Write-ins, Rebels and Cupcakes?

April Camp NaNo Screnzy is here! Or is that frenzy? Either way, writing is imminent! Can you feel the rush of excitement and the trembling of multitudes of fingers poised over their keyboards?  I can.

camp_nano_logoBut what is Camp NaNo you ask?  Camp NaNoWriMo, NaNo for short, is a relaxed get away in the comfort of your own home, perfect for finishing up that pesky novel you’ve been working on, or that manuscript you started last year positive it’s the next blockbuster movie of the season.  It’s a month-long vacation from the stress of writing 50,000 words (although you can write that many if you’d like), allowing you to set your own writing pace whether it be words written, pages written or even pages edited.

Because this is a writing challenge, there is a minimum goal of 10,000 words for the month, which works out to 334 words a day. That’s just over one page’s worth of words, double spaced with one inch margins using 12 pt Courier font.  Easy peasy!  And if you’re doing scripts, with dialog, that’s approximately 3 to 4 pages (Don’t quote me, I may be wrong. I don’t write Scripts).

Are you confused yet?  Simply put, Camp NaNoWriMo is an easier, relaxed version of November’s event with a variable word count goal you set yourself and allowing for all types of writing, including scripts. It starts April 1st and ends at midnight April 30th.  There is also Camp in July with all the same rules if April doesn’t work out for you.

typewriter old

Will there be Write-Ins?  Funny you should ask.  Just yesterday your NaNo Co-ML, Pacifika (aka Patti Mitchell), sent me a text asking if it was too early to post write-ins for April’s Camp.  (She directed Script Frenzy for years and is fearlessly taking on Camp NaNo in its absence.)  “Of course not,” I answered, “but you get to run them!”  Therefore, keep your eyes on the SRW google calendar, viewable in the Spokane Regional forums here, for weekly write-ins.  Details for each will be posted there.

wild cat

Rebels?  Rebel status is conferred upon anyone who participates in Camp by writing something other than a fictional novel.  Be brave!  Write a script, edit a current Novel-in-Progress or finish your thesis for school.  You’ll be in good company.

book cupcakes

What’s this about cupcakes? I want one!  Me too, so make sure you come to our last write-in where we will celebrate winning!  And don’t forget to subscribe to this website.  Patti will be posting Camp themed pep talks and more details on how to get those elusive cupcakes!

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Guest Book Review “The Well-Spoken Thesaurus”

The Well-Spoken Thesaurus:  The Most Powerful Way to Say Everyday Words and Phrases, by Tom Heehler
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Studies have shown that common figures of speech have become so familiar to us that they have become semantically null — our brains tend to overlook clichés as meaningless noise and skip the informational content that might be contained therein.  From a writer’s point of view every word has relevance, but if the writer relies too heavily on phrases that are too familiar, the reader is in danger of missing much of what the writer is attempting to convey.  Every author needs (at least) a thesaurus in her tool-kit; but, as most readers can attest, an author who relies too heavily on a thesaurus for word choice can come off sounding pompous, pretentious our outdated.

Mr. Heehler’s “The Well-Spoken Thesaurus” is  broken into two major sections: A short “Rhetorical Form and Design” style guide and the larger thesaurus itself.

Presented in a series of short,lessons, Rhetorical Form and Design offers samples from 17 separate authors and  orators to showcase each rhetorical form.   Lesson 3 uses passages from Ernest Hemingway in discussing verb displacement.; and you will find  examples of objectification in the words and phrasing of Edith Wharton in Lesson  7.

Between the rhetorical lessons and the thesaurus you will find a brief discussion of the Seven Rhetorical Sins, again with examples from well-known authors (Steven King provides an example of cliché and a Jacqueline Susann passage shows why melodrama is to be avoided).   The cautionary tale of rhetorical devices to avoid is followed by a short how-to-use-this-book passage, explaining the differences  between this “rhetorical” thesaurus and more standard thesaurus, as well as offering some guidelines on how to best put the “Well -Spoken Thesaurus” to use.

