NaNo Boosters

November is NaNoWriMo month! 

If you’ve never heard of it, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, a time when thousands of hopeful writers spend every possible minute banging out  the novel they’ve always wanted to write. Those who finish a 50,000 word novel in thirty days receive a certificate of completion, and little booster badges to keep going.

NaNo started back in 1999 as a support group for a bunch of friends. Today, it’s grown into a massive non-profit organization with more than 150,000 participants. More than 400,000 people finished their novels. 

Sounds great, doesn’t it? More than 250 NaNo novels have been picked up by publishers.

Two hundred fifty, out of hundreds of thousands. And that’s part of the problem. NaNo focuses on speed and word count, not quality. They encourage you to write schlock – don’t think too long, don’t get locked up, let the ideas flow. Git’r done. People finish their novel and can’t wait to send it off to a publisher. And the publisher will see the line “I just finished my novel for NaNoWriMo…” and immediately the manuscript will hit the trash can.  

Why? Because in many ways, NaNo is a pat on the back, nothing more. A writer – someone who is dead-set on writing, knows the craft – doesn’t need a dedicated month to write or stickers to keep them going. Writers write. That’s what they do. Nothing stops them. NaNo makes it a game for those who wish to be writers, but often don’t know what to do. There is no accountability for content – you could type “This is my novel” 13,000 times. Finishing a manuscript, typing The End, is only the start of a writer’s job. It’s shaping the clay before the sculpting, putting the pencil sketch onto your canvas before the paint. Every manuscript – every, save a very few elite writers (and I’m not talking rich or popular ones) – is garbage at the rough draft.

Every.  One.

Every novel must be edited, rewritten, checked, rechecked, spellchecked, polished, and inconsistencies and logic errors ironed out. Plot holes must be sewn shut. Grammar – please, oh please – must be fixed. No manuscript  goes to an agent or publisher on the rough draft. Most writers doesn’t even let their beta readers – those friends whose opinions they trust – read their rough draft. You might slap that story together in 30 days, but the editing and rewrites are more likely to take months. And even when you’ve edited it twelve times, made the corrections of six beta readers, run it through grammar and spell check, there will still be some error that everything has still missed. 

You want to write? Write. A writer burns with passion. A writer wants their work to be the best it possibly can, not rush production for a certificate of completion. Quality is the key that will open doors. Read everything that you can lay your eyes on. Learn format. Learn editing. If you have a question, check it on the internet. Check your facts – if you aren’t sure an African Swallow can carry a coconut, look it up.  Cross-reference to make sure your source is correct. Author Naomi Wolf – a respected writer with several influential best-sellers to her name – was caught red-handed when she realized in the middle of a radio interview that her interpretation of relevant material was completely wrong. The publisher then pulled the published book. ALWAYS do your research.  Anyone who has the seen the movie My Cousin Vinny is well aware that a 1964 Buick Skylark was not available with positraction, a tiny fact that would escape most people but proved hugely important in the legal case of the film. Facts matter.

And when you do finish your manuscript, with or without NaNoWriMo to keep you focused, and you think you’ve got something good, check out these books on writing to help you polish it into a sure-fire winner! 

Strunk and White: The Elements of Style
The Writers Digest Writing Clinic  
From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction
Writing and Publishing Your Book 
Writing the Blockbuster Novel 
The Craft of Writing Science Fiction That Sells
How to Self Publish Your Book
Just Write: Creating Unforgettable Fiction
Sol Stein’s Reference Book for Writers   

Cheshire Library also has a Writer’s Group that meets monthly (run by yours truly), check our Events Calendar for Cat Tales Writers Group and join us!

Book Review: Creativity, Inc

 

Every once in a while you come across a book you would never attempt to read but for some stupid reason you do, and you are so thankful you did. This is one of those times.

