I have been using other books and breaking them down to see how the book works. Pacing, chapter length etc – reverse engineering to understand how the writer achieved the effect they did. This has helped me understand what I should be doing.
  • Writing is slow, but I am doing courses, blogging about things and trying to share the journey, as well as working/speaking etc. Real life slows us all down, but I am pleased with progress
  • Researching by mindmapping, and then writing that into text has worked very well for me. I have done a lot of research on places I have never been as well using Google Maps and Flickr primarily.
  • Listening to ‘Rain’ as I write has put me in the mode to create – I’m English after all so need to avoid the sun!
  • Surprisingly, the muse does come! Inspiration happens and characters do act out and I can write that down – brilliant! I am loving the process!
  • P.S. I still don’t know why I do that buggy-eye thing at various points in the video, but hey, I am trying to put myself out there!


You can now get free chapters of Pentecost on the Facebook page by clicking here.


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    • says

      Thanks Shawna, the degree hasn’t been useful for much except late night conversations so far! I’m glad to be indulging my love of arcane knowledge now!

  1. says

    Listening to rain that’s such a creative solution. The book I’m trying to start takes place in fall during a storm. I wish I had the foresight to record a storm that would have helped to inspire me I’m sure. Unfortunately for my writing but fortunately for me we are having a beautiful spring here on tiny Mayne Island on Canada’s west coast.
    I wish you further success with your writing

    • says

      Hi Leanne, iTunes is full of fantastic storms :) I just got the ‘Rain’ tunes, there are so many! I love storms myself so they feature heavily in the book. Glad to hear they inspire you too. Thanks, Joanna

  2. says

    I love how your intuition led you to break down other novels so you could see what works. That’s something I teach my novel writing students. I actually recommend dissecting a good novel in your genre AND a bad novel. By comparing the two, you can get a handle on what elements work together to create a great book.

  3. says

    Thanks for this! Do love hearing/reading about your journey with your novel.

    So happy to hear that the muse does come, though I think mine is out for the night barhopping with friends, and will stumble home too late to help me tonight! :)

    Will check iTunes for the sounds of storms.

  4. says


    I have been going through your First Novel posts. They have been really helpful to me so far as I am getting ready to start another round of NaNo in just a couple weeks here. I’ve done the summer version (CampNaNo) and finished the novel but never went any further with it. I’ve now got another idea (as well as finally going back and rewriting and editing the other one) and will be starting to write in November. But the whole planning before writing thing is definitely helping me to realize a few things about my character and my plot. Giving it more depth. They have all been really helpful posts so far. Thanks for documenting your way through it. Very helpful :)

    Visiting from my Writing Home :)

    • says

      Thanks Megan – I’m glad I documented the journey as well since things have changed a lot since then :) I’m going to try and do something similar for NaNo this year, my first time since 2009!
      All the best for your November :)
      Thanks, Joanna

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