For Writers

NaNoWriMo Prep – #AuthorToolbox

Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2

It’s almost NaNoWriMo time. For those who haven’t heard of it, NaNoWriMo stands for National Writing Month and it happens every November. Participants attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in one month’s time. It averages out to about 1,667 words per day. It’s a great motivator for writers! You can sign up to participate and find out more info here.

I’ll be participating in NaNoWriMo again this year (my fourth time), but this time I’ll be a rebel (someone who doesn’t start with a blank page to complete the 50,000 words). Here are a few things I’ve found that will help you reach the  win (50,000 words).

1. Commit to writing the words, then tell your friends and family. If you’re wishy-washy about it – like “I might have to try it” or “Maybe I’ll have time to do this” you won’t finish. The first time I attempted NaNo, this is how I was and I didn’t even get halfway there. The next year I made a solid commitment and I reached my goal. Part of committing is making sure family and friends know it, so they realize that sometimes you might not be able to go out when you still have words to type.

2. Decide on a specific time to write your words. This is different for different people -some like early mornings, others like late nights. For me, I write during the mid-morning. My “day job” is more of an afternoon/evening job, so mid-morning between 10 and noon works best for me. You just need to find the time that works best for you.

3. Celebrate the little wins. The NaNo site has badges you win for each word count goal( 5000, 10,000, 20,000 and so on) which I love. Every time I earn a new one, it gives me another burst of energy to write more! One of my writer friends on Instagram had a great idea. She made a list of little rewards for herself once she reaches each one of her word count goals. It’s such a cool idea, I’m going to try it this year. 🙂

4. Keep a name list of your characters. This is the best way to keep track of all those minor characters. I sometimes got into a tangle when I couldn’t remember a specific characters name – “I think it was Jack, or was it Jake?” Now I keep a list as I add characters so I don’t have to go back  through my manuscript to check the name.

5. Don’t try to edit as you’re writing. If you keep going back and rereading what you’ve already written, you’re defeating the purpose of NaNo. You just want to get the story out, and that’s what the first draft is for. Yes, it will be a mess, but worry about fixing it later on, after NaNo is over. I didn’t have a problem with this too much, unless I tried to go back and read what I’d written the day before. Only read enough to remember where you are in the plot of your story.

6. Try to get ahead of your word count in the first week. This is helpful for two reasons. One, you have more energy in the beginning, and second, it gives you a padding for those days you just can’t quite make the word count. This was so helpful for me. The first time I won Nano, I’m convinced this is why. I had gotten well ahead of my word count in the first week, and it compensated for times when I wasn’t able to make the day’s word count.

7. Write some every day, even if it is just a little. Even if you can’t get in all your words, steal whatever time you can to write a little. A hundred words is better than zero. Some days I just didn’t have the time to get the full word count, but even if I got a few in, I felt that I had still accomplished something. It helped to keep me from losing momentum. And if you do skip a day, don’t skip more than one in a row. This is a sure way of losing momentum, as I discovered the first year I tried Nano.

These are some things that have really helped me with NaNo. To some extent, I think you have to find what works for you. If you are doing NaNoWriMo, a great resource to check out is the book No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty. You can find it on Goodreads here.  It’s basically a guide for completing NaNo. Chris Baty is the creator of NaNoWriMo, and there is a little introduction in the beginning of the book about how NaNo started, which I thought was really interesting.

Are you participating in NaNo this November? If you are, add me as a buddy. My username is charebear23. 🙂 What helps you reach the win? Let me know in the comments!

This post is part of the author toolbox blog hop hosted by Raimey Gallant. Find out more about it here.

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For Writers

#AuthorToolboxBloghop: The Foundation For Writing is Reading

 

Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2

Everyone knows writers write, but not everyone realizes how much reading a writer must do. Reading is one of the most important things a writer does. A writer who doesn’t read is like a doctor who performs surgery without ever having been trained to do so.

If you want to be a writer, you MUST do two things above all others-READ a lot and WRITE a lot.-Stephen King

Reading is what educates you to become a writer. Reading helps you hone your craft, allows you to see what does and what doesn’t work in a book, and empowers your vocabulary.

Honing Your Craft – When it comes to honing your craft, you’ll want to read some craft books. There are so many to choose from, sometimes it can seem overwhelming to know which one you should use. You can narrow down which books you might need by knowing how you write best. Plotters will want a good book on outlining, and every writer will need books that give tips on editing and revising. You might also find a book about writing for your genre helpful. Here a few of my favorite craft books with links to them on Goodreads:

  1. Story Genius by Lisa Cron  : This book is great for both pantsers and planners. It helps you dig deep and determine what your characters really want. I highly recommend this for any writer.
  2. The Writer’s Digest Writing Clinic by Kelly Nickell: I love this book, because it helps with productivity. It breaks everything down into pieces, and gives tips for making each piece stronger, then gives you exercises for practicing those tips.
  3. Revision and Self Editing by James Scott Bell: This book has some wonderful tips to help you revise your first or second draft.
  4. Writing Great Books For Young Adults by Regina Brooks: This is ideal for those writing Young Adult. It gives a lot of genre specific tips as well plenty of general ones.
  5. Create Your Writer Platform by Chuck Sambuchino: Another thing writers have to think about is social media and everything that comes with it.  This book explains how to create an author platform, and how to best use social media.