While researching material on writing, I came across a recommendation for a book, and I kind of scratched my head. This was a book on business, and there was just no way I would read a book on business – my eyes would glaze in the first page, the same way they do if someone is talking actuarial tables or student loan forms. What could such a book have to do with writing? It just so happened the library had a copy I was able to grab. And that book, despite being a couple of years old (2014), is the best book I have read so far this year.

Creativity, Inc. is written by Ed Catmull,  who was part of the driving force behind Pixar Studios, the film company known for making ground-breaking and award-winning (and record-breaking, with more than 14 Billion dollars in revenue) animated films, such as Toy Story, Monsters,Inc, A Bug’s Life, and more. When Pixar and Disney merged in 2006, he applied his same priciples to the flagging animation department at Disney, who hadn’t had a hit in 16 years. Disney shot right back up with films like Wall-E, Cars, Incredibles, Coco, Brave, etc. To read this book is to relive the last 30 years of animated film making. If it’s not a walk down memory lane for your childhood, it is a reminder of all the wonderful films you saw with your children. If you haven’t enjoyed any of them, run and grab one today. 

What is Catmull’s secret? Of course a strong bottom line is what investors want, and Catmull agrees, but he refuses to allow the creativity of the artists to be stymied in any way. There are no superstars – not even preferred parking. Everyone from the janitor to the lunch lady to the writer is allowed equal – respected – input. Employees are encouraged to do what it takes to keep happy and relaxed, because happy employees are productive employees. They are encouraged to take time for classes offered at work – art, archery, whatever. If they are producing a film in Africa, a team of writers and artists will take a field trip to Africa and experience what they are trying to portray. Films, from first idea pitch to final cut – are brought up for constant, honest review, where the ensemble team toss ideas off each other about the work, good or bad, and the film may take a twist for the better from it. Every artist is respected every step of the way. Written into the contracts is a proviso that if a film reaches a certain amount of return, a portion of that is given to the employees as a bonus.

Needless to say, Pixar and Disney Animation staff are  happy to go to work. 

So, how did that all relate to writing?

Remember that movies start as stories. Someone has to write them before they can be filmed. By keeping an atmosphere that encourages creativity, no matter how odd (come on – talking cars? Emotions? Bugs? A rat who likes to cook? ), by immersing yourself in a creative environment, by learning to take constructive criticism without imploding, you become a better writer. A writer needs feedback as they develop ideas, as they write the ideas, as they polish their ideas into a final copy.  

This book was a joy to read. Grab it, read it, whether you’re looking for a business model to follow, as a manager looking to improve productivity, as an artist looking for appreciation, as a movie person wanting to know more about Pixar and Disney films. It’s all there. 

Be amazed at the process, and then check out one of the masterpieces Catmull’s presided over. Wall-E, Coco and Up are perfect for adults!

The Incredibles   –  Ratatouille  –  Cars  –  Shorts Finding Dory  –  Wall-E   

Inside Out –  Brave  –  Monsters, Inc  –  Toy Story  –  Coco  –  Up

Freshen Up That Resume!

stock-photo-resume-forms-with-phone-on-table-job-interview-concept-1030784911Spring is the traditionally time we clean things  out around the house.  Why not apply the same  idea to your resume? It may be past time you went in there and spruced things up a bit. Fortunately for you, the library is a valuable resource for more than just  the latest thriller novels and that movie you couldn’t make it to the theater to see. We also pride ourselves on being a fantastic resource for the every day job hunter!

Included below are a couple of tips and tricks to updating your resume, polishing its look, and making it stand out to a new prospective employer.

  • First off, make sure you’re succinct and to the point, do the hiring managers job for them if possible. No matter how well written, your resume won’t get a thorough reading the first time through. Generally a resume gets scanned for 25 seconds. Scanning is more difficult if it is hard to read, poorly organized or exceeds two pages.
  • It’s best to use clear type and headings to lead the viewer’s eye through the page, stick to classic fonts, such as Times New Roman, Arial, or other easy to read, classic fonts.
  • Tailor your resume to the job you’re applying for! Do some light trimming if you feel certain jobs aren’t relevant, or include achievements you feel would help you stand out.

