Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Nanowrimo: Tips to slay 50k.

After many attempts at Nanowrimo I've figured out some things that work and don't work at getting you to that mythical 50k. So here's my ten tips for reaching that 50k mark. Here's hoping I can follow my own tips again for this camp and get myself that winner bar again!

1. Plan. Plan. Plan... I can't say it enough. PLANNNNNN!!!! (That was a shout out across the lands.) Even if you're a pantser, you need to plan something. At least get an idea of a genre you want to write in. Heck, you could even make a list of girl names and boy names so when it's time to name your characters you can just pick something out. Every moment from midnight of the 31st is time wasted if you're not writing. You're setting yourself back from the beginning.

2. When it comes to the writing process everyone says don't edit. I would like to scream a nice loud screw that! to the very idea. Delete away! Just a word of caution, know what to delete and what to push through. There's a very big difference between something that is poorly written/worded and having writer's block. The only reason I got past the 50,000 word count was by going back and editing a chapter after I finished it. (And I hate editing, so it was really just quick glances over and adding and removing things to make it a little better).

3. Don't try to be a certain type of writer. What I mean by that is you know yourself and you know how you work. I made the mistake of following along with some people on the forum who like to drink and then sit down and write. A bottle of wine later and all that did was cost me a day as I drank way too much trying to think of what to write next. I learned that I am not the type of writer to sit and drink, and I'm not the type of writer to sit with a massive bag of mini chocolate bars and a mug the size of my head full of coffee and write. I'm the type of writer who sits down after dinner, stick some headphones in and crank out my word count.

4. Write more than required for a couple of days. If you're on a roll and you're putting out material that you're happy with then don't stop. Get as far ahead as you can because come the middle of the month I can guarantee you you'll have hit at least one day where something came up and you weren't able to write or you didn't get much in. Write more when you can and you won't be as far behind when you miss a day. This saved me many times.

5. 2500 is a reachable word count for a day. Remember this when you reach closer to the end of the month. You may fall behind, I've fallen behind, I feel like I'm behind already and we haven't even started. Numbers like 2500 and 3000 are challenging for some, but they are attainable, don't be discouraged by that number. This is doable.

6. In the event you fall behind more than a day's worth of writing. You can still win, I did this last time, the only time I've won Nanowrimo. Looking at the number you're set back is daunting. If you go on the nanowrimo website, there's graph that shows you a line that you're supposed to reach everyday. If you're say, three days behind don't immediately look at that three day total, look at the first day you missed. This way you stay a steady pace behind and if you get on a roll, you can work into the next day's worth and soon you'll find yourself caught up.

This was my chart from this past November:

As you can clearly see, I fell behind for a few days but in the end I kept plugging away, trying to reach the next 1667 words. At the end I had to do a 3000 word push but it's way better than if I had quit way back at the 17th when I had started falling behind.

8. Participate in the forums. Participate a lot. Just wrote a couple hundred? Take a break, visit the forums. Can't think of where to make your story go? Visit the forums. There's plenty of people who can help you iron out your troubles. There's a place for people who want to write more than 50,000, less than 50,000, a place to talk about how much the 20,000 range seems to suck. If you're stuck, you can find the solution in the forums. Plus, the interactions with people also doing this crazy thing will keep you coming back. Bonus of seeing those bars fill up under people's names drives you to do better.

9. Do word sprints (there's a thread for that). You can follow Nanowordsprints on twitter for all kinds of sprints and prompts. You can also go to the forums and find all kinds of people running sprints all of the time. Try to beat them, or try to beat your own personal best. This is a great way to pump out a couple hundred words. Crawls are another great option, a combination of sprints and challenges made specifically to drive your word count up, they can be found in the forums.

10. Have fun, be happy, don't make yourself miserable. Nothing good comes from miserable. Have fun and enjoy writing!

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Finding Cinderella Review!

