Tag: writing


Sunday Salon: “Yeah, Keep Ranting. We Know Who’s Really Doing the Planting”

Posted 24 January, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, memes

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Time //  11:46 A.M. EDT

Happenings // I’ve been dealing with a lot of family/childrearing drama. See my Open Letter to Nameless Atlanta-Metro Montessori, but I think that nightmare has run itself down. Thank goodness.

Thinking // About the community. I’m coming up on almost three years of book blogging. Of course I’ve been blogging since, ’99 or 2000 using sites like Xanga, Livejournal, and Deadjournal respectively. I suspect I’m not alone in having been a personal blogger long before becoming a book blogger. In fact I know I’m not alone (hi Monika!!).

There’s been a lot of Twitter chatter and subtweets that seem to be floating around that, whether their authors intend so or not, make the authors themselves seem like crotchety old hens (or cocks). I don’t understand the need for these people to tear down “new” bloggers through subtweets on how wrong they’re doing things. Whether it’s what we choose to read, how we choose to set up our blogs, or whatever I just wonder why people concern themselves with so much of it.

Can we also talk about // how it’s okay to write about things that have already been written about before? Everything under the sun has been done once or twice before, so why do we take the dismissive attitude of ‘been there done that’ when another blogger brings up a discussion point? My personal bugaboo is when people dismiss discussions on plagiarism, but that’s not the only thing that we tend to get dismissive of.

Subtweeting // Drives me battyI know, let he without sin… etc. But there are those out there who do it way more than others almost whimsically. If there are posts that bug us so much why are we taking the time to read them, let alone subtweet about them? Why not leave a constructive comment on the post and let the person know how we feel? What’s the use of subtweeting?

Yes. I see the irony that there are those who will view this post as a massive subtweet – but I’ll go ahead and tell you right now, I’m not talking about any one person, or any groups of people – I’m just putting this out there for everyone’s consideration.

Look // I’m not the blogging police, nor do I have the time, energy, or inclination to be. I just don’t understand why we can’t be decent to one another.

Well, that’s all she wrote, Reader. I’m done with the ranting. Admittedly I’ve been less than active in the community lately, but the cracks seem to be widening and I wish there were a way to reverse it.

April

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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That Obligatory ‘How My Reading Year Went’ Post

Posted 2 January, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in musings

‘Tis the season! I don’t do my ‘best of’ list until June… because you’re all sick to death of best of’s… plus it gives me some more time to read some 2015 titles… win win for everyone. However, it is time for the obligatory post on how my reading year went. So without further ado, let’s discuss our wins and losses.

Goodreads

After the epic failure of 2014, I kept my goals simple and only participated in my own self imposed Goodreads challenge, which I almost didn’t make… but did! (Thanks to Joe Hill’s graphic novel series Locke & Key, which is amazing and you should read, like, yesterday.)

  • Goal set 1 January 2015: 105 books. I can’t find a page goal that I set.
    • Actually read: 109 books, 38,690 pages

reading goal

So let’s break it down a little more!

Source

source of books

Oooo. Girl. Nothing to be proud of here.

  • 21 galleys (19.3%)
  • 4 purchased from a brick and mortar new bookstore (3.7%)
  • 9 received as gifts (8.3%)
  • SIXTY SEVEN (67) purchased through Amazon (61.5%)
  • 8 checked out from the library (7.4%)

Page count breakdown

Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 11.57.01 PM

Enough said, I think. I like books that are about in the 350 page range.

Nationality of Author

author books

Yeahhhh… it’s pretty apparent I read primarily US and UK authors. I put in a special category for Australian authors because I felt like I was reading a lot of Aussie Lit…. I guess not…

Gender of Authors

author gender

So this year I read more men than women, which is unusual for me… the ‘MF’ category is for things like anthologies which have both men and women writing in them.

