No, you can’t run out to the bookstore and buy it…yet. According to the inspiration gurus over at NaNoWriMo, authors who create a book cover to inspire them are 60% more likely to finish the 50,000 word challenge by the end of November. So…
Note: This image is strictly for inspiration purposes. One thing I discovered while putting this together is that I am definitely NOT a professional book cover designer. When this novel appears on Amazon, it will have a much, MUCH better cover. Still, this is a fun inspirational exercise that I highly recommend for anyone in need to a little positive writerly mojo.
During one of his PBS specials, Wayne Dyer said that he geared up to write a new book by calling his publisher’s design department and having them mock up the cover design before he started writing. Now, if you have Wayne Dyer’s mega sales figures, you probably have publishing design professionals willing to do this for you too. The rest of us have free resources like Canva and PhotoPin.
What do you think? Does this cover make you want to pick up/click on the book to read more? Or does it miss the mark entirely? Have you ever used an image to inspire your creativity?
Believe it or not, a Write In is exactly what it sounds like. A group of writers show up at a designated place and time with their laptop (or tablet or pencil & paper) to write. It’s not meant to be a discussion about the craft of writing. It’s not a workshop on how to get published. It’s not a critique group or a marketing session.
A NoNoWriMo Write In is all about massive word count production.
Yes and no. Some writers might show up, plug in earphones and say nothing to anyone for the full 2 hours. And that is OK. Some writers might want to interact more by calling out questions to the group such as “I need plot help, how can I get an elephant into a bathtub?” or “Do ninjas wear shoes?” or “Does anyone know how to turn off the auto-correct on my Word file?” And that is also OK.
The key most important thing is to write, write, write! And then write some more.
Well, there will be a very brief round of introductions at the start. If enough folks are interested, we may have word sprints where we set a timer for 5-10 minutes and write as fast as possible to see who has the most words when the timer goes off. I may throw out kooky challenges like adding an item/key word to the scene your working on. Examples include “Add a Ninja to your scene” or “Something explodes.” Participation in word sprints and writing challenges is strictly voluntary. If someone is cruising along on their heartwarming knitting romance, they may not care to add a ninja or an explosion. On the other hand, their characters could start discussing how to knit a ninja costume for a beloved grandchild and open a whole new subplot based on Ida Mae’s grandson who is in the hospital suffering from burns. It’s all just silly writing fun, but it could open new plot possibilities.
Some people hate Write In events but I love them. During my first four years of participation in NaNoWriMo, I found the Write In events to be highly motivating. Writing is such a solitary pursuit. It feels good to spend time with others doing the same thing. There is just something so magical about sitting in a room surrounded by the sounds of fingers tip, tap, click, clacking away as fast as possible.
When you listen to music with a fast tempo, you walk faster. When you listen to the cacophony of other productive writers typing fast, you type faster. At least I do.
Yes! My events will be at two public libraries so they are open to all authors (and aspiring authors) who want to participate. I’m not going to audit the group and/or exclude anyone who has not registered on the NaNoWriMo website (or the Young Writers Program website). That said, I HIGHLY recommend joining the challenge, creating an author profile and a novel. It’s all FREE…and there is something so powerful and motivating about posting word counts online.
Sounds great! When and where can I participate in a Write In?
I’m hosting two write in events in the North Georgia region:
If you guessed anything to do with sales figures, you would be wrong. However, they both started as NaNoWriMo winners.
Unfortunately, 2006 (the year I wrote the first 50,000 words of NSLA, NSFA) was the last time I won the month-long writing challenge. But that is about to change!
I’ve decided to dive head-first into NaNoWriMo this year. Here’s what that means:
If you are participating in NaNoWriMo this year and are in the North Georgia region, please, please, PLEASE come join one or both of my write in events:
Yes, the times are outside of both libraries’ posted hours, but don’t let that scare you away. We’ll be meeting in the Community Rooms at both locations and I’ll have the key to get in.
An alternate title for this post is Why I Hid My Star Wars Geekery for Over 30 Years.
Note: Posting on this topic scares me. I’ve wanted to write about this for months, but I kept putting it off. What if I insult someone who endured terrible bullying, beyond anything I’ve ever experienced? What if I attract trolls? But oh well, I’ve decided to ignore my fears and get on with it. This is the first article in a planned series.