    – Example: You’re applying for a job in sales and you’ve helped your town sell tickets to raffles every year. This achievement will highlight that you’re experienced in sales, and also interested in helping your community.

Example: You had a job at Target back in 2005, and now you’re applying for a job in graphic design in 2019. You can leave Target off the list if you feel it’s no longer relevant.

Using Active Language –

  • Your resume should be written using active language without extraneous words. This means using power words, such as “achieved”, “earned”, “completed” or “accomplished”. If your resume is too long or seems hard to read, you might consider making sentences shorter or ideas more concise.For example, you may have a job description that reads: – “During my time at Freedom Inc, I ran multiple team-based projects and helped each team member with various tasks associated with each project.”This example could be shortened and strengthened in the following way: –  “Led multiple team-based projects and effectively coordinated group tasks.”

Finally, make sure you send your resumes to friends, relatives, and others you trust to proofread and edit. Another pair of eyes is important to the writing process, and having someone else read through your resume can give you a fresh perspective. Feel free to CV resume. Job interview concept. Writing a resume.stop by the library and reserve one of our new study rooms to write and research in private. All you need to do is call or visit one of our reference librarians and sign up for a slot! We also have online resources that can help you perfect your new resume, including BrainFuse’s Job Now. This helpful site includes templates you can follow, resume assistance from live assistants, and help finding the perfect fit job for you.

Who knows, 2019 may be the perfect start to a new career, a step up in your field, or the chance to pursue new goals and challenges. Take the chance and apply for that job that you feel is out of your reach, or maybe one you never thought you’d be interested in. Don’t worry, the library has your back the whole way.

CPL has several guides for writing & polishing up your resume, both on our shelves (look under 650.14), and ebooks (via OverDrive and hoopla with your CPL card).

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in May

MAY we interest you in some programs this month? When you’re done groaning over that terrible pun, check out some of the highlights from May’s event calendar:

Friends of Cheshire Public Library Spring Book Sale

  • Thursday May 4, 2017, 9:00 AM  –  8:00 PM
  • Friday May 5, 2017, 9:00 AM  –  4:30 PM
  • Saturday May 6, 2017, 9:00 AM  –  4:30 PM
  • Sunday May 7, 2017, 12:00 PM  –  3:00 PM

Bargains! More Bargains! And don’t forget Sunday is Bag of Books Day – fill up a bag of books for one low price (bags provided) – $10 for one bag, $15 for two!

Tuesday Movie Matinees

Tuesdays, May 9, 16, 23, 30 at 1:00 PM

A different movie each week! No registration required.

Mark Twain in Connecticut

Tuesday May 16, 2017, 6:30 PM

Dr. James Golden of the Mark Twain House and Museum  explains the importance of Connecticut and Hartford to Twain’s life and work, including his famous neighbors, such as novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe, travel writer and journalist Charles Dudley Warner, Civil War hero and senator Joseph Hawley, and female suffrage campaigner Isabella Beecher Hooker. Registration is required.

Writing Workshop: Story First (Plotting your novel)

Wednesday May 17, 2017, 6:00 PM

This workshop takes participants through the process of developing an idea into a workable premise that can generate a full story. From there writers will examine how to build a plot that will keep readers asking questions and turning pages until they reach a powerful and satisfying ending.  Presented by author Steve Liskow.  Registration required for this adult program.

Pet First Aid with VCA

Thursday May 18, 2017, 6:30 PM

Pet First Aid will teach participants emergency care procedures for your fur babies and provide tips for keeping your pet healthy too. Join us as Doctor Deborah Goul, Director of General Practice at VCA Cheshire Animal Hospital, and other VCA ER doctors,  Please be so kind as to leave your fur family at home. Registration required.

