November is National Novel Writing Month, and if you don’t know what that is, please click on the above image because The Office of Letters and Light will do a better job of explaining it to you than me. During the month of November I do my best to write 50,000 words in thirty days. If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at novel-writing November is the perfect month to start because you’ll have 300,000 other people there to motivate you and encourage you and help you leap over plot holes.
I could tell you that it’s easy and that 50,000 words is not a lot, but that would be a giant fib and I’m not going to lie to you. I will tell you that winning feels AMAZING and you get a sense of accomplishment even if you know that your novel is going to require some serious editing later. There will be late nights and early mornings and getting eight hours of sleep at least one night a week will seem like an impossibility. Caffeine will become the newest love of your life for the duration of the month and you will get enormous dark circles under your eyes but after a while you’ll stop caring about your appearance because it takes away from your writing time. You will make new friends and have an intelligent support network (via the NaNo forums) at your beck and call at any time you need them, because you can’t afford to get lost on Wikipedia.
You’re probably thinking something along the lines of: I can’t write a novel in a month! I have no idea what to write about and I don’t have a plot. BUT YOU CAN and it will be brilliant. I had a general idea that I wanted to do something with Fairy Tales and Dinosaurs for this years NaNo and it took me maybe thirty minutes to think up a plot to combine those two radically different things. Your mind can and will surprise you with the sheer amount of imagination, creativity and ideas that it can produce.
Even if you don’t reach 50,000 words by November 30th you’ll STILL be a winner because you’ll have given it your best shot and you will probably write more than you ever have before. Yes, you will be rocking some serious sleep deprivation and be more over-caffeinated than you’ve ever been in your life, but it’s WORTH it. Your family will think you’re strange and some of your co-workers will avoid you when you’re writing in the break room, BUT IT’S WORTH IT. I promise.
If you’ve ever wanted to write a novel I highly encourage you to give National Novel Writing Month a chance, and if you haven’t, well, I can tell you that you’ll be missing out on a grand amount of fun.
You know when you’re a kid and you make that ONE great friend who likes all the same things you do and then you end up keeping them for the rest of your life despite them moving across the country and not seeing them face to face very often? Yeah, well I wrote a sappy poem-song about mine. Clearly I’m just trying to embarrass myself, but it’s absolutely worth it. Also – I am not a poet so this is most likely rubbish.
This is an accurate depiction of how our friendship started and still is. If anyone can pick out which books are referenced in the poem-song I’ll give them virtual brownies! ( I promise it’s probably not that hard to figure out – brownies for EVERYONE).
The Heart of an Open Book
Rainy day; school library
Eleven years old.
Stuck inside, but I don’t mind.
This story untold.
You sat down right beside
Me on the floor.
Nose in a book, I took a look
I’ve read that before.
Now we’re wrapped up in conversation
One that took us by surprise
Magic and swords, knighthood and wars
A squire girl with violet eyes
Finding common ground with fantasy
Made our friendship start to bloom
When the bell for class rang at last
I didn’t want to leave the room
Sunny day; school library
Seventeen years old
Time passed and up we grew
Our friendship no longer new
Still reading side by side
Our minds out with the tide
From the pages our eyes rarely stray
Until one of us has something to say
Suddenly a whirlwind conversation
That no longer takes us by surprise
Magic and charms, lightening bolt scars
A wizard boy with bright green eyes
Our love of books brought us together
And made our great friendship last
Best friends through the good and bad
Who knew time could fly so fast?
Now we’re twenty-five
With our own lives
There are provinces between us
And the distance made us wise
Now too many things take up our time
And books have taken the backseat
But now and then the phone will ring
And on the other end –
An enthusiastic conversation
That makes us pleasantly surprised
Dragon tattoos and family feuds
A girl who played with fire
Books keep us glued together
Even when we’re far apart
Friends like us will last forever
We know it in our hearts.
PS — It’s Banned Book Week and this is an awesome thing! Everyone should read a banned book at least once in their lives and this is the perfect time to do it! Go out there and fight censorship, WITH READING! How amazing is that?!
PPS — Did anyone else meet their best friend in a library? Or was it just us? We’re a bit weird so if it WAS just us then it wouldn’t surprise me.
PPPS — Happy October! Halloween is on the way and Autumn is here and that means that I can drink all the pumpkin spice latte’s that I want without getting strange looks!
For one reason or another I seem to think that buying material things will make me happy, and they do. For a VERY short while. A new laptop, Blackberry, or purse is NOT going to fill the void in my heart. It’s like I’m justifying the purchases by being convinced that this next new item will do what the other item didn’t. It will make me happy and somehow fix whatever is wrong with me. NOPE. Not even close. Despite knowing that it won’t actually help, I still listen to that voice inside that tells me to buy these things. I think it is most likely because I still get that small rush of adrenaline when I purchase some new thing. Endorphin’s create a small bit of happiness that I keep clinging to. Honestly, that type of happiness is like the one-night-stand that tries to get away without waking you in the morning. Fleeting satisfaction.