How I Read

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 12.05.06 AM

I will not be ashamed!!! I love my Kindle and I will not lie. This is perhaps a new record for me in the number of audiobooks that I’ve listened to in a year, but I’ve done a lot of commuting… and my job is mentally demanding, so sometimes instead of reading with my eyes before I go to sleep, reading with my ears is easier.

  • 23 galley books (mostly e-Galleys)… (21.1%)
  • 10 paperbacks (9.2%)
  • 11 hardcovers (10%)
  • 42 e-Books (not including e-Galleys) (38.5%)
  • 23 audiobooks (21.1%)

et cetera

I only read eight books towards my 1001 Books project. One book at a time I suppose…

I contributed and helped to found the fabulous Socratic Salon. I kept up with the best four goddamned book bloggers that I know… (Catherine, Jennifer, Monika, and Shannon), I got a little out of the game after I got a job… but no one holds that against me… I think. One of my best good friends from college, Heather, got into the book blogging sphere (though I’ve sucked at getting to her site and commenting and supporting her …. but…. yeahhhhh #NoExcuse)

But… overall… it’s been a good bookish year!

How was your bookish reading year, Reader? Have I alienated you by not coming by your blog enough? By not blogging on my own enough? Help me try to improve myself! I love each and every one of you that takes the time to read this little ongoing project of mine. 2+ years in the making, I can hardly believe it. Tell me about you!

I love you all!

April

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Stephen King: A Primer

Posted 31 October, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Authors

Stephen Edwin King. Born in Portland, Maine on September 21, 1947. He and his wife Tabitha, own two residences in Maine and also owns property in Sarasota, Florida. May be considered by Floridians as a ‘snow bird’.

He is the undisputed master of horror, taking on the genre and breathing new life into it with his first novel Carrie in 1974. Less than a year later the veritable ‘Salem’s Lot was published. ‘Salem’s Lot is still hailed as a fantastic novel in the vampire sub-genre.

This Constant Reader first discovered Stephen King as a part of her father’s library with the novel Cujo. I was 11. I never looked back, my days with Nancy Drew and The Babysitter’s Club were over.

King has three distinct periods of his writing. His early career spans from Carrie in 1974 until The Dark Half in 1989. During the 1980’s King admittedly had a serious drug and alcohol problem until his friends and family staged an intervention, dumping evidence of his addiction in front of him. King agreed to seek help and has been sober since 1990. His early career is characterized by easily recognizable monsters such as Kurt Barlow in ‘Salem’s Lot, Pennywise in It, Randall Flagg in The Stand. Admittedly this is a vast oversimplification of King’s early works, but in general one can see the distinction.

The second period of King’s writing begins in 1990 with Needful Things, his first novel written in sobriety and ends with the vehicle accident that almost claimed his life in 1999. King’s ‘sobriety period’ is recognizable by a shift from outright ‘balls to the wall’ horror to something more subtle and closer to home. Rose Madder deals with domestic violence, though often overlooked by fans AND critics there were many individuals that came forward during a Reddit AMA that King did recently praising the strength and realness of the characters and stating that the novel was instrumental in helping abused readers realize they could get out of their situation. The Green Mile, which was originally published in serial format (more on writing gimmicks and innovations later on) deals with capital punishment and the reality that the American justice system sometimes executes innocent men and women. Most of King’s novels in this ‘sober period’ retain an element of supernatural and horror, but the monster is quieter and closer to home than most of us feel comfortable with.

In 1999, King was walking along the side of Route 5 in Lovell, Maine when he was struck from behind by a minivan. The driver was distracted by an unrestrained dog in the back and was not drunk or otherwise incapacitated. His injuries were severe, including a punctured lung, shattered hip and leg. King purchased the wreckage of the minivan to avoid parts of it from showing up on eBay. He also expressed a desire to smash up the van with a sledgehammer. It was crushed in a junkyard before he had the opportunity to do so.

