November is just around the corner.

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.

Advertisements

Let’s talk about libraries.

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:

“Marry me?”

“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.

Letters To Authors: Tamora Pierce

Dear Ms. Pierce,

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,

Nuki

———-

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!

Book babbling.

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.