What is NaNoWriMo?
NaNoWriMo is a movement beloved and participated in by thousands of writers annually. Every November authors prep to start writing like mad Nov. 1st through the 30th with the quest of reaching 50k words. That is roughly 1,600 and change words a day. It is a lofty but possible goal to strive for. To find out more about NaNo and to sign up see here.
Why should you do it?
It is motivational, sets up a schedule in your life that makes writing a daily habit, and you feel accomplished and part of something. Authors cheer others on, you report your daily progress to get yourself motivated, and you get a lot done. Will you make it to 50k? Does that even matter? Any progress towards finishing your manuscript is a win.
What about my day job?
I'm a college English Lecturer, so each November, I get a stack of 80 research papers to grade. I never made the word count amount after I starting teaching, but NaNoWriMo makes me motivated enough to pound out a lot of word count prior to this grading avalanche. Basically, I get 3 weeks instead of 4 and mange to get anywhere from 30-35k written. So yeah, the day job might prevent you from reaching the goal, but anything you've gotten down is a success. Without this motivation, I probably would only get about 15k completed. And now NaNoWriMo also does a summer "camp" version in the summer so I rocked 50k then.
My weigh in?
Try it no matter what. You don't have to register on their site or announce it, but test yourself. You might just see you're capable of writing more than you thought you could. You'll get things done and maybe write more than you ever have in one month before. You might just alter your lifestyle to fit writing in even more, and gain the confidence to finish your manuscript. It can't hurt, so give it a go.
I've had requests from the #writingcommunity about editing. New authors sometimes aren't sure where to start or how to go about it. It's extremely intimidating to look at the entire finished book at once, so having a process to edit helps us see it in smaller, more manageable pieces. I'm going to give you two perspectives: one from a writing instructor's point-of-view--basically what I teach my students for all types of writing--and then from an author's point-of-view--meaning the exact steps I've taken with two different publishers.
Revision-- the focus is on global issues, meaning you look at the ideas, organization, content. The key is to NOT look at grammar or sentence structures.
Edit--here's when you look at sentence structures, the flow, fixing word choices and grammar, polishing it up. The trick is to read it aloud to hear problems.
Copyedit--this is when you hyperfocus on grammar, format, word choices trying to find any remaining mistakes. The key is to print it out so you can correct it like a teacher--you see things differently when switching mediums.
As you see, this starts global, looking at it as a whole, then works to narrowing the focus. If you try to do it all (and are not an editor or teacher), it can be extremely overwhelming.
With publishers, I've had three similar levels called different things but in a sense have the same concepts:
Developmental--they look for important content issues, such as plot holes, and discrepancies in timelines, long lulls, info-dropping, character motivation, consistency, and arcs, etc. This is much like the revision process in that it seeks to fix global issues.
Line edits--this is focusing on word choices, grammar, cohesion what you think of when it comes to an editor trying to fix everything in your work. It is pretty much the same as educational editing, but it is very focused, looking for everything.
Copy edits--this is another round of looking for grammar, typos, but also formatting, spacing, every little detail of how it looks on the page. Usually, the publisher will have a proof copy to read through. seeing it in print, in the novel makes it easier to see errors. Sometimes this is considered a fourth step, proofing.
This looks a global and specific issues, but I notice editors tend to do it more organically, mixing these steps together at times--particularly if they don't have too much to note developmentally, they'll get ahead. The idea is roughly the same in the end.
So how much do you edit? That is up to you. I'm an English professor who teaches grammar and yet I make a ton of errors in a rough draft. I also am a pantser and find that I write faster than plotters, but must revise more for those plot holes I create. Usually, I revise twice, then edit once, send it to a couple betas, edit, copyedit, and then submit. My publisher then does the above steps developmental, line, and copy edits/proofing. That's a minimum of eight rounds of editing after the initial rough draft. The thing I notice most when books are not professionally edited is not just grammatical mistakes, but also more global--long lulls, strange character behaviors or forced motivations, time incongruity, info-dumping, and more. It cannot hurt an author to seek professional advice and can help them see issues easily overlooked.
The takeaway? Do all three rounds as much as needed before querying. Breaking it up in 3 stages makes it less daunting. Know when to let go, when to seek help, and always have some kind of pro help you. No matter how good of a writer you are, you cannot catch all your mistakes or be unbiased. Professional editors even have editors look over their work
Julian Michael Carver
It's the first day of fourth-grade for twins Andy and Anna. Andy is a shy boy obsessed with dinosaurs and Anna is an adventurous girl willing to take risks. One day when they step off the school bus, Anna suggests taking a shortcut through a dark alley to get home.
As they navigate through the abandoned alley, they find a mysterious large egg tucked under a bush. They take it home and try to hatch it, careful not to tell their parents who are strict about pets. After building a makeshift nest in the attic, the egg hatches into a friendly baby velociraptor, whom they later name Tennyson, due to his infatuation with destroying tennis balls.
Now they must convince their parents to keep the little dinosaur, while overcoming bad grades and the school bully.
When the Saunders go camping in the Pennsylvanian wilderness, Mr. Saunders tells the kids a scary story about a legendary creature named Fatfoot, who lives in the forest nearby. At first, the children don't believe the strange tale, until things begin to go bump in the night. It's up to Andy, Anna, and everyone's favorite raptor, Tennyson, to investigate the legend themselves.
The Man Himself
Julian Michael Carver (born Joey Kelly) is a novelist specializing in the lost world sub genre of science fiction.
Carver grew up loving dinosaurs, and aims to bring them back into the literature spotlight.