Again, in the name of researching my genre for the upcoming Camp Nanowrimo (see previous posts for an explanation of that), and in the name of free. I picked up the e-book version of this Colleen Hoover novella free in the Google Play store. Pretty much making the grand total of romance books I've ever read all of about three. I had heard good things about Colleen Hoover from Xtinemay on youtube (here) so I was interested in seeing what she had to offer.

A dark, passionate encounter with a girl Daniel dubs Cinderella, not knowing what her name is, leaves him searching for love in all the wrong places. Time passes and another girl walks into Daniel's life but he can't stop thinking about the girl named six.

This was a cute little romance novella that was short and sweet and well, everything I expected the romance genre to be. Though I don't have much to say about it because of this, I will say that this didn't go where I expected it to. There wasn't too much character development, it might have been nice to learn a little bit more about the characters other than their short history together. Overall I think I would have liked this to be longer as I feel there wasn't too much to review on, I feel like it was a cutesy moment in a snapshot and then it was over. That being said, there was a fair few moments where I found myself laughing and enjoying myself as the pages went by. Maybe someday I'll try reading Colleen Hoover again, but for now I think I'll be trying something a little different.

The Trouble With Goodbye Review!

So, I didn't really intend to read this book but for Nanowrimo I'm going to try and write in a genre I don't normally write in, and the best way to familiarize myself with it is to read it. Romance novels, contemporary novels in general are somewhat new to me, something I always shied away from in favour of sci-fi, fantasy really anything other than the 'real world'. I blame John Green for this new found love, but then I suppose I don't blame him I should thank him.

I picked this book out for a few reasons but honestly wasn't expecting much. I just finished a heavier book (The Silence of the Lambs, see my review here) and I needed something light, but I wasn't finding it on my shelf. So I searched through some e-books. I found this one for FREE in the Google Play store if anyone wants to give it a try.


Since I had never heard of this book before today, I feel safe in assuming I'm probably not the only one, so here's the quick version:
After a life changing college event Leigh Ann Davis finds herself coming back to the town she thought she had left behind. Two years after leaving, she feels like a completely different person than the ambitious girl who left for school only the short time before. Leigh Ann struggles to come to terms with the events that caused her to leave Boston and the expectation of the family and friends she's returning to. When she meets and begins to fall for Knox Warner there's more than just expectations on the line, when she's faced with the biggest decision of her life.

I hadn't expected much out of this and was pleasantly surprised when I found myself wanting to get back to it whenever I stopped reading. I do plan to read the sequel, as this is the first in the Fairhope series. I believe the series currently consists of four novels which follow the happenings of various characters in the town of Fairhope. 

I liked that this wasn't the pure fluff I thought it was going to be, there was some substance to it, granted it wasn't nearly as packed as my usual reads. This novel was a quick read, squeezed it in during work. That being said, 3.5 certainly isn't a 5 of 5.

This story lost points from me as it seemed quick, there were places where things could have been explained more and places where I wished characters like the mother would just shut up. The mother and father grind on my nerves and I know they're put there for the sake of connection. Everyone at some point gets to the age where they struggle with their parents about making their own decisions about their life. I just wished Cannon has toned it down a bit, by the end I felt like her decisions were being shoved down my throat.

The other thing that made it lose points for me was the event in Boston. I know that part of the whole deal in this book was the hard time she was having with the events that happened, but I didn't really like the way the author avoided it for so long. I read it and almost instantly knew what had happened but rather than saying it and making the opening up about it and the reader knowing what happened two different things they were grouped together in a way that seemed almost anti-climatic to me.

But the writing wasn't bad and I found myself really liking the main characters and feeling their struggles. I liked the lightness of their interactions and the seriousness they have at points, it's simple and believable and I enjoyed it.

I haven't read much romance before so I have nothing to really judge this against but I am interested in seeing where this series goes, it won't be the first sequel I jump on to read but you can expect to see a review for the sequel at some point.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Camp Nanowrimo: Planning, Planning, Scrapping, Planning

April first marks the first day of Camp Nanowrimo and that being about a week away there's things that us aspiring writers need to do. If you're already aware and are participating in April's event you're probably already planning, as I am, so I thought I'd share my process this year with regular updates to break up my story writing and (hopefully) keep me sane. Is anyone else attempting April's Camp Nanowrimo? How do you get ready for a month of writing?

