Lucy’s 5 Tips for Surviving NaNoWriMo

2013-Participant-Facebook-CoverIt’s November again, and you know what that means, kids. No, not time to bust out the Christmas decorations…time to write like crazy idiots for a month!

I love National Novel Writing Month. It’s pretty much the only reason I can claim any full rough drafts under my belt. And messy or not, a rough draft is a rough draft. Nanowrimo taught me how to turn off editor mode and just write some damn words. Some drafts I’ve never looked back on. Some I’ve taken to the second-draft level or beyond. But I’ve never regretted trying, even when I’ve stalled out in the first week.

So, with no further ado, my 5 tips for surviving Nanowrimo (and having something to show for it).

1) Pace yourself.
Whether you’re a Nano-newbie or a seasoned veteran, don’t let yourself get overwhelmed; that’s the easiest way to fall behind. Especially if you’re a newbie, or have never completed Nano before, focus less on the daily word count requirements, and more on the task of writing daily. That’s the real habit we’re trying to build, here. If you can focus on that, and keep going even if you’re behind, you’re more likely to make it to the end of the month.

2) Take it scene by scene.
The first time I finished Nano, I did it by writing basically a series of connected vignettes. I titled each scene something snappy and memorable, and didn’t worry about the connecting bits or the overall flow. I just wrote the scenes I wanted to write, that I felt inspired for, no matter what order they fell in. I could come up with them any time during the day and jot down an idea, a summary, or just a first sentence, to use when I got home. It’s still how I keep motivated, especially in the first 10,000 words, when the story is still finding its voice.

3) Don’t look at the forums.
Ok, so the forums can be really helpful sometimes; they can be good if you get stuck, need to blow off steam, or want to celebrate a new milestone. But it can be really demoralizing, especially if you’re behind, to see people posting about how easy they think Nano is, or how they can’t believe they’re finished—yes, finished—already. They’re not trying to be mean jerks, but it can be really discouraging. The forums can also be plain distracting. So unless you’re really stuck and need help with a problem, get your writing in before you go to the forums.

4) Read the Pep Talks.
It may seem like a distraction, but those pep talks are always really motivating to me. I love hearing authors talk about writing, even if I’m not familiar with all the authors. More than that, I like imaging what I’ll say someday, when I’m reminiscing about how my best-seller started out as a humble little Nano draft. Yes, I find my ego very motivating.

Here’s a great pep talk from Rainbow Rowell, the author of Eleanor & Park.

5) Its Just a Month
If you’re sleep-deprived, or getting jittery from coffee, remember: by December, this will all be a memory. And even if you don’t have a full 50,000 words, or a completed novel, as long as you start Nanowrimo, you come away with more than you had in October.

Also check out my advice for how to beat the Week Two Blues, and an alternative to the 50,000 words.

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The Enchanted Forest Chronicles

Some stories stick with you, and the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, by Patricia C. Wrede, has been one of my favorite series for most of my life. I first read it in elementary school, and I’ve reread it every few years since then.

dealingwithdragons searchingfordragons callingondragons talkingtodragons

I love this series mainly because Cimorene (the main character in the first book, Dealing with Dragons, and a significant character in all the later books), is about the most badass princess you will ever meet. She’s not satisfied with the normal responsibilities of a princess, and when her parents force an engagement, she runs away, and offers her surfaces to a dragon. Dragons routinely take on (well, usually kidnap) princesses to take care of their houses, and Cimorene is perfectly fine with that idea. (She also bullied her household into teaching her to fence, cook, and work some magic, so she’s more prepared than your average princess)

Cimorene defies all the qualities typically given to princesses, but she does so without being necessarily critically about those qualities. She’s simply not that type of princess, even if such things simply aren’t done. Cimorene is unflappably practical, and her her strength comes mostly from her intelligence. She’s a wonderful role-model for children, without casting a bad light on other princesses; she’s strong, but not bitter.

All the books play with the concept of fairytales, so they’re entertaining to adults as well as children. They’re fast-paced and fun, but also pretty damn smart.

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Cover Reveal: Ten Days

Today I’m pleased to be part of the cover reveal for Olivia Mayfield’s Ten Days!

Are you ready for it?

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. Continue reading

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Poison Blog Tour

poisonSixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her  kingdom is on the verge of  destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend. But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart…misses.

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

I’m honored to be a stop on this tour. Poison’s author, Bridget Zinn, passed away before she could see her book released, so a bunch of us have come together to celebrate her book. I’m chronicling the adventures of my own piglet on Instagram, and running a giveaway for two copies of Poison.

For this tour, they asked us to talk about firsts. There were a lot of important firsts to pick from…should I talk about the first time I rode a bike, the first boy I ever thought was my soulmate, the first girl I ever had a crush on? Should I relive my first day of college? My first graduation? My first pet? Like everyone, I have a lifetime of firsts to pick from, but since this is a tour for a book, I’m going with:

My First Writing Notebook

It was green. Not as lovely a grass-green as my best friend’s notebook, but a darker forest green; a pathetic imitation, really. I could have gone with a different color, but green was both our favorite color, and why should she get to claim it just because this was her idea?

We were writing our Life’s Work. That was we called it, anyway, this new writing venture. The idea probably came from a book, or maybe a movie, or possibly even a teacher, but the source didn’t really matter. It was a big decision, and one we took seriously. She was a fan of Anne of Green Gables, so she was writing something in that vein; I was writing Star Trek Voyager fanfiction.

