Sunday, November 30, 2014

What I'm Taking from NaNoWriMo into December

After 50000 words, the 50001th is anticlimactic. It was probably an ‘and’ or ‘the’, maybe something fancy like ‘tree’ or ‘unicorn.’ In the end, I don’t know exactly which word it was, because that word is unimportant. NaNoWriMo may have a goal about writing 50000 words, but it’s not about any particular word, it’s about what they mean together. It’s about what 50000 words make together. For me, 50175 words make the better part (as I'm not quite finished) of a first draft of a novel.

This is the third time I’ve won NaNoWriMo, and I’ve written about lessons I’ve learned and how I've won. I’ve written about my struggle to commit, the muddy middle and about being a pantser. I even wrote a NaNoWriMo pep talk just last week, but I’ve never written about the future.

After writing 50175 words in November (probably more because I plan on adding some today), I take three important things into December and 2015 with me: A nearly finished first draft, momentum and a sense of accomplishment. To complete the first draft before the end of the year, I need to keep up my current momentum. I’ll celebrate my accomplishment, but I’ll also remember that the hard work (editing) has yet to begin.

Please note: what I’m taking into December with me has nothing to do with word count. Seems crazy, but it's true! Maybe you didn’t make it to 50000 words this year, which is absolutely fine, because in the end, you can still have all those things I mentioned above. You still have the workings of a first draft as no matter if it’s 25000 words or 40000 words, it’s a beginning that you didn’t have before. You still have the momentum of November, pushing you forward. And, I truly believe that you should feel accomplished for committing to NaNoWriMo, writing however many words you wrote and moving forward with that.

NaNoWriMo novels might be drafted in November, but they’re edited in December and beyond. For me, I plan on finishing my draft in December and dive into editing in the New Year. No matter how many words you wrote in November, it was more than you had at the beginning and therefore I share my congratulations with you.
*raises mug* Congratulations and Happy December!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Pep Talk from Jamie Mitchell

I know what you’re thinking, and trust me, I’m thinking the same thing. Why would you read my pep talk? You don’t know who I am.

Not when you can read pep talks by greats. Veronica Roth and Tamora Pierce have written pep talks for this year’s NaNoWriMo participates. Other famous authors and bloggers have written them this year and in the past. And you read them because they’ve made it. Brandon Sanderson has made it. Rainbow Rowell, Scott Westerfeld, Marissa Meyer—they’ve all made it.

I haven’t made it. I’m a relative nobody in the publishing world. I’m writing this NaNoWriMo pep talk expecting very few people to see it, because I haven’t made it as a writer. I am a writer, yes, but I’m not famous. I haven’t even written a book that’s agent-ready, let alone editor or publisher-ready. All I have under my belt is a few full drafts that are products of NaNoWriMo madness.

By now you’re thinking, this isn’t much of a pep talk. Give me another paragraph or three.

Yes, I may be a nobody in the publishing world. My blog has decent pageviews but doesn’t have many followers. I don’t have an agent, let alone a publisher.

But I’m still writing.

I’m not writing with the goal to be Rainbow or Veronica or anyone else that already has a name in publishing. I’m writing to be me. I’m writing to see MY name in print. That’s what I want. I want to be able to write a book (ideally a great one) that snags an agent and an editor and a publisher and then the GOAL—the absolute goal, which if it happens, I will likely bawl and take a millions pictures acting like a crazy person in the YA aisle of the bookstore—is to have MY book on the shelf.

I admit it'd be nice if my book sold well. I’d throw a happy dance party if it made it to the NYT bestsellers list. I’d love to be able to write full-time. And I still hold these dreams close to my heart. But even if no one reads my book except my mom and boyfriend (though I admit I’ll be sad if that’s the case), I’ll know I accomplished writing a book and getting it published.

So when you write, don’t write to be the next big name. Don’t write to be the next Gillian Flynn or Rick Riordan or whomever it is that you idolize. Write because you want to write. Write because the story is pouring out of you like a waterfall, glinting in the sunlight and thundering in your ears. Write because you have a story to tell and it needs to be on paper even if it doesn’t vault you to author celebrity. Write even if you become the Van Gogh of the publisher world. Write even if no one reads it, not even your mother.