PS. Yes, I've been singing this Lion King song through my head since I decided this was going to be my post today.

Moving on!

For those that have no idea what Nanowrimo is here's the lo-down:

The official National Novel Writing Month is November. It's a month of hard work, chaos, success, and failure with a goal of 50,000 words by the end of the month. That's 1667 words a day, for the month. As if that one month wasn't enough, there's a group of people that are crazy enough to do this to themselves multiple times a year, taking part in two other Nanowrimos called 'camps' which take place in April and July. The camps are a little more free, allowing you to choose your own goal for the month. Should you be successful on this mission, you will have the first draft of a novel by the end of the month, at which point you can tuck it away and come back to it later for the editing process.

Having only 'won' Nanowrimo once and attempting many, MANY times I've learned a couple things that work for me. So here's how I prepare for Nanowrimo.

1. Figure out what kind of story you're going to write. This camp, I didn't know what idea to use so I put all my ideas into a decision maker where I entered a few different genres including 1. a new fanfiction, 2. finishing said fanfiction from last round, 3. Writing an original piece. 4. Writing the piece I already started writing. I chose the winner from ten rounds.

2. PLAN. I used to try and pants it every time (go in with nothing planned, just a vague idea and write). Last Nanowrimo I found so much easier to complete if I planned it down to what I wanted to happen in a chapter. You'll probably write out some plans and then scrap them part way through for something else, this is why you do this before the month starts.

For anyone wondering, my plans look something like this:

WHO: (list all the main and sort of main characters and how they relate to each other in the story here)
WHAT: (What is happening in your story goes here. Be as detailed or as vague as you wish)
WHEN: (Present, Past, Future. As well as the predominant season the story takes place in)
WHERE: (Town, city, who's house will grace the story most, a particular area in town, any significant markers within these places, is it fantasy or real etc.)
WHY: (Why is this happening, what's the trigger that sets your story in motion?)

CHAPTER ONE: (What is going to happen in chapter one, as vague or detailed as you want).

3. Don't be afraid to scrap you plans for something else, this is why we're doing it now!

4. Collect your snacks and get ready! 

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Book vs Movie: The Silence of the Lambs

If you've read through my profile you'll know that the Hannibal series is on my list of favourite movies and The Silence of the Lambs has been for many years. For some odd reason I hadn't bothered to read it, I had read one out of the Hannibal series - Hannibal Rising but never the others. Then while in college, living in a small apartment over a used book store for a short period I spotted The Silence of the Lambs out on their sidewalk table and I snapped it up - I had to read it. It sat on my shelves though, along with the other books I had got at the same time and never bothered to read. Then a few things happened:

1. Project TBR
2. 0x16
3. 2015 reading challenge

So I looked at the challenges and decided to mash them together, I would try and fill my challenge topics with mostly old books sitting on my shelf and so The Silence of the Lambs was lifted from the dust again.

If you don't know what this book is about then at this point I'm guessing that you probably don't want to, but here you are anyways.

A young agent in training for the FBI named Clarice Starling yearns for acceptance to the FBI. Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the famous cannibal sits locked in an asylum after being caught for serial murder. Dead girls are found floating, pieces of skin taken from their bodies, and somewhere a man they call 'Buffalo Bill' is plotting his next strike. With the FBI overloaded and under pressure to solve the serial murders, Section Chief Jack Crawford calls on Starling to assist in some information gathering. Soon Starling finds herself face to face with none other than Hannibal Lecter and though terrible she's intrigued by the small bits of information he provides. It doesn't take long and she finds herself on the case, chasing down the notorious Buffalo Bill.

