A Thought about NaNoWriMo

2013-Winner-Square-Button

 

 

 

 

I spent last monty trying to write a 50,000 word book for National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. In case you don’t know what it is, Nano is an event win which you spend 30 days, and try to write a 50,000 word novel. I made it, just barely. Tofinish, I had to cram down 13,000 words in the last day. But I did it, and thus won the NanoWriMo contest! Yippee.

To complete Nano, what it is absolutely required that you do one simple thing: turn off your inner editor, which is hard for me becasue I edit for a livinig. SO, I had to forcemyself to stop my fact checking, corricting grammar, typoss, and spelling problems. Just write. It’s an excelent exercise in creativity: simply let your thoughts flow. No plot? No problem. Just write, which brings me to a point.

On a Facebook group I belong to, one writer said he wasn’t doing Nano becasue he didn’t have the money to buy a book cover and sell it. I wish I had said something to him, because I sincerely hop he isn’t thinking about slappoing a cover on it and trying to publish it. I wouldn’t show my dog the manuscdript I just workied\ on. I’d be ashamed.

To drive my point, I am writing this blog post just like did my Nano book. I wrote it off the top of my head, as fast as I can, with my inner editor offf. And as bad as this post is written, I have still done a lot of back spacing and re-writing. However, all the red squiggles tell me that this post is still attrociosjly written.

So to my fello writers, plese, please, please, don’t slap a cover on your nano book and put it on amaozn. Pleas! Tkae time to edit it. Re=write it, work on the plot issues. I  promis that your manuscript is  no more ready to publish than this blog post is.

On Quiet

A few months ago, a power outage in the neighborhood of our church occurred in the middle of the service. The sound system shut down, three projection screens went out, and the air conditioning stopped. The church has a backup lighting system, so we had light. Our pastor asked us if we wanted him to go on, and we did. He spoke to us without amplification for 30 minutes. And the first thing I noticed was how very quiet it was. I heard nothing but the pastor’s voice and an occasional cough in the audience. The effect was, for lack of a better word, electrifying.

We don’t realize just how noisy our society is. Sound from radios, televisions, MP3 players, computers, tablets, phones, cars, and people surrounds us, engulfs ours minds, blocks our thoughts, and drowns our feelings. It’s no wonder our blood pressure’s up, our heads thump, and our nerves are jangled. I find that sometimes I just need a little bit of quiet.

Yesterday when I picked up my wife from work, I was thinking about how to put some characters from several different but related short stories I wrote into one novel. Actually, that was a problem I’ve been thinking about on and off for months with no luck. So while I was driving, I turned off the radio and quieted my thoughts. I stayed in that state, quiet environment and quiet mind, until I picked her up. I still didn’t have an idea when I arrived, but my mind was still quiet and peaceful. Finally, when I woke up this morning, I had an idea–a way to put all these characters into one book.

Is the idea any good? We’ll see. But now I have a starting point.

So the next time I have a problem, instead of stressing and pondering and working it over, I’m going to pray about it, then be quiet, and see what happens.

Review of Mercenary Measures

Mercenary MeasuresMercenary Measures by Brandon Collier

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My biggest complaint about the book is that the writing is bland. It’s an odd juxtaposition of a fast-paced action story and bland, almost clinical writing.

Though the writing style could use improvement, I enjoyed the story itself. Furthermore, book is fairly clean of typos and grammatical errors. I’ve seen some, but it’s not as bad as many indie authors, especially for a book of 581 pages. The book also came across as very well researched in its descriptions of Brazil.

As far as character development, it is better than I was expecting. At first, I thought Malestar was going to be a stereotypical psychopath. But he turned out to be more complex than I thought. I didn’t feel particularly sympathetic about any of the characters. They all came across as sociopaths, near sociopaths, and sociopath wannabees. However, they were interesting.

So given that the writing style could use improvement, yet relatively clean of typos and grammar errors, the story itself is good, and the characters interesting, I’m giving it a 3.



View all my reviews

My Review of A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We throw the word “epic” around so much that we’ve watered down the meaning. So if you want a reminder of what something is that is truly epic, read A Game of Thrones. This novel is complex, breathtaking, and thoroughly enjoyable.

If you’ve been fed a steady diet of CBA books, you’ll likely find the novel disturbing. However, none of the disturbing scenes are outside of of what you’d expect in the medieval-like society Martin created.

I can’t wait to start the next novel because, after all, winter is coming.

P.S. With authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien, and George R.R. Martin, I no longer feel worthy to have the middle initial, “R.”