Write for you.

Now, stop reading this, and write.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Teen Books-to-Movies 2015

It’s almost time for Mockingjay – Part One!!! I’m unbelievably excited, but this post isn’t about my JLaw obsession. It’s about a few upcoming movies based on YA books, which is really becoming a thing (which I’m happy about of course!) The Divergent and Maze Runner adaptations did well in theaters. The Fault in Our Stars movie did outstanding, and of course the Hunger Games movie adaptations can’t be stopped. Here’s the next batch of YA books to movies, some that will surely be hits and some that might, however unfortunate, prove to be misses.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part One
Release Date: SOON! Less than a week! I’m so excited! (BTW, that’s November 21.)

In District 13 after she literally shatters the games forever, Katniss Everdeen works to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends.

Why I’m Excited: Because the Catching Fire movie cliffhanger was amazing! Peeta’s in the grasp of President Snow and Katniss is in District 13 and I need to know what happens next! Even though I do know, of course, but I want to see what happens next. I have to admit I’m nervous about the cliffhanger that’s surely coming at the end of Mockingjay Part One. Actually, Emma Stone made me nervous about it long ago…

"I feel like if Mockingjay is split into two movies, they’ll end the first one at Katniss and Peeta’s reunion. Like it’ll show him ring her neck and Boggs punch him and then boom credits and we’re all just sitting there like this." -Emma Stone on Hunger Games

Release Date: March 20, 2015                Status: Post-production

Beatrice Prior must confront her inner demons and continue her fight against a powerful alliance which threatens to tear her society apart.

Why I’m Excited: Because Insurgent was my favorite book in the Divergent series and I’m eager to see how they adapt it to the big screen! Though I am skeptical about Tris with short blondish hair, the first teaser trailer’s pretty cool.


Release Date: 2015                               Status: Post-Production

A young girl finds herself in a reform school after therapy since she was blamed for the death of a young boy. At the school she finds herself drawn to a fellow student, unaware that he is an angel, and has loved her for thousands of years.

Why I’m Excited: Because this is finally happening! This was one of the first books I read when I was getting back into YA five years ago. I didn’t think the movie was ever going to be made, then it looked like it was going to be a TV movie but now IMDB says it’s coming to theaters! Woot!

Also, ICYMI… Paper Towns is filming!


Also, two of my favorite YA books have been optioned! I’ll leave you with the awesome announcement:

Sunday, November 9, 2014

This year for NaNoWriMo, I’m a Pantser

I’m in the midst of my third NaNoWriMo experience. (Third!) This is the ninth day, and right now I'm on pace to finish on time. Achieving the daily word count has been relatively easy so far (did I just jinx myself? I hope not), but now that it’s closing in on the middle of the month, I’m waiting for that to change. (Remember this post on the muddy middle?
I committed to this NaNoWriMo with a concept I dreamt up two months ago. I had plenty of time to prepare an outline, write character and setting profiles and even a prologue before November 1st. However, life happened *cough* vacation *cough* and I didn’t get to it. In the days before NaNoWriMo, I had to make a decision. Should I use precious time at the beginning of November to work on and finalize an outline and profiles? Or should I try something different?

On a whim, I decided to try something different. I decided to become a pantser. Meaning I write by the seat of my pants with no outline, little preparation and only an idea of what I want the story to be and where I want it to go.

Honestly, the word pantser has always frightened me. I’m a plotter. I’m organized. I like outlines and extensive lists and detailed documents and notes on calendars. My boyfriend regularly calls me Monica from Friends for my organizational skills (and occasionally my clean freak nature). But truthfully, the plotter thing hasn’t been working for me lately. And last month, someone told me that using the method I'm not accustomed to can get me out of my comfort zone.

So I decided to try it. Armed with only a concept document (ten pages of random ideas and loose scenes), I dove into NaNoWriMo. Every day when I sit down to write, I let the characters lead the way with only a few gentle nudges on my part toward my vague idea of an end.

And I’m happy to report that being a pantser has been working for me. I’ve written 15000 words in eight days!

*raises half-full glass of orange juice* Here’s to being a pantser! May it continue to work for me.


Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you ever tried the one that’s outside your comfort zone? Did it work for you?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Six Star Reviews: A Thousand Pieces of You

The highest rating a book can get on Goodreads is five stars. Five stars means the book was awesome, worthy, well-written, etc. But sometimes I wish I could give six—YES 6—stars. These instances are rare, but there are some books that stand out that extra bit. They are truly unputdownable. They are not just great, but extraordinary. They speak to me, and I love them.

Here’s a book that deserves six stars:

A Thousand Pieces of You—Claudia Gray

Marguerite Caine grew up surrounded by cutting-edge scientific theories, thanks to her brilliant physicist parents. Yet nothing is more astounding than her mother's latest invention—a device called the Firebird, which allows people to leap into alternate dimensions. When Marguerite's father is murdered, all the evidence points to one person—Paul, her parents' enigmatic star student. Before the law can touch him, Paul escapes into another dimension, having committed what seems like the perfect crime. But he didn't count on Marguerite chasing him.

With the help of another physics student, Theo, Marguerite chases Paul through various dimensions and wildly different lives-- a grand duchess in a Tsarist Russia, a club-hopping orphan in a futuristic London, a refugee from worldwide flooding on a station in the heart of the ocean. In each new world Marguerite leaps to, she meets another version of Paul that has her doubting his guilt and questioning her heart. Is she doomed to repeat the same betrayal?

There are a thousand things I love about A Thousand Pieces of You. Seriously. And if I had a couple days to spare, I’d write a giant list! But I don’t because it’s NaNoWriMo time, so I’ll just share a few of the reasons why I love and devoured and couldn’t put down this book!

First of all, Marguerite! She’s got backbone! She’s smart and brave! She’s not genius-level like her parents, but that just makes her relatable. At the start of the novel, she’s reeling because Paul, a graduate student who works for her parents, killed her dad and she’d highly interested in revenge. However, Paul used the one and only Firebird to escape where no one could follow. So when another grad student, Theo, says he has a couple spare Firebirds, Marguerite jumps at the chance to chase Paul through the multiverses.

The concept of the novel, while complex, is well-explained in the beginning and goes a little something like this: The Firebird, an invention of Marguerite’s mom, allows a person to leap into alternate dimensions. However, Marguerite has to exist in that dimension to be able to travel there, as she takes over that person’s life temporarily. Interesting, right? And what makes it even more interesting is the alternate dimensions themselves. Some have progressed faster than our world, and therefore have better technologies (like when Marguerite travels to a futuristic London), some have progressed slower than our world (like when she travels to a Tsarist Russia) and some have just progressed differently (like when she travels to an underground station due to worldwide flooding).

The concept itself is killer. And then there’s the plot! I won’t say much, because it changes so quickly that even saying something from Marguerite’s first jump to futuristic London is a spoiler. One thing though: keep an eye out for hints. There are plenty tidbits that factor into the final twist, and it’s awesome to see them all come together. (Speaking of "Come Together", the Beatles don’t exist in some of the alternate dimensions, because they didn't meet!)

Also, Paul and Theo! Argggg I want to gush over one of them in particular but that would be a spoiler. So I’ll gush over both! Paul killed Marguerite’s dad, but we learn through flashbacks that he’s not a faceless killer. Since he was a grad student for Marguerite’s parents he spent a lot of time in their house and was practically family! Paul was brilliant, quiet and socially awkward, and we learn in the flashbacks that Marguerite had a connection with him. Theo is also one of Marguerite’s parents’ grad students, yet he’s a social butterfly and takes Paul under his wing so much so that they have a brotherly love going on. This dynamic makes things interesting as they travel through the multiverses.

A Thousand Pieces of You is everything. It’s mystery, fantasy and historical fiction. There’s suspense, love and enough twists to put a crick in your neck! It hits the shelves Tuesday, November 4, and I’ll be grabbing my copy that day! How could I not have a cover that lovely and a story that intriguing on my bookshelf?

A Thousand Pieces of You is a 6 out of 5 stars book, and I can’t wait to stroke its spine and smell its pages and wrap it (carefully) in my arms and squeeze it (gently) onto my bookshelf.

My recommendation: READ THIS BOOK. (Especially if you like gutsy females leads and/or intricate plots and/or ALL THE GENRES and/or the idea of fate.)