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A Little JANO Competition

I have been participating in a competition through my Sleuths’ Ink Mystery Writers group during the month of January. The competition is called JANO. If you are familiar with NaNoWriMo, then JANO is the local January version of that. If you aren’t familiar with NaNoWriMo, then I have probably just confused you.

In a nutshell, the object of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words during the month of November, which should result in the completed rough draft of a novel or close to it. JANO is the same principle. The goal is to write 50,000 words during the month of January, which should put the writer close to a completed rough draft of a novel. The difference is that JANO is during January and is a local competition sponsored by my mystery group, whereas NaNoWriMo is a nationwide challenge.

I much prefer JANO for several reasons. First, January doesn’t have holidays that require tons of shopping, planning, cooking, and stressing. Second, January has thirty-one days, which is one more day than November. Third, since there is a small group of people participating, we can email each other encouragement. Fourth, I love the JANO party! We get together every February to have lunch and celebrate our accomplishments achieved during January. Okay, last year was virtual due to the pandemic, but it was still a lot of fun.

During our party, we visit with each other, catching up since many of us haven’t seen each other since before the holidays. We also have chances to win great prizes. There is a prize for the first person to reach 50,000 words. Boy, I would love to win that one year. I didn’t even come close to being the first this year.

Truthfully, as of the time of this writing, I have not yet reached my 50,000 words. If you are thinking that I should be working on my JANO project instead of writing this blog post, don’t worry. Every word written during the month of January counts toward the total. That means each Ozarks Maven post done in January counts. Yay!

Last year, I surpassed my 50,000 word count goal, but I don’t remember by how many words. I do remember that I won some wonderful prizes at our virtual party, including a pound of delicious local coffee. That stuff was amazing. When I say local, I mean it was made by Ozark Mountain Coffee Company in Ozark, Missouri, which is local to my Springfield, Missouri group. I live an hour and a half away, but I still claim that as local.

I have actually worked on three different cozy mysteries for JANO. I started out on my first cozy mystery with great enthusiasm. I worked on it for a couple of weeks, but it began to feel wrong. My main character was requiring far too much research, and I couldn’t make her feel like a well developed character. She did not feel real. The story was turning out to be more about her mom than the murder my main character was trying to solve. It was not a waste of time, though. All six chapters I wrote of the story are safely residing on my USB drive for attention at a later date.

My second project didn’t last very long at all. I think the problem with it was I was trying write from the perspective of a contemporary young college student. I was doing a lot of research for that character, as well. I haven’t been a young college student in around thirty years, and times have definitely changed. So, I moved on to my third project.

The third time is truly the charm in this case. I am quite excited about this cozy mystery. My main character is a forty-something divorced independent home-based cosmetics sales representative. I’m loosely basing the cosmetics company on a well-known brand that’s been around since the late 1800s. I am certain I don’t need to tell you the brand in order for you to guess.

Because I would like to avoid wading into a legal quagmire including copyright infringement, I am not using the name of the company or its products. I’m merely borrowing the model idea, which has been done with other home-based sales businesses many times. Everything from other cosmetics companies to cookware to nutritional supplements have used the same successful business model.

The fun part of writing a cozy mystery is that the murder and violence happen off the page. The reader doesn’t see any of the details. That allows me more freedom to develop the murder plot because I’m concentrating less on how to write the descriptions of everything involved in that horrible act. The reader is tagging along with my amature and quite reluctant sleuth as she tries to solve the murder mystery and clear her own name.

Writing is so much easier when I enjoy what I am writing. A good friend of mine recently told me that she planned to write until it wasn’t fun anymore. Then she would knit or something. She has it right. Writing needs to be fun. I have too many other things I could and probably should be doing with my time if I’m not enjoying the writing process.

This post will go live three minutes after the competition ends. The jury is still out on whether or not I will reach 50,000 words by midnight on January 31st, so I can’t give you my ending total yet. I will schedule the post in advance, so if you are interested, feel free to post a comment asking how I did.

I am approximately 13,000 words away from the goal right now. I have the rest of today (Sunday) and Monday. Unfortunately, I have a full-time job, and Monday is a work day for me. I don’t think I’ll get a whole lot done Monday evening, so basically everything is riding on how many words I can write on Sunday. Thankfully, it’s still early in the day.

If I do not reach my goal, that’s okay. I will be disappointed, but thanks to the competition, I wrote a heck of a lot more during the month of January than I would have written without it. Most importantly, I have already had a lot of fun, and the party hasn’t even started yet.

What will I do after the JANO competition is over? Well, I plan to catch up on some housework and then settle under a fluffy blanket to read a good book. By looking at the weather forecast predicting ice and snow, I would say that is a good plan for everyone.

Stay warm and safe, my friends!

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