Back in April, I tried Camp Nanowrimo. I figured, why not? I tried Nanowrimo this past November, as I have in a few previous Novembers. I think 2012 was the first time. I knocked out a few scenes, maybe 4000 words, but that was it. I quickly learned I am not a “pantser” — someone who writes by the seat of their pants with no plan.
I’ve tried Nanowrimo a couple of times since, mostly just to frustrate myself, and remind myself that the Nanowrimo style just isn’t for me.
And I just realized some of you may not know what I’m talking about. Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month. The challenge is to pace yourself, write every day, and churn out a 50,000-word first draft of your novel. Come up short on the daily world goal? Just make up for it the next day. Miss today? Double up the next day. It sounds simple. Deceivingly simple. I would get off to a strong start for a few days, then miss a day. Knockout another day, then miss a few more. From there, it would snow ball.
Camp Nanowrimo happens in April, and you can design your own challenge. Basically, choosing your own word counts. They also have “cabins,” where you get matched up with other writers to encourage and assist. I never got to that part.
I did set a modest goal of 10,000 words, but rather than write one piece, I would set mini goals. Four blog posts, journaling, a short short fiction, and maybe even start a short story. My main problem with the Nanowrimo format is I am a lousy typist. I prefer to write free hand, and then dictate into Scrivener. Then I get all analytical with myself, thinking I’m using the same words twice, wasting time I could be using to write more free hand. Dictating is much faster than me trying to type, and I tend to self-edit less while trying to get a first draft. Still, I feel like I’m repeating my work rather than moving on. Then I get frustrated and stop.
I didn’t do too bad in April. I got 2 of the 4 blog posts posted. I did start the short short fiction. I journaled a lot, which may have eaten up a good portion of the word count, but I don’t know because I never dictated the journals to get a word count. In the end, it was no big deal, since I only updated my word count twice.
And I left something out.
I started talking to myself as I write free hand. And it tends to get dictated.
I forgot about the book review.
Another one of my mini goals was to write a book review and post it on Amazon and Goodreads. That was supposed to be the point of this whole post, and I’m getting there, I promise.
During all my trials with Nanowrimo, I found out I need to do some planning ahead for my writing. I tried a few different websites for help, and finally stumbled upon “Helping Writers Become Authors” The site is run by K. M. Weiland, and her style of explaining all the different facets of writing just seems to click for me. After a while reading her blog posts, I gave one of her structural books a try. And then another. Pretty soon, I had started a new project, which is coming along in bursts in spurts. I need to work on consistency and making time for writing.
I decided to read one of Katie’s fiction books to see if I could pick out the points she was making in her blog posts and instructional books.
I did fairly well with that, but that wasn’t the point either.
Several of the authors I follow on Twitter, especially William F. Aicher, have mentioned ideas about how to support authors.
I’m becoming quite the name dropper in this post.
At least that’s what I told LeBron the other day.
One of the big ideas mentioned, outside of buying books, was to write reviews of books you have read.
At first, I retreated to grade school and memories of the dreaded book report.
What was the point of that, Teach? Why didn’t you just read the damn book yourself if you wanted to know about it so much?
Somewhere in the Twitterverse, it was mentioned that just a few lines about why you like the book should suffice.
That made sense to me. Why write a novel to review a novel?
I’m practical like that.
So, I wrote a review about “Dreamlander,” by K. M. Weiland.
And he finally makes his point…
The title reminded me of one of my favorite 80s movies, “The Highlander,” and the feel of the novel did not disappoint. Weiland weaves tale of “The Gifted” Chris Redston’s adventure in Chicago, and in the dreamland of Lael. Both settings are brought to life, and both settings have skin in the game, but Lael is just “so much better.”
The trio of The Gifted, The Searcher, and The Keeper provide a set of relationships that constantly change, affecting each other as well as the splendid supporting cast around them.
Make sure you have plenty of time set aside for when the Battle of Lael starts, because you won’t be able to stop reading.
I know. There is a hell of a lot of post here for a book review just over 100 words long.
This review was my first, so why not play it up a bit.
Sure, I stuck to why I liked “Dreamlander.” I question some parts at first, like certain objects from Chicago ending up in Lael. After getting farther in the story, I saw why certain choices were made, and they made sense. And I’m being vague because I don’t want to give away any spoilers. And that’s another good reason to stick to just a few lines about why you like book — I don’t babble on long enough to give away the story.
As opposed to all the babbling I’ve done here.
I’m usually more of a science fiction guy, but I do like a good fantasy story every now and then. That’s what’s “Dreamlander” is — a good fantasy story — and I suggest you go read it.
And yes, recommending a book to others is another suggestion to help support authors.