There’s been quite a few articles, online discussions and Twitter campaigns over the past few years about the “recent” proliferation of geek bullies. If you’re not familiar with this situation, then I highly recommend reading We Are The Trouble With Nerds by Rob Kaiju. (Fair warning, it is not easy to read and there’s some profanity.) In a twist that is both sad and hilarious, a nasty troll showed up to spew some hate in the comments, pretty much reinforcing Rob’s article.
Most of the geek vs. geek hatred appears to be directed at female cosplayers. Noah Berlatsky does a great job of discussing this in his article Why Comic-Book Guys Are Afraid of Cosplay for The Atlantic. I’m not a serious cosplayer, but I’ve always envied those folks a wee bit (and I certainly love any excuse for wearing a fun costume). Learning that those girls are subjected to such blatant attacks really ticks me off!
As far as I can tell, the underlying themes of all geek bullying seem to be a toxic brew of misogyny, homophobia and the absolute belief that personal pain + freedom of speech = a divine calling to hurl the worst possible insults at others.
Or, said another way:
Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they.
While there’s no doubt that the rise of social media has brought this crap to the forefront, I would like to point out that it is not a new thing. Geek and nerd culture has never been this open, warm, welcoming place…at least not in my experience. From my point of view, declaring my love for Star Wars has always been a tricky situation.
Way back in 1980, I was a sensitive 9-year-old girl so dazzled by The Empire Strikes Back that I could hardly think about anything else. Other kids in my neighborhood, both boys and girls, were happy to act out new Star Wars adventures with me, but I walked around with this absolute certainty that none of them could possibly love that other world as much as I did. I was obsessed. Day and night, my brain was filled with visions of Jedi, stormtroopers, droids, exotic aliens and…all the possibilities of living in a galaxy far, far away. I tried to describe this dreamy bubble of Star Wars-fueled fantasy through the eyes of my main character in Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away:
Two days have gone by. Nothing seems real to me. My head is in the stars….The chores fly by in a blur. The vacuum cleaner is my own little droid. The handle of our ancient lawn mower is the steering mechanism for a supersonic space cruiser. Even the feather duster becomes an exotic alien pet that carries secret messages between spies. I name it Fizzwicky.”
Back to the real world, circa 1981…when my bubble burst. It wasn’t one dramatic moment. Most kids had moved on to other interests but my obsession with Star Wars was still going strong. Then I had several small skirmishes with fanboys who needed to put me in my place. It wasn’t a gang; they didn’t jump out and attack me with plastic lightsabers on my way to school. Quizzing and ridicule were the main weapons of choice.
I would declare myself a huge Star Wars fan and a boy would narrow his eyes and start quizzing me. Not simple questions pulled from the movie scripts, oh no! Really obscure bits of trivia related to the exact name/model of a certain character’s blaster (I could draw a picture of it) or the chemical biology of Mynocks (um, they like to chew on power cables?). If I failed the test, which I usually did, they would laugh at me &/or tell me to go play with dolls.
Slowly, I started to believe that boys equated fandom with facts, statistics, and a nearly encyclopedic inventory of knowledge. My kind of fandom – fantasies in which I dreamed up totally new characters, planets and stories – were considered silly girlish nonsense. So I stopped telling most people I was a Star Wars fan.
Now let me say right now that there were plenty of young boys who enjoyed the same sort of fandom that I enjoyed…I think one of them may be named J. J. Abrams. And I know for a fact that there are geek girls out there who can answer just about any piece of obscure trivia you can dig up on Wookieepedia. I’m not trying to be sexist. That said, I still think there is a predominantly male tendency to quiz, judge and exclude others from being a “true fan.”
This is not just a sci-fi geek thing. You want to see this same behavior out with the “cool kids?” Watch a pretty girl walk into a bar wearing an LA Dodgers baseball hat. 9 out of 10 times, some dude is going to ask her questions about the baseball team. And if she can’t answer those questions or, (*gulp*) looks him right in the eye and says she just likes the hat? There’s a high probability that he’ll make rude comments about how she should not be “allowed” to wear that hat.
What is that all about? Seriously! Can anyone explain it to me?
(This is a true story/scenario that I’ve witnessed several times. The girl in question thought those interactions were funny, but they always gave me a bad feeling. There was an underlying current of aggression.)
Just last year at the Decatur Book Festival, I was wearing my favorite piece of fangirl couture – this Millennium Falcon a-line dress – and enjoying the day. Some snotty little boy marched up to me and shouted, “Hey, why are you wearing that? You should not be wearing that. You’re a girl!” I mean the little toad was truly outraged and his parents just stood there laughing. At first, I smiled and laughed too. I mean, little toady boys don’t scare me any more. But then I remembered how it felt when I was younger. I thought about how intimidating he would have been to a grade-school girl, especially a child like Katie the Star Wars girl. Then I took the opportunity to give him a little Jedi lesson in manners. When his parents pulled him away, he was still thoroughly disgusted with me.
