NaNoWriMo 2014 Revision Plans

This was originally posted on my other blog, Reader Rayna.

I never posted this here initially, or really kept up with updates, but I did win NaNoWriMo this year with over 50k words (50,281 to be exact)! I’m very proud of myself as I won on day 29, and I wrote my butt off to catch up when I fell behind.

If you want to read a synopsis and excerpt from my novel, you can go check out my page.

So let me talk about my revision plans. I’ve got a lot of them planned, I’m just not going to get them started until the new year because my brain needs time to recuperate after all that writing and other busy things going on, plus my husband and I are going on a honeymoon to Disney World over Christmas, so… I have no time to think about my story.

Anyway, now that I’ve rambled, let me get on with my revision plans:

  • I’m going to rewrite the entire novel in first person point of view present tense from the perspective of my main female character, Dahlia, whom I connected with much more than my main guy character, Jake.
  • After that second draft (since my first NaNo draft is… my first draft) I’m going to polish it up and have several people who were interested in reading it read it.
  • Upon feedback from them, I will revise more and start looking for/querying potential literary agents who might be able to help me get my book published.
  • Yes, my ultimate goal is to get my work published, and I do love the story very much and I believe it would be a great debut novel (at least I hope). That doesn’t mean that I’m not going to grow in my writing from doing multiple drafts or anything of the like. As many people say, it’s not about getting published, it’s about the writing process.
    • What I’ve learned from it is that I missed writing. I missed being creative and spewing out as much as possible to create a feasible, entertaining story.

So my revision plans are pretty standard, I think, for any aspiring writer. I love my story and want to share it with the world. I have many other story ideas and writing plans, I just need to implement them and begin writing. No one’s going to tell those stories but me, so I may as well get on it, right?

Did you participate in NaNo this year? How did you do? What are your revision plans, if any? Let me know in the comments below!

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Tools of the Trade – Paper vs Screen

This is the first in a three part mini-series where I discuss the different tools of the trade when it comes to writing.

First off: paper vs screen (aka, computer).

As it stands, many people back in the ancient days (really, it was only like 35 years ago when the first home computers came about) didn’t have the technology to write on a computer, and so they could only write by hand on pieces of paper or parchment. These methods were often long and time consuming, and maybe sometimes the person would run out of ink and would have to find more or stop writing.

But what is the difference between writing on a page versus writing on a computer screen? Is there any sort of difference in the sort of emotional attachment to the words, or are they just different modes on communication?

Do you remember the good ol’ days in school when you would pass notes to your friends in secret messages on folded up paper? Nowadays, if a kid is spoiled, they have a phone that they can just text their friends with. But there was a sort of magic to the way paper holds the letters and how it is folded when it is handed across the room.

Aside from that, note taking by hand is a great form of memorization. Writing something down helps us to be able to remember the information later. It is a better way to memorize than by watching (visual) or listening (auditory) because there are certain neurons in your brain that connect writing to memorization.

But is writing on a screen any different? You’re still writing things down and memorizing them, right? Well, sort of.

Writing on a screen is faster and more efficient, and it’s a lot more legible if you have really bad handwriting. You can choose from many different fonts, colors, highlighting, big type, little type, and more. There’s also many different types of writing programs, such as Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Scrivener, among others, that you can use to write whatever you need to down.

Writing by hand takes longer because you need to form each letter, curve after curve, while typing on a computer does that for you.

In reality, though, it is up to personal preference and what you write on is really up to you. But if you want to look at it in black and white: writing on paper takes more time, but is better for memorization, while writing on a computer takes less time and you can get more words written down.

What’s your preferred method of writing? Let me know in the comments below!

NaNoWriMo 2014

Sorry for the lack of posts, but I’ve been super busy with working and getting ready for my wedding on November 1st.

Speaking of November, that’s when National Novel Writing Month is happening!

Haven’t heard about it? NaNoWriMo is a yearly event where writers of all writing levels take part in trying to reach the goal of 50k words in 30 days.

You’re probably wondering, “How in the world is anyone supposed to write that many words in that short of time?”

It’s actually quite possible. Many people have achieved that goal and went beyond it within the time allotted, or even sooner. When inspiration strikes it’s hard to get it to stop.

