It’s November. Did you join National Writing Novel Month (NaNoWriMo)?

Fellow blogger JoHawk encouraged me to give NaNoWriMo a try, so I joined today. That is the good news. The bad news is that I am already 5,000 words behind schedule!

NaNoWriMo is a free online creative writing program that you join in the month of November to basically push yourself to write your novel. Everyone who joins is attempting to write 50,000 words for a novel. That means 1,666 words a day.

The reason NaNoWriMo is popular is because they have forums where you meet fellow writers. You can connect with buddies, so you encourage each other on a daily basis. They also give advice on character development, plots, endings and more.

It is a bit of a competition. I don’t know much about this as I just joined, but I’ve read that you can upload your novel on a daily basis and/or at the end. Then the novels are judged  and they reveal a winner.

NaNoWriMo has been offering this program for 20 years. There is definitely excitement in trying to push ourselves to a new level. Reach goals, finally finish our novels and make dreams come true.

Ok, I’ve got to go, I am already behind on my word count.

Here is my first sentence, “Isabella’s fiancé proposed. She should have been happy, but the ring was a fake.”

To be continued…

Summer reading -> new books, put away winter books that failed me…

Books on NightstandI have had three books on my nightstand, none of them held my attention. Every night I picked one up, read a few sentences, closed the book, sighed and turned off the light.

I like variety. I can have a few books going at a time. These were all good choices, the issue with each book was a slow writing style. Right now, my mind is on overload, so if I have 15 minutes to read before I go to sleep, I need a faster paced writing style. A story that keeps my interest.

I felt like Marie Kondo (the Japanese expert on tidying up your house). Talk to each book, wish them well and give them away.

That was very liberating!

With a cup of Tazo – Zen tea in hand, I got comfortable at my desk and began my book search. I logged into Facebook to review the “Historical Fiction Book Lovers” site.

SUCCESS – I found an interesting book by Amy Tan, “Saving Fish from Drowning.” The book had mixed reviews, because it was quite different from her previous books, i.e. The Joy Luck Club and The Kitchen God’s Wife.

For me, I liked it immediately. Tan starts the story with news clippings of 11 Americans who disappeared while traveling the Burma Road from China to Myanmar. It appears to be a true story, so I searched Google to find out what happened to these 11 Americans. Turns out, Tan made this story up, this left me curious.

I found a second book by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books). His books take place in Barcelona. First time I’ve heard of him. This book seemed very interesting with action, intrigue, rare book dealers – not boring.

Now, I might complain of too much reading and lack of sleep!

What’s on your nightstand?

Puzzles, brain teasers, word mazes, crosswords, and more…

Puzzle book 1I was looking at books, nothing in particular just “seeing” what was out there. As it was Sunday, I saw some people doing the crossword puzzle in the newspaper. I’m not good at crossword puzzles, I never seem to know the answers to the cryptic clues they give. Out of 50, I might get five right, which is very disappointing. I always give up.

Maybe, because I was thinking of crosswords, when I went to the books in the sale isle, I came across this “Puzzle Collection” book. Normally, I would give it a glance, nothing more. I saw the dreaded crossword picture on the front cover, but the words “puzzle collection,” caught my attention. I love puzzles. Both the physical ones you put together and the ones where you have to use your mind. So, I slowly took a peek in the book hoping it was more than word mazes, crosswords and sudoku.

I was not disappointed. In fact, as I was flipping through it, I got excited. The book had all sorts of interesting challenges. Lately, I have long boring train rides, this book would keep me busy.

Take a look, this was a fun one, “INTERNATIONAL SPY TRAVELER?!” I was on board with that. I felt like I was becoming “James Bond’s” travel agent.

Puzzle book 2

Then there was this one.

Puzzle Book 3

I have to say, “I was hooked!” Had to get this book. Better than crosswords, for me anyhow.

THEN I thought, I’ll get so engrossed in a puzzle that I will miss my stop to go home! If I took Amtrak, I could end up in San Francisco or New York. The book was worth the risk!

It’s good to challenge our minds.

Prince charming is there… we just need to kiss a few toads first.

chocolate frog

Have you ever seen a BIG chocolate frog? When my friend sent this, I immediately thought of fairy tales we read as children that say, “We need to kiss a few toads, before me meet our Prince.” So, the big question would be, “How many, on an average, toads must we truly kiss to meet our Prince?”

I go to my mathematical friend, Edmark at “Learn Fun Facts,” in Hong Kong for this one.

Edmark, any research on this?

Help us out, give us hope (smile).

