As It Turns Out, My Wife Wrote a Book

Every year in November there is an event known as National Novel Writing Month, or more commonly “NaNoWriMo” for short. The entire point of the event is to spend the month of November writing 50,000 words towards a brand new novel you’ve never worked on before. Anyone is welcome to participate in NaNoWriMo and a lot of really good books have come out of authors giving it a try. As a matter of fact, I’ve reviewed several books here on 20four12 that were originally written as NaNoWriMo projects.

As it happens, last year my wife decided to give NaNoWriMo another try for the first time in several years. When we first married we tried it once or twice as something to do together, but each time we fell by the wayside as school and work got in the way. This time though, she had a decent idea rolling around in her head and off we went to try again at the whole writing thing.

On my wide of things I only made it to 3,916 words before some very large projects hit my desk at the office and my time and attention was needed elsewhere. My wife however, managed to make it all the way to 15,443 words before the end of November rolled around. Granted, that’s not the entire 50,000 word goal for the event, but it was enough that she had a great start and over the next two or three months she kept going and wound up with a finished product she was ready to pass around to some folks for opinions and edits. Soon enough she had things ready to go and be formatted for use on a Kindle and loaded up into the Kindle Direct Publishing system on Amazon.

Not many people get to say they wrote a book from start to finish, but my wife is one of those people now. As an English major she knows her way around a sentence and she’s done a lot of other writing over the course of her life. Finishing a complete novel is something she’d always wanted to do and now she can cross that off the bucket list.

I certainly haven’t written a book despite how many of them I’ve read. Maybe that’s something I’ll be able to cross off my own bucket list at some point in the future.

Here are the pertinent details of my wife’s endeavor:

Autocorrect StaysTitle: Autocorrect Stays
Length: 157 pages
Available: Amazon

Cover Blurb: A high-strung writer named Nat Howell and a relaxed soul singer named Pat Cavanaugh meet at a child’s birthday party; the unlikely pair begin to expand each other’s horizons. Pat is intrigued by Nat’s quirky humor. And Nat is immersed in the warm company of Pat. A writer’s challenge is issued: they will write something and have it judged by a jury of their peers. The winner gets glory and a dinner date, although not necessarily with each other. Each goes on an unfamiliar path to churn out creative material. Who will be the victor and will the prize change with time?

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Book Review: “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King

On WritingIt’s been a few months since I read On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, but I wanted to make sure and get a review written for it because I thought the book was fantastic, and if there is anyone out there unaware of how helpful it can be to aspiring writers, then they need to know that it exists. I first got a copy of the book because I wanted to read it before giving NaNoWriMo a try, unfortunately I didn’t manage to get to it before then.

Ultimately my endeavors with NaNoWriMo were a pretty decent-sized failure, but after that was all said and done I did finally read this book and it gave me a little bit of a pick-me-up and encouraged me in my writing attempts for the future.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft is split into two parts. The first part is a short autobiography about Stephen King’s life and how he first started to write when he was a young boy. It covers the silly stories he wrote when he was small, the newspaper he helped his older brother with, and then it moves on to his first successfully submitted short stories, novels, and then the beginnings of his career. I found the tales of his early career and his childhood to be fascinating beyond belief. There are so many little things about his early life that have influenced his writing in little ways, even the very small sampling of his books that I’ve had the chance to read so far.

The second part of the book is a series of chapters each dedicated to a different mechanic of writing short stories or novels. King talks about how to plot well, how to cut the extra fat out of your prose, how to make characters feel real, and a whole lot of other things. He gives straightforward, easy to understand advice that I feel anyone who wants to be a writer can find useful. Some of the things he mentions as good ideas I don’t agree with 100% due to personal style and preference, but despite that I can’t really argue with what he had to say, it was all good advice.

One of these days I’ll find the time to do some writing for real instead of not being able to dedicate much time to it and I’m sure when that happens I’ll be using the tips and tricks I got from this book to help me out. If you are someone who does any kind of creative writing of your own, do yourself a favor and read this book. You may only learn one small thing, but you may learn an entire mountain of things that will help you.

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Audible   |   Goodreads

NaNoWriMo Status Report: Day 8

Today marks the 8th day of NaNoWriMo 2013. If someone were on pace with the daily words written goal they would have 13,333 total words or more. That’s a lot of words if you ask me. Unfortunately, I’m not quite at that point, my word total so far is a mere 3,196 over the month so far.

Obviously I’m a little behind, but after thinking about it for a bit I’m not feeling too bad about it, at least not yet. Would I like to be on pace with the goal so far? Yes, but I think I can catch up, so I’m not stressing things.