This year I will be participating in NaNoWriMo (even though it starts the day I get married). I already have an idea in place and I am really excited to be able to start.

My story is going to be a Young Adult sci-fi-ish novel based around a boy who ends up finding his way into an alternate world where he runs into himself – literally – and switches places with his alternate self to escape the real world. Upon finding himself there, though, he discovers that this alternate world is a lot more dangerous than what he had expected and he has to survive it if he wants to get back home.

I have the ending in mind, I have bits and pieces of how I want it to play out, but that’s all I’m probably going to give right now.

If you’re thinking about joining NaNo this year, or if you’re a returning member, add me as a writing buddy! I’d love to be able to read your stories and communicate with you as to how your progress is going.

Also, if you’re prepping for NaNo, don’t forget some supplies that you’ll probably want for the month: USB drive to save your stories in case some cataclysmic event happens to your computer; a computer or some other form of writing device (tablet, paper & pen, etc.); notebook to jot ideas down; coffee or tea to keep you up; and lots of supportive people who will bring your spirits up rather than kick you under the bus.

NaNoWriMo is a fun, long, and stressful time, but it’s also worth while because at the end of it you’ll be able to say, “I wrote 50,000 words in 30 days.” It won’t be pretty, and it’ll definitely need to be polished afterwards, but you made it.

In case you’re wondering, I’m going to try doing daily/weekly videos on my YouTube channel, plus some entries here, so if you want to check those out, please do!

Celebrating Occasions with Books

It’s no wonder that many people love receiving gifts – from gift cards, to big things, small things, expensive things, and all other things in between. Sometimes the gift is just the thing you wanted, and other times it’s something that you hope came with a gift receipt.

When it comes to book lovers, what’s the first thing that they ask for during any major holiday, whether it be their birthday (hey, to them it’s a holiday), Christmas, Hanukkah, or any other day, books are usually at the tops of their list.

But what if you don’t know their reading style? What if you get them a book – or series – that they already have?

It can be hard to shop for a reader, especially when so many different factors can play a part into what should and should not be given them. Let’s take a moment to explore some ideas for your average book lover:

  • Gift cards – they’re a great gift during any occasion, and you can give gift cards for specific stores, such as Barnes & Noble or Amazon. You can really never go wrong with this option.
  • e-Readers – they’re not all expensive and can hold thousands upon thousands of books in just the palm of your hand. From the nook to the kindle, there are several e-Readers that do the job just fine. You can even get accessories for each reader, which makes it more personal, and fashionable.
  • Book-themed apparel – yes, it exists. Haven’t you seen the “Okay? Okay.” shirts looming around some stores modeled after “The Fault in Our Stars“? Or what about the Harry Potter themed clothing items that can be found at Hot Topic? Do a little digging and you’ll find many places carry book-themed apparel.
  • Audiobooks – they can be just as expensive as hardcover books, but audiobooks are a great way to listen to a book for your busy, on-the-go, reader. There’s a wide range of different kinds of audiobooks, but not all books are made audio, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for a specific title.
  • Custom designed anything – have you ever viewed Etsy? It’s a website where people can hold little online shops and sell items custom designed for others. You can find many people who do custom bookmarks, totes, and other objects and make them personal to your book lover.

Those are just a few examples of the what you can gift your book lover. They will love anything given to them that’s book themed (as long as they liked the book). It can be challenging, but with so many different tools out there in the world, you can find that some of these things are manageable, affordable, and totally perfect for the book lover in your life.

What kinds of gifts do you give to your book lovers? What kinds of gifts have you received as a book lover? Let me know in the comments!

Kids & Reading

It’s no shocker that kids who read do better in school – and not just in their English classes. In fact, the American Council on Education, as restated on Do Something, says that “53% of 4th graders admitted to reading recreationally ‘almost every day,’ while only 20% of 8th graders could say the same.”

Think about that. Just over half of young readers read for fun, while just four short years later the numbers drop over 25%. What would cause something like that?

It could be that the school systems become harder, kids growing up just have less of an interest because it’s “not cool,” or some other factor that prevents them from reading.

