Category: Bookish

NaNoWriMo: How I Prepared

We’re about half way through the month, which should mean half way through my novel, right? Haha… right. Anyway! Though this is my first year attempting NaNoWriMo I am in no way new to writing novels/stories. So in preparation (as per the suggestion from le internet), I did my planning at the end of October. I knew my story pretty well, it’d been developing for 6 years, but I wanted to make sure I knew everything about it before November came and I had to actually write it and make it sound good. Today, I thought I’d share with you some of the stuff I did to prepare.

First, I bought a journal. This lovely little journal you’ve seen on my other NaNoWriMo posts is, in fact, my NaNoWriMo planning book! I bought it specifically for this story and for NaNoWriMo. I don’t usually buy spiral bound notebooks, but it seemed the most functional for this month. This little notebook was an ever present accessory for me for the last two weeks of October.
I’m one of those super paranoid egotistical people who thinks
everyone wants to steal my story, hence the burring.
Sorry, except I’m not.
Next, I mapped out the major plot points I wanted in my novel from beginning to end. I also tentatively assigned each a chapter. I’ve certainly changed a lot of the chapter assignments and added a lot from this list of 13! 
Like the fancy swirls I did there to hide the building names?
In my hours of procrastination from my school work, I drew up a map of the main setting of my novel, the school campus! I was really excited about this. I started with little sketches in my journal and suddenly decided I needed a good one as a constant reference point, so I drew it up, as basic as it is, and then got carried away with the watercolours and fancy labeling of each building. I really enjoyed making the map and I’m really glad to have it now, even if I don’t describe the path a character takes to somewhere, I like to know what they’d pass in case anyone should ever ask.
Finally, I decided I needed a cast of characters. I wrote out each name of the main characters with a short bio, physical description, and relation to other characters. I’ve also been adding to this the minor characters I’ve used should I need to spell their name again or should they become strangely important.
I would say I’m one of those writers who likes to let the story take me, so sometimes I’m surprised by the importance of certain characters. Granted I’ve worked on and thought about this story for 6 years, every character has changed drastically since the first imagining and I have to say I’m fairly happy with this one finally.
If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, how did you prepare or did you? If you aren’t how did/do you like to plan and organize projects/papers/etc. in school or at work?

NaNoWriMo: How I Intend to Keep it Going

As you know from this post, I am taking part in the NaNoWriMo challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. If you didn’t realize, this is quite a challenge and to win/succeed is quite a feat. So I thought I’d share a few ideas I have on how I’m going to try to keep myself working hard enough to achieve my goal and win the challenge! 
  • Write no less than 1,700 words a day. My daily goal this month is 2,000 but my bare minimum is 1,700 words. If I write 1,700 words a day for 30 days, I will reach 50,000 words on the very last day.
  • Forget the formatting. I am obsessive about formatting. I love to make every chapter heading the same, every time jump match, and everything perfect. For this month, I’m not allowing myself to format a single page until I have completed the novel.
  • Work every day from 2:30-3:45. I just had to drop a class from my schedule for various reasons, so the time I would have spent in class is my designated times to work every day. Weekend will be a bit difficult for me to keep this, but there is rarely anything going on at 2:30 in the afternoon on a Saturday.
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule. If I can force myself to go to bed every week night by 10:30pm then I can get up in time to go to my classes and prepare for the day. Sometimes, when I stay up to late, I roll out of bed and into class then spend the rest of the day trying to prepare myself and making myself take on the day. This simply won’t work for November.
  • Take at least an hour each day away from writing to read. Every new book I read leaves me with new ideas about style and wording. reading enhances my writing and what could I need more to finish my novel?
  • Water. I’m challenging myself to stay hydrated as best I can this (and every) month. I’m horrible about drinking water and it certainly shows in my fatigue.
  • Enlist help. My life partner is absolutely wonderful at keeping me on track. He will ask every day if I’ve done my reading and if I’ve finished any goals I’ve set for myself. He really does keep me on track, which is good because I’ll be spending about a week of this month at his house and I’m happy to know he’ll be helpful rather than a distraction.
  • Carry my computer everywhere. I write, as I feel most people now do, on my laptop, or really on a tiny off-brand notebook that barely runs chrome, but it works. It’s small and so I intend to carry it everywhere with me this month. 5 minutes of quiet can be that much more towards my goal each day.
  • No revision. I’m the worst at reading over my work and revising it before I write anything new. This month that ain’t gonna fly. I’m, instead, going to write down in my NaNoWriMo notebook the changes I want to make with a page number and proceed writing as if I’ve made the changes.
I’m nervous but very excited to continue my work this month. I’ve had one productive day and am beginning another. Day 2 is on! I hope these ideas help you to keep up at whatever you’re doing and if you’re doing NaNoWriMo, good luck!
What are your best NaNoWriMo or anti-procrastination tips?

NaNoWriMo – It’s on!

For those who do not know, November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)! The Office of Letters and Light hosts a challenge every year during the month of November for aspiring and established writers of all ages and stages of writing to sit down and write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I, as an aspiring author, have never participated in this challenge, until now! This year is my first NaNoWriMo and I am so excited!

In preparation I have mapped my setting, I have outlined the major plot points of my novel, written a summary of the entire story, and joined my local NaNoWriMo group. I’ve chosen to write, rewrite, the book I attempted to write about 6 years ago. I don’t consider this cheating because I’m doing a total rewrite and re-imagining. I really cannot wait to start!

