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NaNoWriMo – Are You Taking the Challenge?

What’s NaNoWriMo, some of you may ask? It stands for National Novel Writing Month. Yup. People write 50,000-word novels in a month. Not yours truly, but some crazy, die-hard, devoted, energetic writers—like Sarah Rubio, an editor for children and nonfiction at Tyndale House.

Sarah is a NaNoWriMo pro, having taken part since 2007. She feels NaNoWriMo has taught her to achieve really ambitious goals, which she meets by calculating in advance how many words she’ll need to write daily to stay on track. Producing 2,000 words a day after her kids are in bed usually takes her about 1.5 to 2 hours. “I try to have a general idea of where I want to take the story so that when I sit down to crank out words I don’t have to spend too much time thinking.”

For anyone feeling a desire to attempt NaNoWriMo for the first time, here are a few suggestions to prime your pump when you’re freewriting in the beginning to familiarize yourself with your story:

Begin with brain dumping, pouring out those unedited, unfiltered ideas onto paper and seeing where they take you. Often the results surprise even the writer. Who knew what odd, interesting ideas lurk inside your brain! Type continuously to keep a flow going during a freewriting session. Sarah uses a version of freewriting with uninterrupted typing during her designated writing time. “If I get stuck on plot, I’ll start writing descriptions, fleshing out my characters or setting, or writing notes about what might come later or something I want to change about what I’ve already written.”

Writing prompts can familiarize you with your characters—their quirks, voices, problems, and wants. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Try beginning a series of paragraphs with one of the following phrases:
    • The unspoken apology hindered the . . .
    • Everyone knew who was lying by the way . . .
    • If stories could have scents, this one would carry the aroma of . . .
    • The last time we saw him . . .
    • Don’t ever forget the day . . .
    • He should’ve known better than to . . .
    • The sounds outside the window bring to mind . . .
  • Put your main characters in a scene together and create a power struggle, allowing the power to shift from one character to the other by the end of the scene. This can be done verbally or through action.
  • Write a letter to your main character empathizing with her struggles, encouraging her to get over her struggles, or chastising her for her selfishness. Cast a vision for how you’d like to see this character grow.

You get the idea. To become better acquainted with your story and characters, clarify your characters’ wants by brainstorming those wants and their influence on your story’s conflict, plot, and tension.

Setting: Freewrite about where your novel takes place. How does your setting contribute to the mood or metaphor of the story?  Is it an urban or rural setting? What is the novel’s time period—modern, futuristic, or historical?

 

Point of View: Brainstorm about who you want to tell your story and why. Remember that a unique point of view adds interest for your reader. How would your story change if you switched from third person to first person? Consider introducing a very unusual narrator—like Death (The Book Thief)—or a collective narrator, as in “we” when a group of cousins tells a story in During the Reign of the Queen of Persia. Experiment!

Characters: Sketch out and introduce unexpected and unusual characters. In Chris Fabry’s novel The Promise of Jesse Woods, the author introduces us to a young boy who moved from Pittsburgh to Dogwood, West Virginia, with his pastor father. Feeling out of place, Matt forges a fast bond with two unlikely friends: a mixed-race boy and a tough-as-nails girl with a sister on her hip and no dad in sight.

Revision: We wouldn’t recommend anyone write a novel in six months and then send it to an agent or publisher the following day. Revisions are important and offer you the opportunity to layer and deepen your work. Take advantage of these opportunities—but take advantage of them after November.

Most of all, be kind to yourself. Anyone who attempts to write a novel in a month is a rock star. Sarah Rubio didn’t make the 50,000 word goal her first year attempting NaNoWriMo, but she’s reached that goal every year since. The moral of the story? Don’t quit!

One of the best ways to get story ideas is to read voraciously. If you’re in need of a new book this month, consider picking up one of the many great e-book deals we have . . .

The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry

Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers

Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke

Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh

Visit E-book Extra  for more great deals available this month!

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Thanks for reading! Are you trying NaNoWriMo next month? Let us know in the comments!

September New Releases + #BookGiveaway

Hey there, readers! Don’t miss out on a chance to win one of these new must-reads, hitting shelves this month!

Rule of Law by Randy Singer

Rule of Law asks the question: Is the president above the law? Available in bookstores and online.

Crisis Shot by Janice Cantore

Crisis Shot is the perfect read for fans of Castle and romantic suspense. Available in bookstores and online.

Loving Luther by Allison Pittman

Explore Loving Luther, a novel unearthing the love story of Katharina von Bora and Martin Luther. Available in bookstores and online.

How Sweet the Sound by Amy Sorrells

“With poetic prose, lyrical descriptions, and sensory details . . . this story dives into the Gulf Coast culture of pecan orchards and debutante balls, exposing layers of family secrets and sins. In the end comes redemption, grace, forgiveness, and faith. Bravo!” —Julie Cantrell, New York Times bestselling author

Available in bookstores and online.

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Enter to win one of the above novels through the Gleam app below. One winner (US only) will be chosen for each novel.

Good luck!

September Crazy4Fiction #BookGiveaway

Are you Small Town or Big City? Quiz + Giveaway

Hey there, readers! To start a good story, you must first develop a compelling setting. Whether on Mars, in a small quirky, lakeside town, or in the tundra, this setting sets the stage for your characters to go off on their adventures.