According to the Literacy Project Foundation, “Illiteracy has become such a serious problem in our country [the United States] that 44 million adults are now unable to read a simple story to their children.” I would be so sad if I couldn’t read to my child when I have one. Stories bring to life so many adventures and create vivid imaginations that can take many children to places they’ve never been – especially in their playtime.

Reading not only brings up literacy and allows children to succeed well into their adult years, including, but not limited to, higher education, attaining a career, and keeping out of jail. Yes, jail. It’s a scary fact (see sources linked above), but it’s true that having the ability to read above a certain level can actually help to enhance a child’s future rather than hinder it.

If you live in the United States (and other places in the world), we have this wonderful place called the library. Many larger cities have their own, as well as many schools, and so allowing children to take advantage of reading free books (so long as they have a library card and no late fees to pay off) is well worth the trade off of having a child who is happy from reading. For a list of public libraries by state, check out this link.

When picking out a book for a child, or allowing them to choose on their own, simply think of their interests: do they like animals? Superheroes? Trains? There are so many wide varieties of books to choose from that they will never be bored of it. I know that, personally, when I walked into Barnes & Noble or my local library at a young age and gravitated toward the children’s section, I was always swept away at the amazing amounts of books and the many, many different kinds I could choose from. I personally enjoyed puzzle books and animal books, but your child may enjoy books like Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, or any other kind of book.

For young readers under the age of eight, I recommend books like Stellaluna, Verdi, and Eloise.

For young readers age eight to thirteen, I recommend books like Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, and really anything from this list.

But reading doesn’t have to be limited to those kinds of books. Let a child dip their toes into some more mature reads (obviously not too mature, depending on their age) and see if they can handle the language and structure. It can be a challenge, but sometimes that’s just what they need.

So what do you think about the importance of reading for a child? Do you think it’s worth it to have someone who enjoys having a big imagination, a broader vocabulary, and a sense of adventure? Sure, reading doesn’t necessarily mean all these things will happen (except the broader vocabulary part), but it still does allow them to find more dreams in the world than what may seem to be out there. We all know reality can be a harsh place to live in, so why not allow them to dream for just a little bit longer?

Do you think it’s important for kids to read? What would you recommend to a child under the age of 12? Do you remember what you read as a kid? Let me know in the comments!

Movie Adaptations of Books

We’ve all seen and heard of book to movie adaptations, such as Twilight, Divergent, The Great Gatsby, Life of Pi, etc. The list goes on and on.

But what is it about book to movie adaptations that make them so much worse (generally, not always) than the books themselves? And in retrospect, what makes some movies better than the books themselves?

As an avid reader and book lover, I must say that when I first read a book, and I love it, and then hear about a movie adaptation coming out of it, I have high expectations. There’s nothing that upsets me more than a bad book to movie adaptation.

Let me take a second to talk about one adaptation that really ticked me off: Blood & Chocolate. I first read this book about werewolves in middle school and loved it. It was dark, humorous, adventurous, and more. When I heard that a movie was coming out of it, of course I had to see it.

And I was severely disappointed.

The age of the characters was wrong, the plot was completely different, the acting was just bad, any form of CG was low quality at best, and it was just an overall horrible book to movie adaptation.

It kind of puts a damper on movies when you think about it because so many movies nowadays are based off of books. When the Harry Potter series first came to the big screen, many people were unsure if it was going to live up to the expectations that had been set so high by the fan base. Luckily the movies did well in representing the books (so I hear as I’ve only read the first two books thus far, but have seen all the movies). It seems to be a rare occurrence to have a decent, let alone true, adaptation.

What I think the movies lose is the sense of who the characters really are from the books when they’re being written for the screen or are spoken by a certain actor, or that there isn’t enough budget to make the world look believable, or there’s just some element missing that makes the movie that much worse than the book itself. This isn’t always the case, and there will always be some flaws in every adaptation, but that isn’t to say there aren’t some good ones out there.

The best adaptation I’ve seen recently was The Fault in Our Stars. Every line of the book and every scene from the book took place in the movie, minus one scene that was changed from what was in the book. Obviously some parts were snipped out due to time restraints and budget, but it was the most faithful book to movie adaptation I’ve seen in a long, long time.

And then there are some movies that are actually better than the books. These seem to be few and far in between, but they do exist somewhere out there!