The thesaurus entries comprise the bulk of this reference book and focuses not on a mere list of synonyms, but provides rhetorically related words that the author has coined as  “powernyms” which allow writers to use ordinary words in extraordinary ways.  Extraordinary language use does not often involve more flowery or formal language, but it does carefully present the words in a fashion that catch the reader’s imagination without causing them to stumble over obvious attempts to impress.  For example, instead of “might have been”  the thesaurus offers “might have proved.”  Replacing been with proved gives the reader a verb to grab on to that has a slightly richer flavor than the placeholder “be” verb, without pulling the reader out of the story to admire the word choice.  Mr. Heehler cautions against over-doing when editing for eloquence; suggesting that only one phrase per passage should be touched up, lest you run the risk of sounding pretentious.

For those who wish to extend their rhetorical range, the Well-Spoken Thesaurus is a good tool to start with, but I would also highly recommend learning at the feet of the masters   At the very least become familiar with some of the seventeen authors presented in the first section, not just to study  a phrase here and there, but to attune your eye and ear to excellent writing, and incorporate the best of each into your own experience.

Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

In light of the holiday,

we are taking a break from our normal Book Review/Guest Post

and offer you this instead.

How-are-you-writing

Courtesy of  

Help me Obi Wan…

notepadSo you’ve decided to join the ranks of S’more eating, sleep deprived, coffee guzzling (or tea, we don’t judge) campers. You’ve signed into the Camp NaNo website, dutifully filled out your profile and novel info, and requested your cabin mates. Your pen is full of ink, your laptop battery is full and you have a stack of notepads nearby. Now what?

There are still three weeks before you can start on that novel. Here are a few links to places that can help you whipkeep that excitement and motivation – well, at least the motivation.

1)      Write or Die: This lovely little evil program helps keep you typing by simply deleting words one letter at a time if you stop. Don’t worry, you get a warning first. Cost: free online version, or $10 donation for laptop download.

2)      750 Words: An online version of Morning Pages™, this nifty website rewards your daily writing with points and colorful, fun badges. The more points and consecutive days you write, the more badges. Beware, nothing is saved, so if you want to keep your words, type them somewhere else and copy/paste them to the website. Cost: free with registration.
* wikiHow.com has a simple 8-step guide to increasing your writing streak.

3)      Cara Michaels’ #WIP500: An honor system of tracking your words each day (500 is the goal), this website comes complete with Twitter and G+ encouragements. Cost: free with registration.

4)      Don’t Break the Chain!: A year-long calendar in pdf form, allowing for crossing off each day you complete your goal – whether that be writing, art, homework, etc., this calendar is very popular with many writers. Cost: free.

5)      WriteTrack: This is an online goal tracker. Input your start and stop dates, your goal/project name, and the total number of words. The program outputs the number of words per day needed to reach your goal in calendar form. Cost: free with registration.

typingIf it’s new programs you’re looking for to stave off the boredom of waiting, try out these:

1)      Liquid Story Binder: Similar to Scrivener™ in that it helps organize your work, LSB also is great for adding and keeping track of playlists, custom art and audio files. It even includes MindMapping. Available for Windows 8, 7, Vista & XP. Cost: Free 30-day trial; $45.95 for license.

2)      Writer’s Café: This European program can be run on Windows, Apple & Linux platforms. Word and Scrivener users will find it familiar. Cost: Free trial version; $40 license.

3)      iaWriter: A no-nonsense, no frills typing platform for Apple products. Available via the Apple store. Cost: $4.99 for laptops; $0.99 for iPads, iPhones.

Do you need prompts to get your pen moving?

Visit Write on Edge.  New inspirations are offered every Monday. Use one or pensboth, keeping under 500 words, then share (or not). You can read what other people have written if you’re stuck!

For chatter, join a G+ community, find inspiration on FaceBook or subscribe to our blog. We may not be your “…only hope,” but we do have extra tents. Just don’t ask to share our chocolate!

See you at Camp!

Hear ye! Hear ye!

Don’t forget!

Submissions are open for Volume II of … And Then What Happened?

We will accept flash-fiction, short stories, excerpts of longer work, poetry, writing-themed essays, and (black & white) photography and artwork.

Post questions and inquiries here, but please don’t post your submissions here — email spokanano@gmail.com to submit a piece to be considered for the 2013 anthology.