Just 5 days 12 hours left!

Anyone else doing NaNoWriMo? Have you done it before? What are some of your pre-writing tips?

Literary Life: A Moveable Feast

A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition

This is one of the several book I’m reading for my English 101 class. The theme is Americans in Paris, so the other classics we read were The American, The Age of Innocence, and The Sun Also Rises by Henry James, Edith Wharton, and Ernest Hemingway (respectively). To be honest, I didn’t finish The Age of Innocence, but the other two were extremely unimpressive and I disliked them, which is very sad for me to say about anything Henry James wrote because I adore his short stories. End English major rant.
Start adoration.
This book is so different from any other book I’ve read by Hemingway. In truth, it’s almost a collection of short stories and moments of his life. It’s a fictional non-fiction. In that I mean it’s the events as he remembers them (and adds in the case of dialogue) so we cannot be sure the truth of the episodes, but to Hemingway these stories were true.
I got the restored edition which has several added pieces. This was published posthumously and was compiled by Hemingway’s last wife. This edition was restructured by Hemingway’s grandson and some of the pieces that were added, specifically in the “Additional Sketches of Paris” section were fantastic! I love the characters, the way Hemingway perceived, described, and remembered his friends in the early Paris scenes.
The relationship between Hadley and “Tatie” is so romantic! I adore that and truly hope for a love like theirs in the early years, before “the rich” appears and ruins it. This edition also has “Fragments” which were different ways Hemingway was trying to open the book and in it he says that Hadley is the heroine and is the one who wins the most over all. I’m amazed to see an ex-husband so happy and obviously still loving his first wife. I adore it. You see real emotion in this book, particularly the added pieces, that you (at least I) don’t usually see in Hemingway’s works.
If you don’t like Hemingway, I’d definitely say give this one a try. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but I adore it so much and will most likely reread it many times throughout my life.
Have you read A Moveable Feast? What did you think? What is your general opinion of Hemingway?

French Lessons: An Adult Book Review

“Sometimes we have to run away from ourselves in order to find ourselves.” 
― Ellen SussmanFrench Lessons

“Why does naming a thing give it so much power?” 
― Ellen SussmanFrench Lessons

“We don’t need to talk. We need to love.” 
― Ellen SussmanFrench Lessons

French Lessons by Ellen Sussman
Published: July 2011
Buy: Amazon or B&N
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
When I first saw this book on Goodreads, I thought it might be a decent read for my sorority book club. Then it didn’t get chosen and I’d all but forgotten it. Then at the library, I saw it again, refreshed my memory and decided to bring it home. My hopes weren’t too high, as I seldom like books like these (adult contemporary). I was so pleasantly surprised. This was one of those rare books that I sat down with, walked away from, and returned happily. I read this in just about two days. I wasn’t trying to rush it, nor was I unable to put it down, I simply enjoyed reading it more than surfing the net or watching another TV show. Excellent job, Ms. Sussman.
This book is essentially broken into 5 parts. The first and last are short and show the relationships between three private french tutors working in Paris.
The second is about Nico, a tutor, and Josie, an American french teacher. Josie is in Paris nursing her broken heart. Perhaps, luckily she is paired with Nico the bleeding-hearted poet. 
The third is about Phillipe, a tutor and horrendous flirt, and Riley, a lonely expatriate mother living in Paris. Riley moved to Paris with her small beginnings of a family and has failed to fall in love with the city as she’d hoped. She hasn’t even managed to learn the language after a full year!
The fourth is about Chantal, a beautiful Parisian tutor, and Jeremy, the American husband of a Hollywood actress. Jeremy is a man out of his comfort zone. He’s a homebody and would prefer to stay in his home in California, but his wife drag him to Paris with her to shoot a film.
Each person involved will learn things about them selves they never would have guessed.
I adored this book. It was such a lovely story about personal growth and knowledge! It’s also a story of love and heartbreak and family and happiness and sadness and… ALL THE EMOTIONS! It is certainly an adult novel that touches on some very mature content, and I loved it. After almost solely reading YA lit, it was a nice wake-up call into the real world of adult life that I’ve begun to dabble in. 
For the characters, I related most to Chantal. Maybe not all of her at the moment, but some of her now and some of her in the past. One quote in particular hooked me to her more than anything else. Jeremy asks her “What are you drawn to?” and she replies with an answer straight from my heart: “Language. Words. No, not teaching. Perhaps one day I’ll write something.” I just… too many emotions in those couple of lines to even express! I also really loved Josie’s story and I love the relationship Nico and Josie develop. I liked Phillipe and Riley the least. I couldn’t find myself even semi relating to either. I don’t have a family to relate to Riley and I can’t imagine being like Phillipe.
Over all, this book is definitely a 5 star book! Perhaps it’s the Linguist or the French major in me, or perhaps it’s the realist and the romantic, whatever it is, this book struck a chord and I’m so glad I read it. If you like thought provoking adult novels, this one may just be to your liking. If you like travel literature that ends with the characters learning about themselves, you will most likely love this. I find it difficult to recommend this to a “type” of person because it’s such a great book. I want to just recommend it to everyone, but it may not be your forte. It’s still a wonderful book and if it begins to interest you at all, I highly highly recommend it!
Have you read French Lessons? What did you think about it? Which character did you connect with or like most?