The book is just as brilliant as the movie, and at the same time a bit of a let down because of it. As someone who has read another of the Hannibal books, which was adapted much later to film (Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris) and was pleased to find some differences, I'm not pleased to say there wasn't much this time around. If you've watched the movie and are looking to read the book for those left out scenes and things that have been changed for the cinematic universe, you will be disppointed.

Though this book is well written and I'm sure would have been creepy, suspenseful and just the right amount of thrilling excitement, it was lost because of the movie. I wish I had had the sense at 14 to read the book before I ever let the movie play across the screen. The movie is <i>very</i> similar to the book, sure there are some differences, you learn more about Jack Crawford, you learn a little more about Buffalo Bill and how he goes about his plans, but mostly you get Clarice Starling and some slightly altered conversations with most of it being the same.

Though some may suggest otherwise, I wouldn't say that having the characters in your mind from the movie coming into this book is a bad thing. There really isn't much by the means of physical description given to the main character - Clarice, and minimal descriptors to the other characters. With things being so much the same it's very easy to picture <i>everything</i> in the book. Kudos to the directors and everyone behind the making of the movie, their adaptation was spot on, no one should have need to read the book.

The main differences you'll see between the two have mostly to do with the investigation. The book puts Starling as a bit more of a rule breaker, an agent willing to bend the rules a bit, willing to get kicked out of the academy in order to get the bad guy. Just like the movie, there is never something not happening within these 367 pages, things connecting, clues being left and leads to follow. I can totally understand why this book rose to the popularity that it did, especially in the year that it did. Today it's not as much the shocking thriller it was meant to be, in my own opinion anyways, with things like the Hunger Games - children murdering children classifying as a young adult novel.

Though the book was very well written and should have been a spectacular read, I wish I didn't take the time to read it - the movie did that for me.

The Last Hour...

So my first read-a-thon has come to an end and I have some mixed feelings about it. My day off was busier than anticipated and though I did get some reading in, I'm not all that sure it was more than I would have without the read-a-thon in place. That being said I'm interested in trying again maybe I'll challenge myself next weekend on our road trip to BC, plenty of time there!

In my previous read-a-thon post, I suggested that I may be done The Darkest Part of the Forest before the start of the read-a-thon, however I decided to save it. So I read almost two books in the 24 hours, not bad but I know I could do better. I'll be sure to write up a book vs. movie review for The Silence of the Lambs at some point today as I've always enjoyed the movie but this is my first time reading the book.

Did you participate in the challenge? How many books do you generally read in a read-a-thon?

Next time I think I'll do a couple things to improve my consumption of words.
1. Stay up for the night, or at least later than normal maximize on the opportunity. I definitely would have been about to get that third book in if I had.

2. Plan to be busy and prepare myself with an audiobook. I spent a couple hours out an about, if I had had an audiobook I could have gone along 'reading' while doing everything else.

3. Participate in the group activities to make endless hours of reading more fun than it already is!

4. Have snacks... lots of snacks.

That is everything I accomplished for this first read-a-thon, not too bad I don't think. I'll post the other review after breakfast.

PS. Yes, I love Doctor Who, amongst other things.

Friday, 20 March 2015

The Darkest Part of the Forest Review!

I read this as part of the 2015 Reading Challenge read-a-thon... well, finished it I should say. This was my choice for the book published this year. The cover is obviously gorgeous and the author has a name that draws people to her books so I was excited that this was going to be my first Holly Black book. It did not disappoint.

Firstly, can I just say that this was so refreshing. It is so nice to read a fantasy book that is a stand alone did such things even exist anymore? I swear they didn't everything needed to be a series to get the full story and yet somehow Black manages to show that you don't need to write 2000+ pages to finish a story. And I'd also like to slip in that she made reference to my two favourite Doctors near the beginning of the book so that was just a little extra going 'see? I'm fan-freaking-tastic!'

Moving on...


For anyone who hasn't heard about this book yet here's the quick run down:
Hazel and her brother Ben live in the town of Fairfold, a town occupied by both human and faerie folk. For years the sides have lived in agreement, a fragile peace of sorts; the Fae leave the locals alone on the terms that tourists are free game. With a Glass coffin that has sat in the forest for generations, a peculiar boy with horns locked sleeping within the tourists don't just come, they flood.