So far I have a loose idea for a story revolving around a small revolutionary group with the ability to teleport at will while everyone else in society is limited to teleportation travel via established locations. I’m not really sure how to tie everything together at this point, nor am I really sure what to do about an antagonist, but I’ll get there.

My ultimate goal is to wind up with 50,000 words of source material to use as a starting point for a novella. I could do an entire novel, but I’ve been really inspired by the novella length works I’ve read lately such as Brandon Sanderson’s Legion and The Emperor’s Soul, Hugh Howey’s first few Wool installments, and several others. One thing I’d like to do in the future is establish a series of novellas that I can serialize on the blog (or another blog dedicated to it specifically). So, NaNoWriMo seems like a great sort of thing for getting all sorts of great ideas down on paper and then having a nice block of material to shape and carve into something awesome.

I’ll report back in another few days with an update and we’ll see if I’ve managed to catch up and how things are going in general at the halfway point of the month.

Looks Like I’ll Try NaNoWriMo This Year

Back in 2006 I first heard about the National Novel Writing Month event that takes place every November. For the entirety of the month anyone who wants to try can make an attempt at writing 50,000 words of a novel. You can write whatever you want so long as it is something new you haven’t worked on previously before the start of the event. I gave NaNoWriMo a shot in 2006 and 2007 because back in high school I had aims at trying to be a writer of some sort. In each of those two Novembers I wrote a few thousand words, maybe close to ten thousand, I don’t remember the exact details. But, I fell off the wagon within a week or so of starting.

This year I’m going to try again. It’s been a long time since I’ve done any writing, the last time being in 2010 when I was taking a creative writing course from Brandon Sanderson at BYU. In that class I wrote about 15,000 words over the course of an entire semester. Obviously that’s only a small chunk compared to what I’ll be aiming for this November. Making the leap from 15,000 words over four months to 50,000 words in 30 days is going to take some pretty serious dedication on my part.

The bigger question for me right now is whether or not I can come up with something to write. I’ve got a very tiny germ of an idea for a science fiction story involving a small team of people who have the ability to teleport. Plot, antagonist, supporting characters, setting, etc… not a clue what I want to do with that. I’m a little worried I don’t have enough of an idea to pound out 50,000 words before I run out of material in my head. I still have a few days of mulling it over inside my head before the writing starts though, so maybe I’ll have some new ideas before the starting gun fires.

Given that I’m not really a prolific writer by any means and given that I don’t have much in the way of recent practice with writing I’m thinking I might not try for writing an entire novel this year. 50,000 words is a great start on a novel if you have a nicely formed idea in your head, but for my first writing endeavor I think my end goal is going to be something more in the novelette or novella realm. If I can hammer out 50,000 words of semi-coherent content I’m thinking I could then spend a few months rewriting and slicing things down into something relatively polished and about 15,000-20,000 words in length, possibly closer to 10,000 words if that’s the way things worked out best.

Accomplishing something like writing a short story, novelette, or novella would be a pretty big thing for me personally, so that’s what I’m going to shoot for as my ultimate end goal with the 2013 NaNoWriMo. So, wish me luck and if everything goes well then perhaps I’ll have something to share with everyone here on the blog sometime in a few months. That would be pretty awesome I think.

Writing About More Than Just Books

I’ve realized a lot lately that I want to write about a lot more than just books. Sometimes the topics I want to write on are related to sports, television, movies, general opinion, or even more outlandish things. The trouble is, I never feel like I can write about those things here on 20four12. It often feels like I’ve only given myself permission to write about books because this is a book blog. As though the few dedicated readers that actually follow 20four12 would be offended if I wrote about something different on occasion.

Well, as of today I’m going to give myself permission to write about other things besides just books. I’ve taken a lot of time off from writing here lately for a variety of reasons, but now I’m ready to get back on the blogging horse so-to-speak. But, I want to write about books and other things. I’m not going to change around the navigation and make it harder to find all of the things I’ve written about books or anything, but sometimes a post or two might show up about a television show I’m enjoying, or a movie I went to see, or maybe even some significant event in sports news for all I know. I’m now giving myself the freedom to write non-book related things whenever I feel like while still having 20four12 function as a “book” blog at its core. The navigation dropdowns and so forth will all remain book-centric and the sidebar will stay almost entirely book-focused as well.

I figure if I have the avenue already established to write things for people to read then there is no reason I need to find another location to write about other things if I’m in the mood. All topics can live on this blog in a happy manner I think.