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!

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!

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in November

Programs about Puppetry, Power, and Photographs are only Part of the Phenomenal Presentations you can Participate in at CPL in November!

ghostlyGhostly Photographs

Monday Nov 3, 2014, 7:00 –  8:30 PM

Julie Griffin, author of Ghostly Photographs: Ghost Stories You Can See with Your Own Eyes, (copies of which will be available for purchase on the night of the program) will tell the tales behind the very real “ghostly” photographs she has taken. Register on our website.

dvd1Tuesday Movie Matinees

Tuesdays at 1:00 PM

dvd2Tues Nov 4  – Saving Mr. Banks (2013 – 120 minutes)

dvd3Tues Nov 18 – The Pursuit of Happyness (2006 – 117 minutes)

Tues Nov 25 – Philomena (2013 – 98 minutes)

No registration required.

 Wrimo Write-In Wednesdays

Wednesday Nov 5 and Wednesday Nov 19, 2014, 5:00  –  9:00 PM

All NaNoWriMo and YWP participants are invited to Write-In Wednesdays on November 5 and November 19 from 5 – 9 pm. Drop by the Moss Room on the top floor for a dedicated space to write and rant as you strive to reach 50,000 words. The Library will supply power strips, scrap paper, and some resources for inspiration. Bring anything else you might need for an evening of high-velocity writing: laptops and power cords, tablets, typewriters, notebooks, etc. No registration required.

 rescue

Rescue of the Bounty: Disaster and Survival in Superstorm Sandy

Thursday Nov 6, 2014, 7:00 –  8:00 PM

Michael J. Tougias, co-author of Rescue of the Bounty: Disaster and Survival in Superstorm Sandy will give a dramatic visual presentation about this event.   The tall ship Bounty, featured in the Marlon Brando classic movie Mutiny on the Bounty, sank in 2012 during a voyage from New London, CT, to St. Petersburg, FL.  The Captain and a crew member perished, but the Coast Guard managed to perform harrowing helicopter rescues to save the other fourteen sailors. Register on our website.

verneCheshire Cats Classics Club

Monday Nov 10, 2014, 7:00 PM  –  8:00 PM

The Cheshire Cats Classics Club meets once per month on a Monday evening. This month we are discussing Around the World in Eighty Days, the classic adventure novel by Jules Verne. Copies of the book are available to check out. Please register on our website.

The Power Within, Part I

powerThursday Nov 13, 2014, 6:00 –  8:30 PM

Join Cheshire resident Cindy Mazzaferro, Registered Physical Therapist, Master Reiki Practitioner, Motivational Speaker and Life Coach, for a presentation on how your thoughts affect you physically, mentally and emotionally and what you bring into your life. (This is Part I of a two part series.  Participants of this session will have the opportunity to attend a follow-up session, which will be presented at the library on Thursday, March 12, 2015, at 6:00 p.m.). Register on our website.

PUPPETRY DEMONSTRATION with the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry

puppetsSaturday Nov 15, 2014, 11:00 AM  –  12:00 PM

Ever wonder how puppets are made for movies like The Muppets, and how people are trained to perform with them?
Cheshire Public Library is proud to host a puppetry demonstration with graduate students enrolled in the University of Connecticut’s puppetry program in affiliation with the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry in Storrs, CT.  The students will demonstrate several of their own puppets, talk about the world of puppetry, and answer any questions you may have about puppetry and what it takes to become a professional puppeteer. This program is for ages 6 and up. Please register on our website.