In 2013, Carver graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, with a bachelor's degree in Visual Effects and Motion Graphics. Since college graduation, Carver has worked full time in the world of commercial advertising.
He uses his skills in filmmaking, motion graphics, and animation to market and develop his works of literature. Currently, he is writing and developing a children's chapter book series, The Backpack Dinosaur, and plans to release the series through his publishing imprint Pteranodon Press.
The Man with A Plan
I asked Carver what was next for him, and he responded with, "My next steps are to continue writing The Backpack Dinosaur stores, giving kids a safe and fun form of chapter books. I have plans for at least ten stories in The Backpack Dinosaur. Additionally, I have one novel Triassic, currently under consideration from a major publisher as well as a short story that I've submitted for an anthology. I want to keep focusing all of my fictional work towards dinosaurs or prehistoric themes, and become known as the 'dinosaur writer'."
Where it all Comes From
When asked about his inspiration for the series, Carver said, "My inspiration for the series came from my love of dinosaurs in my childhood. I love Jurassic Park and The Lost World. Additionally, the book style came from Goosebumps, The Bailey School Kids, A to Z Mysteries, and other popular children's chapter books from the 1990's. I felt as if children's chapter books never really touched on dinosaurs, so I figured I'd come up with a concept because it's something I could go on and on about."
All authors want to know the magical question of what works the best for marketing. Carver shared his wisdom: "As far as marketing strategies go, the least effective is probably cold-emailing bookstores or librarians. Usually there are no replies, but sometimes you will get someone who wants to buy a copy. The best strategy for me is to create commercials and run them through YouTube as ads. I work full-time as a commercial editor, so I can write the script, animate the spot, and upload/render it like second nature. I think this gives me an edge over a lot of other writers and I want to try my best to keep that going. I am toying with the idea of also submitting the spot to a movie theater and seeing how it works running the ad on the big screen."
Wow, the "dinosaur writer" has a lot going on and an amazing marketing strategy. I'll be posting a review of book 1 after I get my son's help. He is a fan, for sure. Let's support fellow authors by sharing, following, and uplifting each other. You can find Carver through the following links:
NA Book Review:
(The Crescent Chronicles)
Although Flight had a great premise and interesting characters, it did not take flight due to one fatal flaw: the "hero." This is not a book for any female who believes in gender equality. Warning, Spoilers!
Allie decides a summer working at her father's hotel is exactly what she needs before she goes to college. With her entire life mapped out for her by her parents, she's feeling a tad rebellious. After breaking up with her boyfriend who can't seem to grasp it is over, Allie swears off guys which doesn't last when she feels a deep attraction to the arrogant and mysterious Levi. Soon she finds herself immersed in a supernatural world that makes her feel truly alive, but being with Levi might just ruin her life or even get her killed.
Overall, it is worth the read for some audiences, but I will not be continuing the series due to some issues such as characterization of the hero, disjointed scenes and plots, and negative messages to females.
There were some plot issues. There are a lot of scenes in the book that are just characters talking that to do not tie in well to the central plot. This confused me. It felt contrived. Like her friend has a one-night-stand to lose her virginity and leaves, only so Allie would suddenly be alone. Her mother comes down for one day (because we all fly two hours and then leave) just to tell her she suddenly had a boyfriend who was moving in--so Allie would have no home to return to. It felt like random things to simply have the character be alone. Some things were never explained. Now, I've never been to New Orleans. I've heard the drinking age is 18 if a PARENT is with you. The fact Allie is drinking everywhere she goes at that age and no one questions or cards her seemed weird. Perhaps laws are slack in the city. In that case, as an 18-year-old from up north, she would be worried about it or marvel over this new freedom. There were many excuses the author could've made to explain it, but it was ignored.
This leads me to negative messages. I'm not going to bash the underage drinking; this is a New Adult novel. What I will bash is the girls' behavior around strange men. They are too trusting, allow strangers to buy and handle their drinks, walk away from their drinks, etc. I completely thought date rape was going to be a plot-point and thankful it wasn't. Girls! Watch your drinks at bars, please!
Some readers do love a domineering hero, so this book is for those readers only, not feminists. On the surface, Levi is attractive and has a devil-may-care quality. His witty remarks seem like a sexy flirtation until it keeps occurring after they're together and you just want Allie to punch him in the face. Underneath the surface, his actions prove he is arrogant, spoiled, and selfish. He is controlling and refuses to tell Allie anything, hiding things, and lies to her. Then when things are going well--even though she needs to leave town soon--he completely ruins Allie's life, stealing away all her options and putting a target on her head. She is stuck with him and in New Orleans forever. She doesn't accept his behavior, but you get the vibe she'll forgive him in the next book, since she loves the city and is attracted to him still. The message I'm getting is controlling, domineering men who strip you of your rights, autonomy, and your future are dreamy, as long as they love you.
Now, there are positives if you can get passed all of this. The premise is kind of cool and the supernatural being Levi is was creative. If the ending had been different, I would have less qualms with this book. Perhaps he redeems himself and changes throughout the series and I'm judging too quickly? I did like the rest of the characters including Allie who struggles with a mapped out life that rubs against her real needs; she is strong deep down, but it never rises to the surface because she is young and unsure. It all makes sense that she would go from controlling parents to a controlling boyfriend, but I wanted better for her. Also, the sexuality was tantalizing, not graphic, and well done.
If you prefer the domineering and controlling type of hero in your romance and don't consider yourself a feminist, you will probably enjoy Flight. It just wasn't for me but might be for you.
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