Monday, March 10, 2008


What! You haven't heard about Nanowrimo yet?? The acronym stands for "National Novel Writing Month", which basically means a bunch of crazy folk from around world try to write a 50,000 word novel, all within the month of November. That's right, 50k in 30days.
I was living in England when I vaguely heard about it from a few friends. Yeah, I thought they were crazy. They seemed to have fun though, and when the next November came, I figured, hey, why not? I was one of those people who used to think that one of these days I would write a novel. I've had an idea in my head for a good one since I was a kid (ok, so I haven't written that one yet, I'm thinking of saving it for Nanowrimo 2009?). It was a not so great time in my life, I needed something to cheer me up. So I signed up in 2006.
Now, writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days requires a fair bit of sacrifice. Not like I had a time consuming full-time job or anything that year (or a full college course load and two part-time jobs the next year!). Never underestimate the power of spending the weekend in your pajamas with a laptop on your lap! I did finish in 2006, that was the year I wrote a terrible, theraputic novel with too much dialogue and not enough description. I finished in 2007 too, and that year I wrote another terrible novel with too many characters and not enough description. The point however, is quantity, not quality!!
In 2007 I also participated in the online community surrounding this event. I visited the forum, went to the local kick off party, met a few people. It was fun. Next year I plan on having my own laptop, and maybe make it to a few write ins. Participating in local events only adds to the excitement.
And the challenge! I'm always up for a good challenge! There's nothing like a deadline and a bit of pressure to get those creative juices flowing! And the euphoria of finishing, the sense of accomplishment! Amazing! It is tough though. The people online are really supportive, and there's loads of tips around for getting you through the month. One of the organizers has written a great book to help get you started. I highly recommend it! What do you do with your finished (hopefully) novel? A few people have actually got them published for real. Some of us less fortunate authors just submit them to a vanity press, like lulu. There's nothing like a new, shiny book that is all your own, sitting on the shelf. Fantastic! So next November, you know what to do, just visit the Nanowrimo home page and sign up!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Book Challenges

A few months ago I came across this blog:

I had also just returned to Canada after living in England for four years and was all gung-ho about appreciating and showing Canadian pride and all that. Also, I'd just quit my teaching career, and even though I'm back in college and work two part-time jobs, I had just gotten back into recreational reading. I've always been a reader (heck, I'm going to school to get my library technician diploma!) but had to put books on the backburner while I stressed myself into an ulcer as a teacher. So now that I was enjoying (no, devouring) books, I figured why not? I'm also a greedy blogger (I have three in case you haven't noticed) and am always up for a challenge (I must do a Nanowrimo post one of these days...). Book challenges seemed to be pretty easy: read, blog, repeat. That I can do!

I started up Rant-A-Book, and suckered a few friends into racing to the end of the Canadian Book Challenge (13 books by Canadian authors by Canada Day, July 1st). I am totally enjoying the challenge! It's nice to have some extra motivation to get some reading done, not like I have enough to do lately (college, 2 jobs, remember?!). Plus snooping around and commenting on other like minded people's blogs is a fantastic time waster! And this was just the beginning. Who knew there was a whole 'novel challenge' subculture out there, lurking on the blog scene?

I dug a little further and found A Novel Challenge. This great blog archives many of the blog book challenges out there, and is a great resource, because if you're like me, you can't stop at just one. I'm currently doing this challenge too:

(Though I'll admit right now, I'm not enjoying the graphic novels quite as much as 'regular books', but I do feel kinda hip and cool reading them!)

So, what are you waiting for? Find a challenge you like, start up (or ressurect?) a blog and get going. Oh, and if you want in on the Canadian Book Challenge race, just let me know...

**Update** May 24, 2008

We've stopped the Canadian Book Challenge. I finished up the 13 books (by the end of April) but the other two stalled at 2. It was fun while it lasted. I'm getting rid of my book blog because I've signed up to Librarything which is similar, but different. It's a great way to catalogue the books you own and keep track of the books you've read. So while the blog was fun for a bit, the novelty has worn off and it's being retired. However, if you'd like to challenge me to a reading challenge nonetheless, you know where to find me...