Romantic suspense author Janice Cantore has explores small town life and big city living in the context of her stories. Life as a small town police officer, for example, will bring some unique challenges; Janice enjoyed testing these waters in her upcoming novel Crisis Shot.

We invite you to take the quiz below and find out where YOU fit: small town life or big city living?

Comment on this blog with your results and be entered to win a copy of Crisis Shot

US entries only. Winner will be announced on our Crazy4Fiction Facebook page Monday, September 4th.

Author Heidi Chiavaroli Shares Five Things You May Not Know About The Boston Massacre

Heidi Chiavaroli , author of Freedom’s Ring, would love to share five things you may not know about the Boston Massacre. What makes her debut novel unique is the dual time periods; Freedom’s Ring takes place during the aftermath of two pivotal times in Massachusetts history: The Boston Massacre and the Boston Marathon bombing. Hear from Heidi below as she shares her Boston knowledge!

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The Boston Massacre, one of the major events that propelled our country toward seeking its independence from England, plays a major role in my novel, Freedom’s Ring. It occurred in Boston on the night of March 5, 1770. The conflict ended in the death of five colonists at the hands of the British Regulars, but because so many factors played into that night, and because so much was at stake for both the British and the Sons of Liberty from a political standpoint, fact and fiction have blended over the many years since the incident occurred. Here are some things you may not have known about the Boston Massacre.

 

1) The majority of British soldiers were miserable in Boston.

4,000 British troops came to Boston in October, 1768. They were charged with keeping order as the rebellious town of Boston (about 20,000) grumbled over the substantial taxation imposed upon it by the Townshend Acts.

The soldiers were not only despised by the locals, they were not paid well and were often forced to live in less than ideal circumstances. Many sought side jobs which further angered the colonists who were in need of the work themselves. Many of the soldiers were rude to the citizens and even engaged in street fights with boys of the town.

2) It wasn’t the first fatal incident in colonial Boston at the time of British occupation.

Not two weeks before the Massacre, a school boy of twelve years named Christopher Seider was killed in another dispute. He and some of his friends had been throwing rocks at the shop of a Loyalist merchant. Ebenezer Richardson, an unpopular Customs worker, came to the merchant’s defense. Richardson was hit in the head with a rock and ran to his home. The mob chased after him. Richardson shot his musket into the crowd from a second-story window, killing Seider.

Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty used Seider’s funeral as a display of political sentiment. Adams even called Seider “the first martyr to American liberty.” 5,000 Bostonians attended the memorial. The town was still reeling from this incident on the night of the Massacre.

3) The colonists started it.

The Massacre began when a young apprentice shouted out offensive comments to a sentry on duty at the Customs house on the night of March 5th. Words were exchanged before the sentry hit the boy with the end of his musket. The boy yelled for help and returned with a frenzied crowd of young men.

The sentry called for the main guard, led by Captain Thomas Preston. The crowd grew to 400 men who began throwing snow at the Regulars, pressing in on them with clubs, calling out lewd comments, and daring them to fire. Captain Preston’s trial account tells of a soldier getting hit with a stick, and then firing. Soon after, other soldiers followed suit, without having been given the order to do so.

4) Paul Revere’s Engraving Wasn’t Historically Accurate.

It might be hard to believe, but one of the most famous historical heroes of our country fudged his engraving of the event. In the most well-known image of the American Revolution, Paul Revere creates a piece of political propaganda that shows the most formidable army in the world being given orders to fire on an innocent crowd.

In the engraving, we don’t see the angry, working class colonists with their clubs. We see unarmed, well-dressed, gentlemen colonists on the ground, blood gushing from their wounds, a little puppy in the foreground for good measure.

Another notable fact is the absence of Crispus Attucks in the engraving. The first to fall that night, Attucks was a fugitive mulatto slave. Revere was clearly trying to gain the sympathies of his white, fellow peers across the thirteen colonies.

Not until 1856 (with the Civil War on the horizon) was a lithograph created showing Crispus Attucks at the center of the attack.

5) John Adams (yes, that John Adams) defended the British soldiers at trial.

While the second president of the United States and cousin to Patriot leader Samuel Adams empathized with the Patriots, he put his career and even his safety on the line to defend the Regular soldiers. One can only reflect on his motives, but many historians believe he chose to put the law above his own personal beliefs.

With John Adams and Josiah Quincy’s help, Captain Thomas Preston was found not guilty of murder.

Six of the remaining eight soldiers were also found not guilty of murder. The other two, Privates Kilroy and Montgomery were found guilty of manslaughter. Though the privates could have been sentenced to death for their crimes, they pleaded the “benefit of the clergy” and were spared. Originally used by clergymen, this ordinance allowed a religious member to claim they were outside the authority of the secular courts. It was eventually extended to first-time offenders. Both Privates Kilroy and Montgomery were granted the benefit, and branded with a letter “M” for “manslaughter” with a hot iron on their thumbs. Since offenders could only use the “benefit of the clergy” once, this would ensure they couldn’t claim it again.

So though five colonists lay dead as a result of the Boston Massacre, no real punishment was given to any of the Regulars. This fueled the fires of rebellion that would eventually lead to the Revolutionary War. It’s in these pages of history that the characters in my novel, Freedom’s Ring, find themselves.

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From the Boston Marathon bombing to the American Revolution and the Boston Massacre, past and present intertwine to create an unexpected destiny. Freedom’s Ring is available in stores and online August 2018. Visit us on the Crazy4Fiction Facebook page for updates and giveaways coming up this month!

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