By 2000 King was back to work on his memoir On Writing, despite being able to sit for periods of only about forty minutes without pain. On Writing is an invaluable source to burgeoning writers and Stephen King fangirls alike. From 2000 to present King’s work (for the most part) have become even more subdued. Though books like Cell hearken back to the gore and horror of his early works, there’s something different, more nuanced about it. Duma Key, Lisey’s Story, and Under the Dome, are all still steeped in the supernatural but also very character-centric.

For this Constant Reader, 11/22/63 (2011) was a return to King’s heyday. Combining time travel with specific rules and deep personal connections, King crafts a story of a man who goes back in time to stop the assassination of JFK. It sounds hokey, but in the hands of the master it’s a compelling, deeply moving tale. His most recent novel Doctor Sleep, the much anticipated sequel to The Shining is a brilliant blend of the old and new King warm, yet scary, and yes, I just took a 12 hour car trip. and eyed every single RV with suspicion.

Finally there is King’s magnum opus. The Dark Tower it spans all of his works and worlds. Beginning with The Gunslinger in 1982, Roland and his ka-tet, Eddie, Susannah, and Jake travel mid-land through eight books in search of the Tower. It’s a brilliant blend of fantasy, spaghetti westerns, horror, and a touch of science fiction. Space between the worlds are thin. It’s a long strange ride that’s so satisfying, after finishing the last novel The Dark Tower (2004) I immediately wanted to start again with The Gunslinger. Theses will be written on this work. I’ll spare you, for now.

Stephen King keeps himself relevant in kind of the same way that Cher and Madonna do – except that it seems he actually has it easier. But that’s what I like about Stephen King, he keeps re-inventing himself and his works and has delved into almost every ‘literary’ medium conceivable, even though he doesn’t have to. The Green Mile released as six serial novellas in 1996 are an example of the ways King is always trying to get to new readers. He’s always been interested in film and often cameos in the movie adaptations of his books. He collaborated with John Mellencamp for the musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County which is currently touring! He released one of the original Kindle Singles with a delightful little piece entitled ‘UR’ when the Kindle 2 was launched in 2009.  He had a small guest role on Sons of Anarchy last season.

The best thing about Stephen King? He seems like a pretty awesome person. He does a lot of grassroots charity things like giving to local libraries, using his fame and money to do good things within his own community. He chooses to use his voice in a constructive manner to promote literacy. His essay Guns is easily one of the most rational and poignant pieces of commentary we have about the U.S. gun debate. Also, he loves to write. The fact that he writes because its his passion is inspiring to me everyday. How are we so lucky to have Stephen King as a national treasure?

Tabitha. It’s a great love story. From her pulling the first pages of Carrie out of the trash and encouraging him to keep going, to her threatening to leave and take the kids if he didn’t sober up when he was a millionaire it seems like she’s always been there by his side. So, thank you Tabitha King. Now I must go and rectify a problem that I am ashamed has gone on too long. I must read a Tabitha King novel.

Trivia
Loves the Red Sox, but always takes a book to the games.
Was in a rock band with Amy Tan and other literary giants. The Rock Bottom Remainders
Everything about Richard Bachmann.

May I also suggest you take a look at the piece from the New York Times entitled King’s Family Business?

Happy Halloween, Reader!

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Sunday Salon: Where I’ve Been Busy

Posted 11 October, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging

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Time // 9:30 AM EDT

Excuses // I’ve been away for a hot minute y’all. Which I know is what I say in every Sunday Salon post that I write after a prolonged absence. I’m clearly not blogging, I’m not doing much reading anything that requires my eyes, but what am I doing you might ask? Moving, working, general adulting. I refuse to join the cult of busy for the sake of busy… but I’ve been busy.

The House // Is moved into and in order. Painters are coming tomorrow on the U.S.’s ‘Subjugation of Indigenous Populations Day‘ I mean, Columbus Day. But since it’s a federal holiday and I work for the county, I will work on this most noble of holidays. (I mean seriously, how come we haven’t done away with Columbus Day yet? I don’t get it.) Anyway.

Work // Is what is keeping me away.

