Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Top 5 Tips for Completing NaNoWriMo Successfully

Hey you there? Aren't you supposed to be writing your novel for NaNoWriMo? I know I am. I guess we're both busted. Well, since you're here we should just go ahead and discuss some ways to help you finish your goals by the end of the month. The first 10 days, scratch that, 11 days of NaNoWriMo have been quite the eye opener for me. Now I am not new to writing, but trying to complete 50,000 words in 30 days is certainly a lot harder than I had anticipated, especially when this little annoying thing we call "life" gets in the way. So, here are 5 of my best tips or maybe I should just call them what they are: the problems I have had thus far. Maybe you can learn from my mistakes.

Tip #1- Clean your house before you start writing- or leave.

When I am working at home, one of my biggest pet peeves is the mess. I always feel like I need to do the dishes, finish the laundry, sweep the floors, organize toys, etc. before I can sit down and write. Now that procrastination tactic might work on a normal schedule but you have 1600+ words to write today, do you really have time to worry about those other things? I promise you they will still be there December 1, but if you don't meet your goals where will your self-esteem be? That's right, in the pooper. So, if you didn't or didn't know to clean your house before you started your NaNoWriMo writing, then my best suggestion is to leave. I know its cliché to write at a coffeehouse, so go to the library or park or your mom's house or if you're into it: a bar. Just go somewhere that you can avoid being a responsible adult for a few hours until you meet your word count. Who is going to remember the date and time you finished all the laundry for the week? No one, but you will remember the date and time you finished your first book. Keep that in mind when you are tempted to start scrubbing the floors.

Tip #2- Disconnect or put away your computer.

I know this is going to sound a little crazy, but get rid of the computer if you are procrastinating. If you must type then disconnect the internet. It is so easy to troll away on Facebook or BuzzFeed and you can kill 3 hours, well faster than it seems on these sites. If you can't keep your eyes away from your friend's status updates or tweets then it is time to break out the old fashioned paper and pen. I have been using a legal pad and pen all week and I have been much more productive, albeit not perfect, but better than usual because I don't have all the interesting cat pictures and YouTube videos to catch up on. Plus I kind feel like it is easier because I don't have to self edit when the little red or green squiggles pop up while I'm typing. I can just get my ideas out and then when I go back to type it in I can make the adjustments without ever breaking my writing flow. If you are having trouble try handwriting it, and if it feels strange just imagine you are channeling Emily Bronte or Nathaniel Hawthorne. Typing is new, writing is not. Keep that in mind too.

Tip #3 Plan what you are going to write.

If you do not have an updated outline or synopsis, please take the time to write one now. I promise it will save you time in the future when you run out of steam or write yourself into a corner. Now since I had an outline that I have been working from, you'd think, I would be alright. But alas, no. I was working from an old outline when this week I realized I could no longer use it. I spent an entire day reworking my outline and making adjustments so it would be much easier for me to follow daily. This will also help eliminate some writer's block if you know what needs accomplished each day. Had I done this prior to the start of NaNoWriMo, I may not have had to jump my word count from 1600 to 2000 words per day. However, if I, the self proclaimed queen of procrastination, can do it, so can you. It is not too late. Don't give up just yet!

Tip #4 Make a writing schedule.

So, this seems like a no brainer and it may be to some of you that have regular weekly schedules. However, I do not. I am every bit as random in my daily life as I am here on this blog. So, I tend to get caught up in things that prevent me from writing when I expected to be writing. To solve this problem, I had to consult my schedule and set aside a time (3 hours) for me to write. Some days this is early morning, others mid day, some evenings and lastly some days, all day. This may not be practical for you, so if you work a normal 9-5 work day you need to choose time in the morning or evening to work or even a little of both. And most importantly stick to it! See Tip #1 and #3 if you are having trouble with procrastination.

Tip #5 Create a face that will scare away anyone that tries to distract you while you are writing.

I am dead serious about this too. You should discuss with your family, friends and roommates that you are working and they need to leave you alone during your designated times (see tip #4). If they do not proceed to scare them with a Jenna Marbles face so they know you mean business. This face will also work for annoying baristas, small children in the library, or a creepy guy trying to hit on you. This is important because distractions are going to keep you from completing your novel. Keeping them to a minimum is a must. So, unless there is a fire, projectile vomiting or bone sticking through skin, it is not worth it. Use the face. Source: Jenna Marbles Scare Face Video

So, there are my tips. Where are you on your word count today? I am way behind, I only have about 3800 words. Yeah. I'm gonna go.

See ya later,

-Jami Lynn

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fall Book Haul

hint: if you don't like zombies get out
Did you see what I did there? Eh? Ha. I'm hilarious. Anyway, I love books. If you didn't know that or at least assume, then you obviously haven't been here long. Even though it is NaNoWriMo and I should just be focusing on writing, sometimes I need a little inspiration. Or when using brain function is no longer an option, as that appears to happen quite often...  So, I have compiled my list of books I am reading, planning to read or have just completed for the fall. Let me know what you think about my choices or if you have any suggestions for my winter haul.


*In no particular order...

1. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

I finished this book about a month ago. I would have to say that it is incredibly creative and well researched. It reads like a biography including journal entries, letters and photographs and is so well written that the theory actually seems plausible. With that being said, it reads like a biography. There are not very many skin-crawling action scenes because of this. Don't get me wrong there are gross and disturbing aspects, but I wasn't pulled into the action in the same way a fantasy, horror or urban fantasy novel can. But on the plus side, there were no strange or misplaced adolescent love triangles either. Mr. Lincoln was strictly business. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and I don't think that I will ever be able to look at Abraham Lincoln the same. I would recommend this book, but just be forewarned that the huge action sequences are few and far between. If you have seen the movie and have any comments about it, let me know if it is worth watching.

2. Feed by Mira Grant

I know what you are thinking; what another zombie/vampire book? But you know what I say to that? Bite me. It was right next to World War Z in the bookstore so I couldn't resist. I haven't actually started reading it just yet. It's the first book in a trilogy, and starts 20 years after the zombie apocalypse. It looks like two survivors uncover a conspiracy behind the infected disaster. And they will tell the truth even if it means their lives! Dun dun-dun duuun! I am actually pretty excited about this one, so I may start reading it tonight since I am having The Walking Dead withdraws today. I wish that show was on every day.... sigh I may only be a dreamer. Anyway, if I have any strong feelings about this book I may do a review on it. If you are interested let me know.


3. Looking for Alaska by John Green

So, I know I am a little behind with the John Green phenomena, but I loved this book. Was it a little predictable? Yes, but that did not detract from the amazing story telling at all. It was funny, it was gut-wrenching and it was real. I felt like I was my sixteen-year-old self again while reading this book, and that my friends, makes this book worthwhile. Mr. Green obviously doesn't forget to be awesome. I am hoping to get another one of his books for winter, which one should I get and why?

 4. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

I decided I need to throw in some classics. I read a lot of classics in undergrad and now again in grad school, but I still feel like some how I missed several well known novels. So, I chose this book because I have always wanted to read Vonnegut and pretend like I am one of the beatniks smoking in a lounge and listening to jazz. I actually don't know why I associate Vonnegut with the beatniks as he was not a beats poet so never mind... Anyway, I loved this book. Billy was an awesomely weird character and the time travel was just the cherry on top. I think I would love to apply psychoanalytic theory to this book... hmmm what do you think? If you are debating on this book, you should read it. It's not long and despite the common thought that classics are boring, this book does not adhere to the stereotype. And people should read more classics, I mean they're classics for a reason.

5. The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

I honestly know nothing about this book. I found it in hardback for about $4.00 so I decided to pick it up. I love historical fiction and my thesis novel has some of this genre's characteristics. I justified picking it up because I could use it for research as well. Plus I think it sounds interesting. The basic premise is a psychiatrist works with a mute painter obsessed with an unknown woman to try and heal him. So, it involves love, art and insanity. All three are on my list of awesome. There are some pretty negative reviews for this book because it apparently different than her best selling novel The Historian. However, I haven't read that book, so I have no preconceived notions. I am rarely disappointed in historical fiction and I have little doubt this novel will be any different. Have you read either or both of Kostova's books and what do you think about them?

6. Behind the Attic Wall by Sylvia Cassedy

Yes, this is a children's book, but I have a great story behind it. My mom randomly bought this book for me when I was 10. I read it and presented a book report on it in 4th grade because it was the best book I had read in my life at that point. Apparently, I was pretty persuasive because a bunch of kids wanted to borrow it and eventually I never got it back. So, I have looked for it most of my life and I finally found it on Amazon for a penny a few weeks ago. I don't remember much about it but I am actually pretty excited to read it again. It involves a creepy house, an orphan and possibly some ghosts. I am kind of hoping the baby will let me tie her down and listen to me read it. Is that illegal? I am going to make her like books!

7. Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Okay, so I know this series is a huge deal right now. I have been reading this book, but I am having a hard time getting into it. I am really trying to slog through it because I heard the later books are much better. I mean the premise is interesting to me, a girl discovers she can see beautiful supernatural beings that live amongst the normies and they fight off evil demons. The problem I am having right now is with the world building. There hasn't been very much information to make any sense of what is happening to Clary. I love her name by the way. There needs to be some explaining done because weird names of people, beings, etc. get tossed around that I don't know or remember because they are too weird. But I want to at least finish this book and then I will give a better explanation of my problems with it. Did anyone else that read the book or series have this trouble in the beginning? And is it worth continuing?
Bonus Book! Fundraising the Dead by Sheila Connolly
Ok, so this isn't a new book for me, I actually picked it up a few years ago at a mystery writer's conference. It's just a basic mystery with dead bodies (good), museums (great) and a female sleuth (excellent). The makings of a great rainy or snowy day book. The reason I am including it in this post is because I, like most writers, collect books. I have so many books just sitting in my house that have never been read. So, it is my goal, much like my goal to include some classics in my reading, I want to try and get through some of these unread books on my shelves. Does any one else suffer from book hoarding as much as I do? Should I also start doing this on my Kindle collection as well?
I had a ridiculous amount of trouble with the images on this post. If it doesn't look right please let me know. I just love that it looks different from the work screen to the published screen. Whatev's I officially give up. Also, I would like to do one of these posts every season, so like this post or comment on it if you are interested in what I am reading or if you would like to see a review on one of these books. Thanks so much for reading and I will talk to you awesome nerds later!
Ta ta for now,

-Jami Lynn