View all my reviews

Outlining Oath of the Brother Blades Sequal: Curse of the Brother Blades

I started the outline for Oath of the Brother Blades recently, and am happy with where the story is going. I like to outline before I start the actual writing because it is a lot easier to fix plot problems in an outline than when you’re 100 pages into a manuscript.

I have tentatively titled the sequel, Curse of the Brother Blades. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, especially since I’m not done with the outline. But I do have a scene I like in which the fairies accuse Thomas of murdering fairy.

If you don’t know who Thomas is and what he has to do with fairies, you can get caught up by downloading a free copy of Oath of the Brother Blades from Smashwords at:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/321246

Opportunity Knocks, but Should You Answer?

As I approached my college graduation, I answered a job ad for what I was imagined was my first step to a meteoric career into the world of journalism. The Gallup Independent in Gallup, New Mexico needed a news editor, and I knew I was the man for the job. It seemed to the opportunity of a lifetime.
I knew that because I had no experience (or even course work) in journalism, I needed to grab their attention. So I made my resume to look and read like a newspaper, and sent mailed it off.
If I knew anything, I knew I wanted that job. I wanted it so bad I couldn’t see straight.
A few weeks and one interview later, I got a phone call. They were offering me the job! The pay wasn’t going to be much, but what could I expect with no experience?
I shouted across the house (where we were able to stay for free) that I got the job. My wife was so excited for me, she burst into tears. I decided let her bask in the glory of my success and call my friends and family with the good news. I had my opportunity.

Thug in a peephole

Warning Signs
Shortly after accepting the job, signs that my opportunity wasn’t going to be as wonderful as I thought appeared. The first and most obvious sign was the salary. I figured out that after rent in a modest apartment, food, utilities, and student loan payments, I would be short every month. But this was my opportunity, and I was just young, arrogant, and stupid enough to believe that I could somehow pull it off. Next, we found out my wife was pregnant with our first child. So I would be taking her away from our family at the time when she would want to be around them the most. But that was okay because I just knew we could make it. It was, after all, my opportunity. And the third sign, which was the least obvious but should have been the most obvious, was that my wife did not want to move to Gallup. I found out later that what I thought were her tears of joy were actually cries of disappointment. But unlike my self-absorbtion, she selflessly didn’t want to ruin my opportunity.
The Obvious Consequences
I lasted a whole three months at my “opportunity.” Gallup for us was a horrible place to live. We were constantly out of money. My wife was isolated and miserable. We worried about the quality of health care my wife and our new child would receive. On top of that, the job was extremely stressful. I was consistently late on my deadlines, sometimes holding up the production of the entire paper.
Finally, I swallowed my pride and gave them notice. I left Gallup jobless and with a child on the way, and we ended up moving in with my mother. To earn money to pay make debt payments, I had to start waiting tables.
My Lesson
Life is full of opportunities. However, just because we have an open door doesn’t mean we have to step through it. When making decisions, we need to seek God’s will (something I didn’t do before my ill-fated move to Gallup). But as we seek God’s will, we also need to use the brains He gave us. We need to ask ourselves if there are any glaring problems with our opportunity. We need to seek ask the advice of people with more wisdom and experience. And if we’re married, we need to get the input and agreement of our spouse.
I don’t want to scare anyone out of making a bold, or even risky decision. However, all decisions need to be made prayerfully, with wisdom and with reason. What is are your motivation? Do you want it so bad you can’t see the downside?
I never returned to journalism, though I finally got a job as a technical writer, which is my profession today.
Don’t forget. When opportunity knocks, look through your peephole before opening the door.

My Review of Emotional Moments by Ani Chibukhchyan

Emotional MomentsEmotional Moments by Ani Chibukhchyan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Emotional Moments: Exactly What the Title Implies
Emotional Moments is a collection of short stories that touch upon love, loss, loneliness, and personal growth. Some of the stories are short enough to be considered flash fiction, which is good for ADHD folks such like me. However, I do not consider several of the pieces stories. For me, a story, even a short story, has a plot with a beginning, middle, and end. Several of the pieces don’t have those elements. I would argue that they are more like poetry or informal essays. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it is not technically correct to consider them stories.
As far as her goal of describing emotional snapshots, I think Chibukhchyan does a good job. The stories that I enjoyed most were:

Ten Years. A story about a couple who lost touch with each other.

The Bus Rides. The adventures of an intelligent young woman studying in Europe.

Cyber Trap. A story about a woman in a cyber cafe during a power outage.

Unfortunately, this book has a lot of problems with grammar, word usage, and punctuation. Some of the stories also have issues with point-of-view, jump between present and past tense, or flip between first and third person narrative. With some cleanup, these stories could be much more effective than they are now. I would encourage the author to enlist an editor to help these stories reach their full potential.



View all my reviews