Book Review: Big Miracles by Joanna Garzilli… jewelry in Florence, Italy

78369de7-95b5-49a6-b8e6-ddbc79271ef3A few days ago I was at the bookstore. It’s my favorite place to be besides browsing jewelry shop windows in Italy. When my children were young, if we were in Florence, of course, I would have to look at the jewelry on the Ponte Vecchio. My younger daughter would tell me, “Mama, promise, no looking in the windows, we are going for gelato.”

This is funny, because if any of you have been to Florence and have walked across the Ponte Vecchio, you KNOW it is IMPOSSIBLE to walk across the bridge and not look at jewelry. All the shops sell jewelry. The bridge is glittering in white, yellow and rose gold!

I would kid her that she was half Italian, jewelry was in her DNA. One day, I might be telling her not to look in the windows. As she gave me a scowl, I would give a grin and say, “I promise, I will do my BEST to walk in the middle of the road.” See photo, I did a zig zagging walk across the bridge. Can you picture it?  Look in one window to the right, have her pull me to the center, then go to the left, look in one window, have her pull me to the center! It was most amusing.

43a807e3-0894-4785-9fce-bc9248d95e75Guess what – NOW, she is at the age where she sends me photos of jewelry she likes. I KNEW this would happen!

Back to the bookstore. As it is a new year, there was a table full of motivational / spiritual types of books. Browsing through them, I found this book about “Big Miracles,” by Joanna Garzilli.

It’s a book about connecting with your Spirit. One thing she brought up, which I had never heard of, was experiencing the “dark night of the soul.” She talks about when she experienced this period and soon after met her husband. She explains that “the dark night of the soul,” is when we are going through a period of hopelessness/despair, it’s not depression, we are low, but somehow we know we must rid ourselves of negativity, so we can move toward happiness. She spoke about uncontrollable crying and illness that wouldn’t go away. She realized later that her soul was releasing the part of her that felt unlovable, because shortly after this she met her future husband.

She has some interesting insights. I think with each book we read, we gain a little more knowledge that helps us in self discovery, focusing on our vision and destiny in life. Some years we are right on target, other years it is slow moving and then suddenly it seems our hard work pays off and we are catapulted into the happiness and success we have been focusing on.

Life, it’s not easy, but if we focus on the goal — WE GET THERE!

Books: Do you have one that really made you “think?”

9F251DD9-289A-465B-912A-71DCC1758A83Someone asked me if I read a book that really made me “think” about life and moved me. I said, “YES,” immediately, because I came across Anita Moorjani’s book, “Dying to Be Me,” a few years ago and I still think about different parts of her book.

One day, I was watching Dr. Wayne W. Dyer on television, he was giving one of his inspirational talks. In the middle of the show, he said he wanted to introduce us to a woman he had met who had an interesting story. In walked, Anita Moorjani.

Moorjani began to share her story of having cancer and how she was in the hospital, went out of her body, was able to see her very sick self and reflect on “how” she could have ended up that way. As she says on the cover of the book, she decided that she wanted to live and once she re-entered her body in the hospital, she knew she was going to be CANCER FREE.

After watching Dyer’s show, I was curious to read Moorjani’s book. What I liked about her book is that she starts from her childhood to tell the story of her life and how she feels she got cancer. It’s a very interesting book.

If you are pressed for reading time, you can view her TEDx Bay Area.

Sometimes a book like this crosses our path, which makes us “think” about life.

Query letters to agents… so, you’ve been rejected!

 

 

This week I have been working on the dreaded “query letter.” I’ve finished one of my children’s books and last year I sent it out to a few agents. Two wrote back that they weren’t “feeling it.” Well, not their exact words, but basically they didn’t have the “wow, factor” when they read my story. Two others never responded, which is par for the course.

Rejection is hard, because it makes us second guess ourselves. Our first reaction is to toss our story into the trash can, like Stephen King did. Done, finished, it wasn’t meant to be! After a good night’s sleep and soul searching, we start to think. Was it really my story or maybe I am not querying the right agents?! We pull our story out of the trash, dust it off and start again.

We take another pass at our story, maybe have a person or two read it and give comments. We tighten up the text and we start the query process again. If you are a writer, you know the drill — research sample query letters, research agents, research publishers, etc. Trying to find that one golden nugget that sparks inspiration where we type like mad and pat ourselves on the back for our brilliant query letter.

THAT is where I am today. Focusing on the end result, which is ALL of YOU lining up for a signed copy of my book only to find out I’ve run out of books! Laughing, didn’t that sound good!

In all seriousness, if you’ve written a winning query letter, please share some pointers. It’s time to turn this story around from rejection to signed contract!