One more thing…I love The Big Bang Theory and was really looking forward to their May the 4th episode last year, but I was so disappointed. Sure, Bob Newhart was brilliant. But did anyone else notice the not so subtle message of “Star Wars is for boys” in that episode? Amy and Bernadette hide away to bake a Death Star cake for the guys so they won’t be forced to watch the movie marathon…only to discover that they’ll be forced to watch all six movies anyway. Oh the horror!
Et tu, Big Bang Theory?
Anyway, I’ve gotten a little off topic here. Not shocking, but I need to bring this post to a close with a few final thoughts.
Bullying plays an important role in my first novel because it’s such an important topic to me. I never experienced the terrible sort of bullying that’s depicted in the novel. I was a chubby, loud, overly sensitive little girl with low self-esteem and a desperate need to please. Some days I’m still that girl. Growing up, there were a few ugly incidents that still make me cringe and want to curl up in a ball, but they had nothing to do with Star Wars geekery. My bad experiences were very minor compared to some of the other things I’ve seen and read on this topic.
I hope that no one who has experienced bullying will read this and think that I am trying to trivialize the problem. At the same time, I really don’t think this bashing behavior is a new thing. And I think its roots are deeply embedded in our entire culture, not just geek culture.
When ninety-year-old Bubbles receives a letter from Mexico City asking her to pick up her mother’s ashes, lost there seventy years earlier and only now surfacing, she hatches a plan. A woman with a mission, Bubbles convinces her hippie daughter Feather to accompany her on the quest. Both women have recently shed husbands and have a secondary agenda: they’d like a little action. And they get it.
Alternating narratives weave together Feather and Bubbles’ odyssey. The two women travel south from Canada to Mexico where Bubbles’ long-dead mother, grandmother, and grandfather turn up, enlivening the narrative with their hilarious antics.
Amazon Buy Link: Fling! by Lily Iona MacKenzie
When I first read the description of Fling! by Lily Iona MacKenzie, I was eager to start reading. I’m a sucker for complicated mother-daughter relationships and, at its heart, this is the story of sixty-year-old Feather and her ninety-year-old mother, Bubbles. Struggling under the weight of past disappointments and betrayals, their relationship is loving, but strained. When Bubbles pressures her daughter into a quest to recover her mother’s missing ashes in Mexico City, the duo sets out on an adventure that seems ill-fated. Then a few dead ancestors join the party, highlighting the rampant misunderstandings, missed opportunities, lost loves, betrayals and petty jealousies of the past. In this story, the sins of the parents continue to echo through the generations in fascinating patterns.
This book is a giddy, breathless, dizzy journey through space and time – pinballing from Isle of Skye in Scotland in the early twentieth century, Canada in the 1950’s and Mexico in 1996. The point of view bounces around quite a bit, and at times I was rather seasick from the view inside Bubbles’ head. That said, Bubbles’ swings in thought, focus, mood and personality were authentic, reminding me of listening to my own grandmother during the middle stages of dementia. It is obvious that the author is familiar with the idiosyncrasies of a free-spirited woman entering her nineties; unwilling to go gently into anyone’s version of “that dark night.”
This is a poetic, unconventional, farcical journey through the enigmatic terrain of family relationships, shifting perceptions and lost loves.
A Canadian by birth, a high school dropout, and a mother at 17, in her early years, Lily Iona MacKenzie supported herself as a stock girl in the Hudson’s Bay Company, as a long distance operator for the former Alberta Government Telephones, and as a secretary (Bechtel Corp sponsored her into the States). She also was a cocktail waitress at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, briefly broke into the male-dominated world of the docks as a longshoreman (and almost got her legs broken), founded and managed a homeless shelter in Marin County, and eventually earned two Master’s degrees (one in Creative writing and one in the Humanities). She has published reviews, interviews, short fiction, poetry, travel pieces, essays, and memoir in over 140 American and Canadian venues. Fling was published in July 2015 by Pen-L Publishing. Bone Songs, another novel, will be published in 2016. Her poetry collection All This was published in 2011. She also teaches writing at the University of San Francisco, is vice-president of USF’s part-time faculty union, paints, and travels widely with her husband.