Hazel and Ben, like many before them fall in love with the boy in the glass coffin, their childhood built on stories of the prince and his glorious lives. The Prince only true love can save, Hazel the knight, and Ben the Bard, but as the years pass so do their stories. That is until he woke.

Now Hazel and Ben must find the Prince and stop whatever destructive force is threatening the town before it's too late.



I loved how this book had a modern and yet very old time fairytale feel all at once. This fairytale world of knights and magic swords and a sleeping prince you would never expect to see in the same realm as selfies and partying teenagers and yet it's here and it happens, in some cases in the same sentences. Somehow Black makes it seem effortless, as if that was how it always naturally occurred. Her descriptions were vivid and beautiful - I didn't want to put this down.

The story itself progresses nicely, there isn't much down time there's always something happening and there's always a story being told, the past, the present, what this character was doing, what they did etc. I don't have much to say with regards to this as it was well done.

Character development for our main characters was good, Black providing plenty of history for them. There were some characters I would have liked to have had more on, I would have loved to learn a little more about Jack's life and not his history but his actual life and more of how he felt with the humans. I also would have liked to have learned a little more about the Alderking and Sorrel. Though enough back story was given to prove what was needed for the story.

All in all I would give this book a 4.5 out of 5 because I'm greedy and would have loved if it was a little longer.

A Day of Firsts...

So today is a day of firsts. The first day I've ever blogged for real like, not Tumblr (they call them blogs but are they really?... I just look at the pretty pictures...) and for another first, my first blog post - if that wasn't obvious by that first first I posted. Today also marks the first day of the first read-a-thon I've participated in! It's also the first day of spring (not that you would know that here, at a toasty -17c) but that still means summer is coming so this kid is happy!

Alas, this is a reading blog, so I'll get onto the reading part - you know, that read-a-thon I was talking about? This is the 'First Term Read-a-thon' from the 2015 Reading Challenge group on Goodreads taking place from 8pm CST time (an hour ahead of myself) for 24hours. I don't know where to set my goals for this as I have never done a read-a-thon before so I'm going to set it to something I think may be attainable and I'm sure we'll find out soon enough.

I hope to be able to hammer out a couple of books in the prescribed 24hrs and knock a couple more books off my personal 2015 challenge list. So I will be reading (or trying to read):

This is topic four in my challenge - a book published this year. I plan to finish this as I have already started it. Isn't the cover gorgeous?! When I saw it I knew that I had to have it and of course I've also heard amazing things about Holly Black. However, there are many hours between now and the start of the read-a-thon so this may be done or nearly done by then.

This is topic ten in my challenge - a mystery or thriller. I loved these movies, and I actually read Hannibal Rising already so when I saw this at the used book store I scooped it up. Despite being anxious to read it at the time, I never got past the first few pages - too carried away with life. This is the perfect opportunity.
And if time allows I'll finish this one up! This is topic 52 in my reading challenge - a book you started but never finished. I've already read almost half of this book and it was good, but for some reason I decided to put it down and read twenty other books first... I'll be happy to finish this one, another with a nice cover. Quick note: the downfall of this book is that the pages are white and I mean WHITE wash your hands and don't eat anything while you read this one because they pages are easily dirtied.


I shall read...

Don't judge me... Ok judge all you want. This is week two for the challenge and I bent the exactness of this one a bit - a romance. Many will be up in arms over me calling it a 'romance' and I agree, I don't think there's much of a romance here, maybe a hint here and there. However, the story parts of the series draw me in a bit, even though it drips in it's former Twilight life. Plus there's a relationship there and regardless of if you agree or disagree with it's romance aspect - it's there. Mostly though, I just have a strong urge to finish the series.

So that's it! Call me crazy, and maybe I am, I'll post an update tomorrow night and we'll see where I stand!