Monday, October 31, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011, Should I?

Last year I signed up for NaNoWriMo. What is NaNoWriMo, you ask? NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month and (literally) hundreds of thousands of people attempt to write a book of at least 50,000 words. If you do, you win. For more information, or to sign up for yourself, visit the NaNoWriMo website.

So, did I "win" NaNoWriMo? No, and yes.
I did not achieve the 50,000 word goal. I don't think I even crossed the 10,000 word mark. So why did I add the little "yes" at the end up there? Because the entire reason I signed up for NaNoWriMo was to learn more about the writing process. And I felt I learned a lot!

The biggest thing I learned was the need for outlining, which I've already covered in previous blogs. But it was also great to see a character get developed in front of my eyes and end up taking me in directions that I hadn't even considered. I also found that when it happened I was both enthralled and infuriated. Hence, the reason I need to become a better outliner.
I've had a few people ask me if I planned on doing it again. Until this time I've been saying, "No, not for me this year." Primarily it is for two reasons. 1) I don't have a suitable outline and 2) I don't know if I can make the time commitment. There are a few other cons, but I think the pros outweigh the cons so I won't dwell on them too much.

Yesterday I was giving NaNoWriMo some thought and came across an idea that would help take care of concern #1 (not having an outline). What if, instead of writing out a book, I write a number of short stories instead. This would enable me to practice the craft (something I should be doing anyways) and could possibly even help me stumble across the story I'm looking for. I did a little searching and it turns out that NaNoWriMo is okay with this idea, so I can do it and not feel guilty. If I can shoot for one short story a day I should come pretty close to the 50,000 word goal.

But then there is concern #2, the time commitment. Time seems to be the commodity I'm always short on. And while I think the motivation of NaNoWriMo could help me find more time to write I still don't know if that is going to be enough. So while I need to shoot for 2,000 words a day, I don't know if I can realistically pull that off.

I do have a couple of days throughout the month where I can play catch-up, but my biggest fear is that I'll use that as an excuse: "Oh, I'm busy tonight, I'll just write twice as much this weekend." That always leads to me needing to write 7 times as much over the weekend. I've got to avoid doing that as often as possible.

I admit, I'm mostly talking (errrr, typing) to myself here. Should I do NaNoWriMo and give it my best shot? I'm leaning towards yes, but I'm not 100% sold on the idea. So, dear reader, your task (should you choose to accept it) is to convince me to do it. I'd love to read your feedback on if you are doing it or not and why. And if you think I should do it, SELL ME ON IT. That is all.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Book Review: The Crystal Bridge by Charlie M. Pulsifer

This is largely the review I left on Amazon, but I'm going to add a little more detail. Because this is a new book by a lesser known novelist, I'm almost positive that everybody perusing my blog has never read -- or even heard of -- The Crystal Bridge by Charlie M. Pulsifer. Therefore, I'm going to try and give you a good idea of what the story is about while avoiding adding any spoilers.

I’ll get the one thing off my chest that I didn’t like about this book, and that was the number of characters and plotlines thrown at us at the beginning of the book. It first struck me as a bit much as the story lines seemed so unrelated. But as you continued reading they do all fall into two storylines that become interrelated. In the end, I was left satisfied with how they all came together and were independently resolved. But despite the fleshing out of several characters, there were three main characters and I hope that by introducing you to them it makes getting into this book a little bit easier.

The first is Kaden, a teenage high school boy who has the power and ability to open up worm holes to different worlds with the power of something he calls an egg. The idea of the egg is fantastic, and I loved it. Kaden is hesitant to use it because the one time he did he almost gets eaten by tiger-like creatures and he fails to bring anything through with him – including his clothes.

Things change when he meets Aren at his new school, a teenage girl who has an ability of her own. She has the ability to read people’s minds. Actually, it is more than that. She can see into their soul, know their inner workings and secrets, and be able to devise quickly the character of somebody. She is also the only one who can see Kaden’s egg. Accidently, she triggers the egg and transports them both to a new world.

Before long, they get separated, and Kaden and Aren try to find each other so they can both return to Earth. Meanwhile, they run across some different Elf- and Dwarf-like races as well as a group of humans who are about to be attacked by a powerful, God-like being. Kaden and Aren then get intermingled with their politics and society which fulfills the fantasy half of this story.

Then there is James. This is where we see the Science Fiction half of this story. James is a scientist who is hired to work for a secret, mysterious company to manipulate DNA. Charlie M. Pulsipher must study a lot of weird science because this point of view explains all the mysteries and “magic” in this story – even the magic in the fantasy side of the story. This is where wormhole theory is explained and Pulsipher writes a great story that could come right out of a Michael Crichton novel.

So there are plotlines in both our world and this new world that must get resolved by these three characters and their friends/counterparts.

I love how the story gets wrapped up. It does a great job of explaining a lot of things that often go unresolved in most stories. For example, how do the people and creatures of the other world communicate with Kaden and Aren in English? Explained! Also, there is some foreshadowing throughout the book that comes to glorious fruition at the end and makes you think, “Ooooh, I get it now!” The ending had the resolution of many great unseen twists that I thought made the story fantstic.

I thought this was a great and brilliant book. I’m a slow reader, but I could not put this down for the last 30% of the book (causing me to stay up way past my bedtime and a drowsy day at work the next morning). Everything came together quite well. And with the Kindle version being priced at a reasonable $3.99, picking this up is a no-brainer.

It is primarily aimed at the young-adult crowd, but I found that people should find somebody to identify with into their 30’s. I am roughly the same age as James and I found myself rooting for him the most and it wasn’t because of his (fantastic) name. So I would recommend this to both genders between ages 14 and 40.

Despite my misgivings concerning the number of characters and the jumping around confusion that came from it I still give it five stars. For a debut novel, I thought it was quite solid and I look forward to future works from Mr. Pulsipher.

If you are interested in buying the book, just click on the link below.

Here is more information about Charlie M. Pulsifer if you'd like to follow his writing progress and get to know him better:

Charlie's Blog (Notice Your World)
Charlie's Twitter Account