Reading & Writing

NaNoWriMo Recap

cropped-pen-and-paper.pngI have to confess something, you guys.

I totally failed at NaNoWriMo this year.

I was doing so well for the first week, never letting anything get in my way–you could practically hear “Eye of the Tiger” playing in the background. When I didn’t know what to write I wrote anyway. I really started developing my characters.

Then I realized that my characters were me and my husband and it was getting too personal and convoluted and I was using it as therapy and I really didn’t want to write this story because it dug too deep and it felt inaccurate and I got overwhelmed. I tried to switch gears, start a new project. Then I got busy. I did what I told you all not to do; I skipped a day. Then I skipped another. I slid all the way down that slippery slope.

BUT: Do you remember what I said about NaNoWriMo being a writing exercise more than a quick way to produce a novel? Even when you don’t finish it, it is. And the point of writing exercises is to open up your creativity, give you fresh ideas, and maybe help you learn about yourself as a writer. For me, it was the latter. Continue reading “NaNoWriMo Recap”

Reading & Writing

NaNoWriMo Writing Prompt: Something Sweet


How’s it going, writer? Are the keys still clattering, the pens still scratching? I hope so. It’s pretty amazing to push through a challenge like this. There are low points, yes, but I think overall it gives you confidence. At the end, you get the runner’s high of knowing you finished a marathon. I know from experience: that feels amazing.


I want you to reward yourself today. If I could, I would give each and every one of you a piece of your favorite candy and a high five. (And if you don’t like candy, you weirdo, I guess I’d give you…um…bacon?) Obviously, I can’t do that (though if you know me personally, feel free to hold me to my word) but I can encourage you to get yourself a treat, sit down, and savor it. Continue reading “NaNoWriMo Writing Prompt: Something Sweet”

Reading & Writing

How to Win NaNoWriMo

blogger-chicken.pngHappy November!

Halloween has come and gone and today, All Saints Day, thousands of writers across the country are firing up their word processors for the first day of NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month.

If you’re not familiar with NaNoWriMo, here’s the gist: to participate in the official NaNoWriMo competition, you go on the website, create an account, and then spend the next 30 days hammering out 50,000 words of fiction. Continue reading “How to Win NaNoWriMo”

Reading & Writing

Weird and Wonderful Books to Read in October

It’s the Halloween season, with candy corn in all the stores and Hocus Pocus playing constantly on ABC Family (or whatever they changed the name to) but that doesn’t mean you necessarily want to read a Halloween book. Horror isn’t for all of us, and you can only read Dracula so many times (I maxed out at three). But if you want to read something sort of eerie, a little bit creepy, or slightly strange this month, something with a little substance and no real scares, you might want to pick up one (or all) of these titles.

St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell

Karen Russell is one of my absolute favorite authors. This collection of short stories is probably my favorite, with women turning into silk worms, girls struggling with their feral natures, and as much sparky, sparkling prose as you could ever want.

The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender

Aimee Bender is so weird but also sort of incredibly normal. There’s a lot of magic in the mundane in her fictional world, and I think that’s what makes her work so special.

After the Quake by Haruki Murakami

We all know Haruki Murakami is a genius, but I think his work isn’t always the most accessible. I think one way he really connects with his readers is through the use of magical realism (or whatever you want to call that phenomenon of using magic and fantasy within a realistic story–something all of the books in this list do), which gives the reader a metaphorical way of understanding his stories. Plus, giant toads and little green monsters are amusing.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

You probably heard that Kazuo Ishiguro just won the Nobel Prize for Literature, which I think is awesome. He’s such a fantastic writer, and this is my favorite of his novels (though I admittedly haven’t read them all). Closer to science fiction than fantasy, this book presents the perspective of a very special young woman who was not meant to be special at all. I don’t want to give anything away, though they did make this into a movie a few years ago so you might already know the gist of it. But even if you saw the movie, read the book. It’s so totally worth it.