Though adaptations can be a controversial subject as to quality on each medium, the fact of the matter is how you view each and your own opinions on them.

Let me know your thoughts and opinions on everything discussed in the comments!

Manga – A Growing Trend

It’s no surprise that so many people have become attached to many fictional characters in manga. Not only can they see the character in picture form, but they get a much deeper sense of who they are, their actions, how they react in different situations, etc.

Today, there are many different types of conventions (“cons” for short) that people get the opportunities to dress up (cosplay) as their favorite characters to the best of their abilities, as well as what their wallets will allow. Some cons are Anime Boston, Comic Con, Anime Expo, and more, including outside of the U.S.

There are many genres in manga, just as their are in regular books: romance, sci-fi, ecchi, harem, paranormal, horror, school life, shoujo/shonen-ai (girl/girl love; boy/boy love), and more. Some manga (most, really) are series that can stretch on for over 40 volumes, and then there are some that span just one or two volumes.

Why is it so big? The characters, the art style, the stories, all come together to create something that is visually stimulating for a lot of people, where regular word books just don’t cut it. Not only that, but many manga get turned into anime (think Pokemon), which bring those characters to life on screen in 2-D animation.

It’s been a growing trend in the U.S. for over twenty to thirty years, especially with series such as Dragonball Z, Sailor Moon, Gundam, Naruto, and Bleach, to name a few. Each series produces characters that kids and adults alike feel connected to and want to learn more about them while enjoying the fun, dramatic, scary, and weird antics that they get themselves into.

Some of my personal favorite manga are Fushigi Yuugi, Ayashi no Ceres, Hot Gimmick, Ouran Host Club, Kaichou wa Maid-sama!, Kashimashi, and others.

To read some manga online, check out MangaFox or Manga Reader, or any free site, to see some great books.

Have you read manga? What are some of your favorites? Let me know in the comments!

Make Good Art

I wanted to take a moment to write about Neil Gaiman’s “Make Good Art” speech at the University of Arts, Philadelphia in 2012.

I’ve heard this speech before, probably when it first came out, or maybe in a classroom, but I didn’t really get it then. I mean, I understood what he was saying, but I didn’t fully grasp the concept that Gaiman was talking about.

As I listened to the speech again, I realized something: everything he said is true.

As someone who recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science in English Studies, my options for jobs in my field are limited. Many jobs, in many fields, require you to have previous experience before you can get experience, or they require something else of you before you can really start. It’s a tough world right now for certain degree majors, but it’s not impossible.

Gaiman’s speech was one to inspire, for sure, but it hit something within me that rings truest of all: Make. Good. Art.

It doesn’t matter if the work doesn’t get published or never leaves home, it doesn’t matter if you make money or not from what you do, but what does matter is that you make it and that you enjoy it.

Reflecting back on my college career I went through three majors before landing on English: biology, earth science, pre-major (no major), and then English. I was thinking of going into education to have a more solid foundation for which I could lay my work, but I didn’t want to be in school the rest of my life, so I went for the next best thing, something I knew I was really good at: English.

I love to write; I have since I was a child and since I started writing stories as part of classroom assignments or for fun. I once wrote over 100 pages on the computer when I was just eleven or twelve, something that many people may not even fathom to do when they’re twenty or thirty. I was immersed in story and I had such a vivid imagination that it always came naturally to me.

But I still wanted to be a veterinarian. I still wanted to study dinosaurs. Don’t get me wrong, those pursuits are amazing and if I had had the ambition and drive to continue my studies, I would have, but as someone who struggles majorly in math (minus a few select subjects), I couldn’t do it. I was constantly disappointed in myself, and I knew my parents were, too, even if they didn’t want to admit it.

When I started pursuing English Studies with a focus on Professional Writing, and then later adding Art as my minor, I knew that it should have been my first choice going into college. I had found the passion that had been dormant for so long in me spark once again, I found the will and drive to be creative again. When it came to my writing classes (not the ones that focused on literature) I told stories that moved, confused, astounded, and amazed my fellow peers and professors.

I had found where I belonged.