 

Knowing What Works – When it comes to knowing what works and what doesn’t, you need to read books in your genre. Look for titles on the bestseller’s list, especially those that are there for several weeks. These are the books that are working for their genre. Look at reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. What do the readers in your genre like? What do they not like?  Some things work in certain genres that don’t work as well in others. In YA, writers often use first person. They use fragments to convey what the main character is thinking. They are typically fast paced and don’t include pages of description.  These things might not work as well for other genres like romance or literary fiction.

Empowering Your Vocabulary – Everything you read will help you with this, but you have to read a lot! The more you read the more words you encounter thus strengthening your vocab. Playing word games is another great way to get in some vocabulary practice. I love Scrabble and even have an app for it on my phone, but there are plenty of other word games you can play. There are so many word game apps, just try putting in word games and see what comes up. Anytime you have to wait, you can kill time by playing a word game.

If you struggle with fitting in reading time, try making a list. I make a TBR(to-be-read) list for each month. I include mostly genre-specific books, but every so often I add another genre in and I always try to include one craft book on the list. Sometimes I don’t read everything on my list, and sometimes I switch out one book for another, but the important thing is that I have a goal to work toward.

What are some of your favorite craft books? What do you do to make time for reading? Do you have a favorite word game? Let me know in the comments!

I’ve been wanting to start a section on my blog for writing tips, and then I found this: the author toolbox blog hop. It’s a great way to connect with other writers and share tips. It is hosted by Raimey Gallant and more information can be found here.

Beauty and the Beast Series

Hunted

Hunted by Meagan Spooner is the fifth and final book in the Beauty and the Beast reading challenge. This book was excellent! Set in medieval Russia, it wove the story of the Firebird into the Beauty and the Beast tale.

Synopsis: Yeva is a skilled huntress. She’d rather live in her father’s hunting lodge than the fancy house in town. So when her family loses their fortune, and they have to move back to the lodge, she is not disappointed. Then her father disappears. Before disappearing, he claimed a beast was following him,  and Yeva is afraid the beast has caught her father. Determined to find him, she sets out on her own, traveling deep into the forest.  There she finds magical things, things from the stories her father had told her when she was little. But she can’t let these things distract her from goal – killing the beast.

I had a lot of emotions when reading this book  (a sign of good writing!). I kept reading, wanting to know what was coming next.  At first, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like the end, but I did. It ended in a satisfying way, tying up all the little pieces of magic that floated throughout the book.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fairytales, retellings, and fantasy – and to anyone who is looking to step out of their normal genre of reading. This just might be the book that hooks you on fantasy. 🙂

Questions: What did you think of the way the author portrayed want in the story? Did you like the way the author weaved in the Firebird tale? What was your favorite part? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Beauty and the Beast Series

Beauty and the Beast by K.M. Shea

The fourth book in the challenge is Beauty and the Beast by K.M. Shea. This is an indie book. Since my own book will be an indie book, I’ve been looking for some good ones to recommend. I’m really glad I discovered this one!

This book is a very unique take on the Beauty and the Beast tale. The beauty, whose name is Elle, is a spy. She falls through the roof of the Beast’s castle while on a mission. Her leg is injured in the fall, so she has to stay at the castle until she recovers enough to walk. There are several servants who take care of her. They wear masks as a part of the curse, and of course, they meddle trying to get Elle to fall in love with the Beast.

A lot of new things were woven into this tale, but there was also a lot of things from the classic story. It was entertaining and even amusing at times. I recommend it to all Beauty and the Beast fans, and to anyone who loves fantasy.

Also,  K.M. Shea has several other fairytale retellings, many of which I have on my TBR list. You can find out more about her books here.

Questions: Have you read this book yet? What did you think of it? Have you read any other books by K.M. Shea? Let me know you thoughts in the comments!

Note: Sorry it’s been awhile since I last posted. I haven’t been online much because of vacation and other crazy life things! My Hunted review will be posted later this week, so be on the lookout for that!

Beauty and the Beast Series

Beauty

Our third book in the challenge is Beauty by Robin Mckinley. This is a classic Beauty and the Beast retelling. McKinley built off the original fairytale – Beauty has sisters, and uses a ring to return home. She adds so many lush details, the reader feels as if she is right there with Beauty in the Beast’s castle.

This book holds a special place in my heart, because it was the book that first introduced me to the fairytale retelling genre. Robin Mckinley has written many retellings (including another Beauty and the Beast retelling, Rose Daughter) as well as several other fantasy novels. She is a legend in YA fantasy, so this book is well worth the read!

It’s hard for me to choose a favorite part of this book, because I love it all. I think the thing I most like about it, is the way it makes the Beauty and the Beast story come alive. Every time I read it, I finish it in just a couple of days.

Note: Just to let everyone know, I adjusted the dates on the challenge, moving everything forward a couple of weeks. This way the challenge will end at the end of the month, giving everyone extra time to finish reading all the books. Also, feel free to go back to any of the previous book posts to leave your comments about the books whenever you finish reading them. And if you missed the first challenge post, you find all the details here.

Discussion questions:

  1. Have you read the original Beauty and the Beast story? If so, how did you think it compared with Beauty?
  2. What was your favorite part of the book?
  3. What do you think the significance of the rose is?