 Introduction to Microsoft Word

Wednesdays,  May 24 & 31,  2017, 6:00  –  8:00 PM

This class will provide an introduction to Microsoft Word and is divided into two sessions.You will learn basic navigation skills to effectively use the Microsoft Word program:

  • Create a simple document.
  • Edit text and check spelling errors.
  • Format the document.
  • Insert a picture; change font formatting and much more.

Please register separately for May 24 and May 31 sessions.

STEM Coffee Hour: Virtual Reality

Thursday May 25, 2017, 7:00  –  8:00 PM

STEM Coffee Hours are designed for adults who are interested in learning more about a particular science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) topic. The general format is an informative presentation followed by group discussion. Facilitator: Dr. Tracie Addy, Center for Teaching and Learning, STEM Educator, Yale University. Please be aware that Coffee Hours are first come, first served. Please arrive 10 minutes in advance. If for any reason you are unable to attend, please cancel your reservation to open your space.  Register here (required).

Above and Beyond

Thursday May 25, 2017, 6:30  –  7:45 PM

Join us for the incredible documentary film of the escape from Nazi-occupied Europe by Jewish-American Pilot Bruce Sundlun and his subsequent return to support the French Resistance. Registration required.

Soccer Shots Mini Demo Class (ages 2-3)

Tuesday May 30, 2017  – Two sessions: 10:30 AM  &  11:15 AM

Soccer Shots of Central CT will be hosting a demonstration class for kids ages 2-3 years old. Soccer Shots Mini is a high-energy program introducing young children to fundamental soccer principles, such as using your feet, dribbling and the basic rules of the game. Through fun games, songs and positive reinforcement, children will begin to experience the joy of playing soccer and being active. This program is presented by Soccer Shots of Central CT. For ages 2-3 years old with caregiver.  Registration begins May 9.

What to Do After NaNoWriMo

You made it through November with your NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) novel completed! You’ve spent the last few weeks reading through it, making changes, and having friends read it.
Now what?
51WO4VbO7lLIf you’re really serious, the next step is to track down a book such as the Writer’s Market or the Literary Marketplace. These are the free-lance (if you don’t have a writer’s contract from an employer, you’re free-lance) writer’s Bibles. Whether you are writing a memoir, a magazine article, an indepth research on the history of the Madagascar Lemur Louse, or that spy novel that’s been twisting in the back of your head, this is the book you NEED to read.

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Both books are full of information for the beginning and professional writer. You will find encouragement, essays, notes on what to do and how to do it, professional agents who will promote your work and get you published, as well as publishers, what they are looking for, and more importantly, HOW they want you to submit your work. Do not waste the editor’s time by sending them a romance query when they do not publish romance stories. Don’t look like an amateur by submitting an email file when the agent only takes printed copy. Don’t waste your postage sending to a publisher who is not currently accepting new submissions. These books will tell you exactly how to submit your work, and to whom, to get it noticed.index

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Whether you choose to go a traditional publishing route or create your own published work through Amazon or similar sites, pay the money for a professional to review your work first, even if all you do is pay your child’s teacher to go over it. A professional will correct your spelling, your grammar, and maybe even point out a flaw you didn’t see. They can make your manuscript appear professional and polished, and give you your best shot. If you choose to include testimonials to your work, don’t use quotes from family members. Find someone with even a minimum of credit behind their name, or don’t do it. You want your presentation to be as professional-looking as possible.

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Remember, in the publishing industry, money is supposed to flow toward you, never away from you. If you are being asked to put money up front to help with costs, you are being scammed. There is a wonderful site every writer should know: SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America). This page is for all writers, not just fantasy and science fiction authors. It will alert you to the current scams aimed at writers who don’t know better, and take you step by step through what you should and shouldn’t do as a new writer of any genre.

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And don’t be discouraged by rejection. It’s not personal. Some publishers receive thousands of submissions per month. Even J.K. Rowling was rejected numerous times before Harry Potter was picked up by Scholastic. Imagine how those publishers feel now!