Now, as a graduate, that passion is dwindling yet again. I started writing my first novel, just two sections of it: the end and a middle-to-end section, but two sections nonetheless. I have ideas written down of several other novels and I realized something: I have so many passions, but I am so afraid of what might happen, or not happen, next.

I am worried about helping to support my fiance and I as we come closer to our marriage date and his return to school, I am worried about not being able to find a job in my field that I will enjoy, I am afraid of the future, of what’s to come. I am just afraid.

But listening to Neil Gaiman’s speech sparked something in me that I should have never let go of: just keep writing.

I have put this blog on the back burner because life keeps happening, and I don’t want to do that because I enjoy seeing people actually enjoying my voice and opinions. I have stopped writing because I am afraid and worried that I won’t get anything published eventually or, even more presently, unable to finish a single story. I have put what I love on hold because of “life.”

Well, life can suck it.

I love to write, I love to read, I love to be creative to the point where I am more passionate about it than anything in the world.

So why not just keep making good art?

Monthly Writing Challenge – August

Yeah, I know I’ve missed a couple of these, but I still have a little while left before it’s midnight my time (EST)!

It’s the last month of summer break and you have just a few weeks left before school starts. You can already feel the anticipation growing inside of you and you have no idea if it’s dread or excitement. But you don’t focus on that, rather you focus on the fact that you can still make it the best month possible before school starts up again.

What do you do for the first and last weeks of school break? Do you hang out with friends? Go to the beach? Find summer romance?

Respond to the prompt in no less than 150 words and keep it rated PG-13 or under.

Blogging vs Vlogging

We all know what blogging is – heck, what is it that I’m doing right here?

But what about vlogging? Have you heard the term before? Essentially it’s blogging but in video form. Some vlogs are really short, just the span of a minute or a few, or really long, over fifteen minutes.

Blogging holds a special place in many people’s hearts because of the fact that it’s been around for so long and they might be bloggers themselves.

Vlogging is relatively new, especially in the last few years since YouTube came into being. Many people vlog about whatever is their heart’s desire, just like blogging. Some vlog about health and fitness, others vlog about books, while others vlog about personal daily lives. It really all depends on the individual.

A great example of a popular vlog community is the vlogbrothers, which the two main “hosts” of the vlog are author John Green and his brother, Hank. They post funny, witty, serious, historical, interesting videos and call their community audience “nerdfighters.” They’re engaging and oftentimes positive, making them successful at vlogging.

Blogging, on the other hand, is more about the written word and how you can grab people’s attention through that. Blogging, like vlogging, can come in many forms from informational, to fun, to personal, and beyond.

I personally have two active blogs, this one and a new one I just started after I began book vlogging called Reader Rayna. I find it to be a great way to get my own personal thoughts and opinions on something that I’m passionate about out there, plus it’s much easier for me to get my words out in writing than verbally.

So, here are some pros and cons to vlogging:

  • Pro: You’re able to be more interactive and silly on camera if you choose to be.
  • Con: Some people might not understand your humor.
  • Pro: You can talk about whatever you please as long as it’s within YouTube’s ToS guidelines.
  • Con: Some people might not appreciate what you have to say, therefore “disliking” your video or saying hurtful/mean things in the comments.
  • Pro: Many people are doing it, so it’s always good to be able to do some research and get ideas for how you want to run your own vlog.
  • Con: Plagiarism can still happen via camera, so you have to make sure you really make your vlogs your own.

And here are some pros and cons about blogging:

  • Pro: You’re able to get your thoughts and opinions out to a large audience, like vlogging.
  • Con: Some people might not be interested because your topic might be too similar to others, or yours might not have the same “spark” as other blogs.
  • Pro: Many people are doing it, so you can always do some research and get ideas for how you want to run your own blog.
  • Con: Plagiarism can happen, so you have to be careful of what you put out there.

The lists can go on and on, but those are some of the major pros and cons for both blogging and vlogging. It really all depends on how you want to reach your audience and how you want to express yourself, whether that be through words, camera, or both. Take the time to consider each and do some research ahead of time to see which would be better suited for you.

Here’s the link to my own vlog: Reader Rayna vlog

 

What about you? Do you have a personal preference as to how you blog/vlog? Which do you prefer and recommend? Let me know in the comments!