Blog Posts

Dispatch from Camp NaNoWriMo: The Best Editing Books for Fiction Writers

(Image via flickr)

If Camp NaNoWriMo were an actual camp, this would be the week of Color Wars, final bonfires, and tearful goodbyes. We'd all be wrapping friendship bracelets around each others' wrists and promising to keep in touch during the school year. But as bittersweet as the end of the session may be, Camp NaNo has a considerable perk that normal camps don't: a manuscript draft!

Yes, your wonky little Word doc now qualifies as a manuscript draft! It's a momentous occasion that many would-be writers never reach, and one that deserves a little end-o-camp Jamboree. But when the embers have died down (and you've taken a good long break to give yourself some fresh perspective) your next quest, should you choose to accept it, is revising. A first draft is wonderful and pure and (if my experience holds) kind of a mess. It needs some TLC before it can become a book.

There's no Camp Revision-a-wassa to see you through the process, but there are great books to help you shape your manuscript into a story that's worth a whole arm's worth of friendship bracelets (yes, even the cool kind with beads and feathers woven in). Here are my favorite picks—read them, let the ideas stew for a few weeks, and then plunge back in to your book.

Revamped and Revisited: The Summer Reading List You Wish You'd Been Assigned

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With the end of the school year comes the summer reading list: the list of books that students will be tested on in the fall. The specific books obviously vary from school to school, but during my stint as a high school teacher, the summer reading list always faced the same challenges. Our department would argue about the purpose of summer reading, and we would end up standing divided, each with certain books in our corner.

While some of my colleagues struggled to find selections that were both 1) not adapted into movies and 2) not on Sparknotes, that generally limited the choices, and seemed wrong to me. It usually resulted in summer reading becoming a pointless assignment, with no real connection to the coursework in the coming year. It also did little to foster a love of reading for the students. It was a punishment assignment: a reminder that they weren’t free from the grasp of school.

Because for many students, the cycle of summer reading was the same: cramming it all in before a test, downloading study guides, or writing a vague essay that could be about any book.

Food Photography 101: How To Make Your Food Photos Even Tastier

Taking photos of food is easy! Especially compared to photographing people. Food doesn't talk back or move around. It just sits there looking delicious, waiting for you to find its best angle. Food never complains that you are making it look fat or ugly, and it never insists that you play death metal during the photo shoot.

Don't let all those gorgeous shots in cookbooks and on the internet intimidate you! Here are some tips to making successful food photos, whether you're cozy at home or out at a restaurant, street fair, luau, or anywhere with good food.

Six Ridic Words You Totes Didn’t Know Were Abbreves

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There’s a plague decimating the English language…or syllables of it, anyway. Perfectly good words are getting lopped off at the knees to make those cute-n-compact truncations known as abbreves (i.e., abbreviations, though I’m sure you could have figured that out). Yet for every person who finds them totes adorbs, there is obvi another person who thinks they sound less than profesh.

And while you might think that you’re one of those people fighting the good fight, sounding out every last syllable of gorgeous and family, word shortening takes no vacays. In fact, you probs have used one today without even realizing it. Here are six words that were abbreves before abbreving was cool. Go fig.

Let’s write a novel in a month: Part 3—How to Cheat

I am trying to write a 50,000-word novel by the end of the month. So are a few thousand other people in the Camp NaNoWriMo program. Why? The reasons vary. I suspect brain damage to be very high on the list.

And yet, I find myself hating the experience only about 75% as much as I thought I would. In fact, so far I’ve found it to be quite enlightening. Because the pressure to vomit out a thousand words or so every day has driven me to develop a number of, well, let’s call them “techniques” that help keep the ol’ word count ticking upwards. These are just variations on time-honored methods that great authors have used throughout history, but not everybody knows about them (I didn’t). So I thought I’d share them here, in the hopes that they’ll help you add bulk to your next big writing project, whatever it might be.

The Essential Guide To Celebrating Bastille Day At Home

One of my favorite Philadelphia traditions is held during the Bastille Day festival when a drag portrayal of Marie Antoinette stands high atop Eastern State Penitentiary throwing TastyKakes and saying, "Let them eat cake."

Now for those of you I haven't completely lost due to maximum Philadelphia reference saturation level or historical inaccuracy (blah blah blah, 'Let them eat cake has been accreddited to many high ranking women before Marie Antoinette, blah blah blah), there are plenty of ways to celebrate Bastille day without leaving an air conditioned space.


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