Books though! Books are fantastic. New books bring me ACTUAL joy. They fill the void a lot more that anything else seems to. They wake me up. They pull me past the sludge of reality and into something wondrous. Until the book ends. Less one-night-stand; more summer-fling. I know they won’t actually help fix me, but it’s nice to pretend. Distractions help get me through.
Know what else helps get me through? Amanda Palmer.
And in my mind
I imagine so many things
Things that aren’t really happening
And when they put me in the ground
I’ll start pounding the lid
Saying I haven’t finished yet
I still have a tattoo to get
That says I’m living in the moment
Happy 200th Birthday Mr. Dickens! If only you could have known the affect your writing would still have on the world two hundred years later.
“Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own; and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, it is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy that we can scarcely mark their progress.”
“Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.”
“There are strings in the human heart that had better not be vibrated.”
“It opens the lungs, washes the countenance, exercises the eyes, and softens down the temper; so cry away.”
“To conceal anything from those to whom I am attached, is not in my nature. I can never close my lips where I have opened my heart.”
“Life is made of ever so many partings welded together.”
Charles Dickens – 7 February 1812 to 9 June 1870.
I have always loved books. My earliest memory is of my father reading me Dr. Seuss before bedtime and I distinctly remember begging him to read me ‘just one more’. I also remember my first time in a library. My hometown has a wonderful public library and I spent the majority of my summer holidays curled up in there with all the books. During my first visit, I was with my babysitter Aunty Barb, a kindly old woman, with arms the size of tree trunks, whom I drove partially mad and quite frankly she had a very strong heart for the amount of times I almost gave her a heart attack. I was an awful kid, but I always behaved myself in a library.
I was enchanted. There was a lot of people, but everyone was quiet; talking in whispers, and it was as if the whole building was sacred. I remember being amazed at all of the books; I’d previously had no idea that so many books could exist in one place before. Aunty Barb was holding her breath and watching me like a hawk, waiting for the trouble to start but none did. I just stood there and stared with my jaw somewhere near the floor. Aunty Barb returned her books and picked up some new ones, all the while staring at me like I had grown a second head. For the first time in the four years of my short existence I was behaving myself.
The atmosphere of a library is singularly unique and I’ve never encountered anything quite like it. I’ve seen a library turn the most rowdiest kids into well-behaved darlings the minute they walk through the door; I was one of them. In my childhood it was the ‘magical book place’ and now it’s a safe haven, a quiet place to think and write and research. It’s a place of right answers and facts. It’s a place of sanctuary. My best friend became my best friend in a library. My grandfather met my grandmother in a library and they fell in love there. Libraries are capable of bringing communities together and contain more knowledge than most people will read about in their lifetime. Libraries can open doorways to different worlds and places; they can help you expand your imagination and they will always welcome you with open arms – much like the books they house.
Disney ruined relationship prospects for me, or rather, they raised the bar of my expectations with ‘Beauty and the Beast’. In the middle of the movie The Beast gives Belle a library. HE GIVES HER A LIBRARY. My seven-year old self couldn’t understand why she didn’t propose to him on the spot. If a person gives you a library, you marry them. I still stand by that ridiculous piece of logic today and if I had been Belle the situation would have gone differently:
“But I’m a monstrous beast!”
“Honey, you just gave me a library, your excuse is invalid. Now go see if the candelabra knows someone who will marry us.”
Clearly I should just go to rural France and find myself a cursed prince to love so I can get my own library.
I’m sure you could tell but this still needs saying: I love libraries. It’s an unwavering and fierce love, the kind that never truly fades away. I hope that everyone reading this visits their library today because they deserve more love than they are getting. If you’re open-hearted and love your library it will love you back a thousand times stronger.
You probably get this all the time, but I thought I’d write an open letter to you so I can let you, and anyone else reading this, know what a wonderful human being you are.
I was eleven when I was introduced (quite forcefully, by my future best friend) to Alanna and I ended up devouring her quartet. I, swiftly, moved on to The Immortals series and got to know Daine; it was fantastic. There I was, a tom-boyish eleven year old who finally found, not one, but TWO series of books with female leads who were absolutely NOT damsels in distress. This was very much like finding a million dollars on the sidewalk; I was telling everyone, who would listen, about your amazing books.
My mother noticed the change in me (mostly because I was failing math, but then again I was ALWAYS failing math) and wanted to know exactly what was so interesting about these books that I kept not returning to the school library. My mother is a brilliant woman, but fantasy is not her genre of choice – she loves fiction and thrillers and Stephen King. Adequately giving her a description of your wonderful books was very hard for eleven year old me. It involved a lot of jumping and flailing arms and adjectives. I have no idea how she managed to make sense of my pre-pubescent fangirling, but she got the gist of it: relatable female heroes being awesome and kicking a whole lot of bad guy butt. I didn’t know it at the time but my mother understood exactly how awesome it was for a young girl to find a series of books like that.