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Public Reception for Librarians Cindy Tencza and Sue Hartley

Monday Nov 17, 3:00 – 6:00 PM

Two long-time Children’s Librarians are retiring! Please join us at a public reception to help us say farewell to Head of Children’s Services Sue Hartley and Children’s Librarian Cindy Tencza.

arts-and-crafts-tableMaker Fun

Wednesday Nov 19, 4:00  –  6:00 PM

We’ll set up several seasonal crafting stations around the room and children will be able to make several art projects to take home with them at the end of the two hours. The framework of the program will be very loose, so children will be free to work at their own speeds and do only the crafting that interests them. Register on our website.

crystalFab Film Saturdays: THE DARK CRYSTAL

Saturday Nov 22, 2014, 2:00  –  4:00 PM

Travel back in time to the faraway planet of Thra. Cheer on the Mystics as they fight to overthrow the evil Skeksis and take back control of their planet! From the brilliant imagination of Jim Henson, this masterpiece of animation recounts the timeless tale of good vs. evil and has become a cult favorite of children and grown-ups alike! Running Time 1 hour, 33 minutes.  Rated PG.
NO REGISTRATION REQUIRED.  Feel free to bring your own snacks!

November = National Novel Writing Month

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How many of us have ever thought it would be pretty cool to write a novel? Most of us, right? Maybe you’ve had a story idea you’ve been carrying around for years, revisiting it from time to time to add a detail or think through a character, like a pensive twist at an unsolved Rubik’s Cube. Or, maybe you just like the idea of having something that you’ve created and completed yourself. Whatever category you find yourself falling into, November is National Novel Writing Month, and the perfect time to get writing.

Known to insiders as NaNoWriMo (na-noh-RYE-moh), it’s an annual challenge to write 50,000 words during the month of November. It’s free to join and open to any adult: the only requirements are that you must start with fresh material and only work from midnight on November 1st to 11:59pm on November 30th. If you’re under 18, NaNo runs a special Young Writer’s Program for kids and teens with slightly different word goals.

If 50,000 words sounds like a huge number, you’re right. It works out to 1667 words a day, about the same as five typed pages of 12-point double-spaced text. It’s nearly impossible to write anything other than a very rough first draft of a novel, and that’s completely by design: to get to 50,000 words, you have to shut off your inner editor and become a high-velocity writing machine for 30 days. It doesn’t have to be good. It just has to be.

So what do you win if you reach the goal of 50,000 words? Mainly bragging rights and the satisfaction of knowing you were able to complete the challenge. There’s no monetary prize or anything, but you do get coupons for some writing products. And at our NaNoWriMo 101 program on October 16th, Diane Scarponi, the Municipal Liaison for the CT Shoreline area, informed us that one particularly sweet coupon from CreateSpace entitles you to two free printed paperback copies of your novel if you hit the 50k word goal. Hooray!

For many NaNoWriMo writers, two copies isn’t enough: they want to share their novel with the world. Those who want to publish their work – after editing the daylights out of that first draft, of course – have a choice between self-publishing and traditional publishing. (It’s the same in the music industry: think musicians selling CDs out of a van, versus getting a contract with a major label.) It’s a tough game, but lots of authors who started their drafts during NaNoWriMo have gotten their finished projects into print via traditional publishers, and several of those novels have even gone on to become bestsellers.

The following titles all started as NaNoWriMo drafts, and against the odds, they’ve been published by major publishing houses and have made it onto the bestseller lists – and onto our shelves here at the library. Maybe you’ve already read them!

 

 

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Perhaps the best known NaNo novel of them all, this was made into a film a few years back that starred Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon.

 The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Another circus-themed read that has been making the book discussion rounds since it came out in 2011.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
The first installment of a super-popular YA series that features cyborgs, plagues, and outer space. You’ve got our attention!

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
The author of the bestselling Eleanor & Park didn’t rest on her laurels after it began appearing on bestseller lists. No, she decided to write 100,000 words during NaNoWriMo 2011.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Perkins’ debut novel and the first in a series of three young adult romances, NPR called it one of the best teen reads for 2010.

The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough
Before you start thinking NaNoWriMo writers are only doing chick lit and teen books, you have to know there’s some hardcore science fiction writers out there cracking their knuckles and then frantically typing. Hough’s Dire Earth Cycle, a trilogy of sci-fi thrillers starting with The Darwin Elevator, got its start during NaNoWriMo.

 

Are you doing NaNoWriMo in 2014? Let us know in the comments, or stop by during one of our scheduled Write-In Wednesdays on 11/5 from 5-9 pm and 11/19 from 5-9 pm!