We wrote every day. We wrote in the school library, on the playground, in the middle of class…but my favorite place to write was on my couch, tucked completely under my grandmother’s quilt, with a flashlight. It was hot and stuffy, but it felt like the best place to concentrate. No distractions; nothing but the page in front of me.

Back then, the idea that it took years to write a book, and then more years to see it come out, seemed like an impossible cruelty. We were in fourth grade; it was hard to conceive spending more than a few weeks on ANY project, and I don’t think our green journals lasted much longer than that, though I don’t remember consciously stopping work on My Life’s Work.

I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since that green notebook. It’s been in the back of my mind, and often in the front, every day since. I even learned to finish projects, and have a few rough drafts under my belt, if no polished manuscripts. I’m still working towards that dream.

It’s sad to me that Bridget Zinn wasn’t able to see her book, Poison, come out. Every author deserves to see their work in print, but seeing how the community has come out to celebrate Bridget’s book is really powerful. One of the things I’ve loved about running this blog and the blog for RainTown Press has been the opportunity to interact with this lovely book community in Portland, and I’m so glad this tour came about.

poisonSixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her  kingdom is on the verge of  destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend. But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart…misses.

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed
with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

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Poison Giveaway

To celebrate the Poison Blog Tour, I’ve doing a giveaway. And not just ANY giveaway. I went to the launch for Poison, and was able to snag a limited-edition copy, signed by a host of local YA authors. I also have the unsigned copy I bought prior to the launch, and I’m happy to give them away to two of you lucky readers!

poison

Enter below to win:

1 multi-author signed copy of Poison
or
1 non-signed copy of Poison

I’ll be selecting two winners (US residents only), and the signed copy will go to the first winner.

IMG_1169The limited-edition copy was signed by a bunch of Portland YA authors, including Laini Taylor (The Daughter of Smoke and Bone), Sara Ryan (Empress of the World), April Henry (Girl Stolen), Lisa Schroeder (It’s Raining Cupcakes), Ruth Tenzer Feldman (Blue Thread), and Inara Scott (The Candidates), among others.

The unsigned copy is still quite lovely :)

Enter to win!

About Poison

poisonSixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her  kingdom is on the verge of  destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend. But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart…misses.

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed
with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

About Bridget Zinn

bridget_zinn_photoBridget grew up in Wisconsin. She went to the county fair where she met the love of her life, Barrett Dowell. They got married right before she went in for exploratory
surgery which revealed she had colon cancer. They christened that summer the “summer of love” and the two celebrated with several more weddings. Bridget continued to read and write until the day she died. Her last tweet was “Sunshine and a brand new book. Perfect.”

Bridget wanted to make people laugh and hoped readers would enjoy spending time with the characters she created. As a librarian/writer she loved books with strong young women with aspirations. She also felt teens needed more humorous reads. She really wanted to write a book with pockets of warmth and happiness and hoped that her readers’ copies would show the watermarks of many bath time reads.

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The Seeking Pig

pigandbook

Kyra looked down at the little creature. It had perked up at the sound of their voices and lifted its head to look at them in what Kyra could only describe as a hopeful way. It wasn’t that she’d never heard of Katzenheim pigs, but more as the punch line to a joke than as an actual practical means to finding someone. The idea of trusting her mission to a pig seemed borderline insane. 

-Poison, by Bridget Zinn, page 33

This month I’m proud to be one of over a hundred bloggers who are part of the blog tour for Bridget Zinn’s YA fantasy, Poison. Sadly, Bridget died before she could see her book debut, so her friends, family, and community have come together to celebrate for her.

My official stop is Sunday, March 24th, but in the week leading up to it I’m going to be chronicling the adventures of my own “seeking pig,” inspired by Poison‘s adorable Rosie. I’ve made a Instagram account (TheSeekingPig) just special for the event, but I’ll also be tweeting the pictures. Stay tuned, as there may also be a giveaway later in the week…

Follow the pig on Instagram!

Follow me on twitter

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Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

the cover of Daughter of Smoke and BoneTitle: The Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown, & Company
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal

When I first read this book a year ago, I couldn’t wait to reread it. Literally the second I turned the last page, I looked forward to starting it again. So when the sequel, Days of Blood and Starlight, came out, I was ready to dive back into that world. And I have to say, the second read-through was just as satisfying as the first.

Karou is a normal girl living in Prague, doodling fanciful creatures in her sketchbook, and avoiding her boisterous ex. Except the pictures in her sketchbook are far more than just doodles, and when she visits home, its through a mysterious door that only opens from the inside; and the family waiting for her on the other side is decidedly not human.

Some books are less interesting the second time through, especially books that have a mystery woven into them. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the opposite. Knowing the mystery just makes the story all that much more interesting, because this time you know what to look for.

This book has some really interesting, well-developed characters that have stuck with me since I first read it, and the lush writing creates really striking scenes; some books are hard to envision, but this one isn’t, even given it’s unusual settings and characters.

On this read-through, I was once again struck by how gorgeous the language is. However, now that I wasn’t so focused on trying to solve the puzzle of who Karou is, I was also able to notice some flaws. No book is perfect, and I found that this book’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness; the descriptions are gorgeous, but sometimes there is too much describing and too little experiencing. It doesn’t change my love for this book, but it makes me really excited to read the sequel, because I love watching authors grow with each book they write.

This book was sort of two stories in one: one in the present, and one in the past. You really don’t discover that past story until the last forth of the book. I can’t wait to find out how all the characters react in the sequel; how all the consequences fall together.

Check out my first review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone on RainTown Press’ BlogTown.

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