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  • Okay, quick recap: Last week Blair manipulated me into trying to write a 50,000 word novel in one month following the Camp NaNoWriMo protocol, and then she promptly went on a two-week vacation.

    Now that one week has passed, I’m glad to say that my word count is on track, I have spilled very little blood, and I’m only crying very late at night when no one can see or hear me. I’ve also learned a few things that I hope will help me on this and future writing projects, and maybe they’ll help you too, so here they are:

    1: Quit wasting time on stuff that you can figure out later. For example, I have always hated coming up with character names. I just don’t have a knack for it. Some of the names I rejected for my story include: Endicott Ramblesby. Pete Bott. Martha Refrigeratorface. Parker Halmurmisson. I just can’t do it. But with the time limit imposed by this project, I decided not to expend precious temporal units on inventing names, I just did my best and moved on. It was quite liberating.

    2: Get organized. Reading the NaNoWriMo message boards and corresponding with other, uh, NaNoWriMoers, I’ve been amazed at how much prep work some writers do before they actually begin writing their manuscripts. Lots of people create note cards with character info on them. Some do the same with plot points so they can shuffle things around and try different combinations. Plenty of writers invest a significant chunk of time compiling research so it will be on hand and easy to access when they’re writing. There are software packages like Scrivner that can help you do all this digitally. As we discussed last week, I personally am not prone to a whole lot of this type of frontloading. But I am starting to rethink that. I do know that if I hadn’t hammered out an outline before starting this venture, I’d be lost by now.

  • RC: Hi everybody, Rick Chillot here. You know what I like? Free time, sanity, a pain-free spine, a good night's sleep, what's left of my hairline...the list goes on and on. So when I came across the one-month-novel-writing event Camp NaNoWriMo, from the people behind National Novel Writing Month, my horror could not have been greater. And yet, I kept thinking about it. Is it truly possible to write a 50,000 word novel in one month? What would that experience be like? Would I absolutely hate it, or just moderately hate it? In the end, it seemed the only way to punish myself for even considering this was to sign up and try it, with the hope that the emotional scars would prevent me from making similar decisions in the future.

  • Recently the Quirk compound was visited by beloved children's book character Flat Stanley.

    As many of you will recall, young Stanley was rendered two-dimensional when a huge bulletin board fell on top of him. He didn't let flatness keep him down, though; in fact, he took advantage of the situation by folding himself into envelopes and mailing himself all around the world. Since then, kids in over 6.000 schools--including my nephew Sam--have participated in the Flat Stanley Project by creating their own Flat Stanleys and mailing them all over the place.

    The Stanleys are mailed back with photos and information about where they've been. So here are some of the pictures from Stanley's visit to Quirk. (Spoiler alert--Sam got an A.)

  • The thing about stories is that they make room for the weird and (almost) impossible. We've met characters who push our imaginations to the limit and show us all the amazing things they can do. Towns are like that too. Fictional settings can be a little strange and "off." While they make look normal on the surface, there's usually something odd hiding underneath. Here are six fictional towns that re-define what it means to be weird.

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