Prior to finding your books, I was reading a lot of books where the heroes were always male. Redwall, Harry Potter, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit, James and the Giant Peach, and a whole lot of Xanth Novels, to name some. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those books, I adore each and every one of them and most of them have some very strong minor female characters in them. There were also a few fiction books (most notably by Kit Pearson) that featured female leads and were very good, but there was no action. The female leads were sort of dainty and they were never put in any situation that required a fight or flight reflex. They were awesome books but they were lacking the fantasy and action that I preferred, which is probably why I was always reading novels with boy leads. I can say with great certainty that there is something very special about being a young-lady-person and reading about grounded and brilliant girls doing the butt-kicking instead of the boys. This was something that my mother never had growing up and I think that was why she encouraged my reading. She was the one who bought me Protector of the Small when it first came out in hardcover and every one of your books thereafter.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: Thank you, Mrs. Pierce, for all the effort and time you’ve put in to write the books that have had, and still continue to have, a great amount of influence on my life, even fourteen years later. Thank you for all the books you’ve yet to write and thank you for inspiring me to write about my own lady-folk heroes. You are amazing and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving my eleven year old self her absolute favourite books.
Sincerely and affectionately,
Everyone, click the link if you’re confused. If you aren’t confused, click the link anyway. — http://www.tamora-pierce.com/
Please note – Ms. Pierce’s books are fantastic for all ages, her writing style is brilliant and realistic and if you give her books a chance they will eat you alive (in a good way). If you’ve never read her books before, I highly recommend starting at the beginning (Song Of The Lioness Quartet) and working your way though all the series. If you were looking to start with some of her more recent books without much complication, you should probably start with her Beka Cooper series; Terrier is the first book. If you have children, and they enjoy reading, then you should definitely think about seeing if their school library carries these books, or if their birthday is close – buying the first series as a gift. It will be the best birthday present ever, I promise. My nephew will most likely be reading these books once he’s old enough.
(I know this letter isn’t perfect, but it’s my letter and I’m a fangirl. Basically, that should explain everything, right there. I’m just happy it came out semi-coherent and not all “ASDFGHK! YOU’RE AWESOME! I LOVE YOU!”)
I plan to make a series of blog posts like this; letters to some of my favourite authors. I think I might be setting myself up for failure here, but it’s always good to have goals!
As a budding novelist and an avid reader I usually find myself picking out phrases that really speak to me in someone else’s writing. I’ve taken to tabbing those phrases within the book so I can go back to them again and again. Trying to work out how the author made me feel that way, what words strike me and I try to learn through their writing how to better myself, in my own style. I enjoy it – it’s quite fun and the books I own are more colourful for it.
When I started reading The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, I had to stop tabbing because there ended up being two to three tabs per page. I decided not to tab-attack TFIOS because the whole book was simply amazing. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me borderline hysterical and I frightened my cats with my laughing/crying madness.
It was wonderful and brilliant and I was an emotional wreck for two solid hours after I was finished reading it. I am recommending this book, with great love, to everyone reading this humble little blog. As an adult who reads Young Adult literature, I can absolutely say that this book will be greatly enjoyed by anyone who picks it up.
Reading is one of life’s great adventures and goodness knows I wish I had the time to read as much as I did in Middle School. If I spent that much time reading now, I’d have no job, money or food. Darn those necessities of life.
I’ve managed to get the winter blues this year and it’s a first for me. I think Joline’s death is (obviously) the main reason for that and the fact that we’ve barely had any snow this year. I love winter and I love snow. My parents used to joke that I was the only true Canadian in the family. This year I’m having a lot of trouble keeping my optimistic personality in place without it cracking.
I dislike negativity and people who always focus on the bad things that happen to them. There’s a woman I work with who can’t stand to see other people happier than she is, and she’ll go out of her way to drag them back down to her level. I’ve never let her get to me before, but recently she’s just been driving me up the wall. I’m more than sure that I’ll be fine, but I don’t like the idea of someone else thinking they can control how I feel. She’s so negative it’s incredible. She enjoys seeing other people’s pain and it’s slightly disturbing.
There are a lot of things that help me focus on keeping my positive nature, and I’ve decided to share a few of them.
MUSIC. Loud music. Anything from happy show tunes to kick ass battle sequence instrumentals. If it increases your joy by even a tiny bit – listen to it. Frequently. I walk to and from work everyday so I have twenty minutes to get myself into a positive and motivated mood. If you drive to work, crank that shit up in your car and drum along on your dashboard.
READING. Fantasy, Fiction, Science Fiction; whatever your favorite genre – read it into the ground. During the days following Joline’s death I’ve managed to finish reading three books and I’m halfway through a fourth. I shouldn’t really promote escapism when trying to deal with the unpleasantness of life, but I’m pretty sure there are worse coping methods out there. An example would be alcoholism or shooting heroin or both. So if you escape into books to get away from life, that’s a-okay in my book. I do it too. (John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars, Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood and Terry Pratchett’s Guards! Guards!, would be good places to start.)
MY CATS. They are ridiculous and funny and they will make me laugh until I, almost, pee three times out of five. If you have pets, let them love you, or watch them do stupid things because they don’t know any better, or let them fight each other for space in your lap because, being needed makes you feel better even though they’re using you as furniture. Having a constant companion (or three in my case) can bring you joy just by scratching an adorable set of ears.
So there you have it. Some tricks for surviving the winter blues, and negative coworkers. Deep breaths probably help too, but I’ve found humming “This Is The Song That Never Ends” under your breath works better.