Exhibit A: My Active Caseload

Exhibit A: My Active Caseload

I know that John Oliver (who I adore) did a whole segment about the problems we have in the U.S. with the lack of public defenders — and I agree, but I really felt that the segment was one sided. It’s true that 90 – 95% of cases will plead out before going to trial and while I am in whole-hearted agreement that there are people who are unfairly targeted by the police and who are indeed innocent of the crimes they have been arrested/indicted/accused of – I’ve also seen enough evidence, even in the backwoods south that many that plea out are guilty of what they’ve been charged with. The unfortunate truth is that the U.S. justice system would collapse without plea bargaining, we don’t have the infrastructure or the manpower for every case to go to trial. Right, wrong, or otherwise – this is the case. I’m not claiming our system is perfect, but to paraphrase Winston Churchill, it’s the worst justice system in the world, except for all the rest.

Lately // I did finally start Furiously Happy and it’s furiously amazing. AnnaSaurus Rex and I went to see Jenny Lawson read and get book signed and I had her sign as Stephen King just like last time. I’m still wending my way through Rev. Weber-Bolz’s essays in Accidental Saints. Expect a write-up soon on how fabulous she was to meet again.

Next Up // I’m going to start Fates and Furies as soon as I finish off these two essay collections. That’s coming up for Socratic Salon pretty soon.

Playing // Deck building games! Largely on my iPhone. Anyone play Tanto Cuore, Penny Arcade: The Game, or Dominion? If so – hit me up, I’m often looking for a game!

Okay, it took me all day to write this post, Readers. How was your week?

April

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Finishing May

Posted 1 June, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, musings

Finishing May

 

I managed to eke out eight books in May. Three re-reads, two audio, four ARCs.

A few for The Socratic Salon, a few for my own personal edification, and a few because they’d been sitting around long enough that I felt they needed to be read, reviewed and ditched. It’s a tough call between Girl at War and The Shore for the best book of the month, but I think ultimately, for me – it has to go to The Shore. Both were brilliant debuts, don’t miss either.

Planning

I think I’m going to listen to the entire Dark Tower series on audio. I read it years ago and have been meaning to re-visit it for awhile. So why not now? Why not audio? The narration on The Gunslinger was decent and I’m probably halfway in to The Drawing of the Three.

Feeling

May has been a bit slumpy with blogging and with life. I hope to see that pick up in June but there’s much going on and parts of me are having a hard time finding joy in anything. (Cue the Abilify commercial.)

The U.S. Supreme Court… failed to really clarify anything in the realm of internet threats today with it’s ruling Elonis v. U.S.which is disappointing but seems to be on par for the Court this term. Basically, the opinion stated that it’s not enough for prosecutors to show negligence with regards to internet threats, but the state must show some sort of ‘mental state’ for the speech to be criminal. It’s quite a crazy case, with Elonis having made threats on Facebook to kill his wife, federal agents, and a classroom full of kindergarteners. Free speech, it’s a fine fine line sometimes.

I’ve got nothing else, Reader. How was your May?

April

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Monday Musings: Three Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Blogging

Posted 4 May, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in musings

life lessons

I’ve been blogging fairly strong for about a year and a half now. By no means does this make the the expert at anything – but I like to think that some experiences are universal (at least among book bloggers or bloggers in general) and thought that I’d put some things I’d learned out there in the blogosphere.

1. Find your people.

Sure, the community as a whole in book blogging is pretty great, but sometimes there are going to be bumps in the road with that community. I think that if you can find the people you can bitch and rage to safely and privately you can save yourself a lot of unnecessary drama by getting those feelings out somewhere safe and private rather than doing things like vague-tweeting and word vomiting all the feelings up on social media.

2. Be yourself.

There’s nothing worse than an inauthentic blog and it’s usually pretty easy to pick out those blogs. Not only do I have little desire to visit a blog that feels inauthentic, it leaves me to wonder what the person is trying to do, and why? For most of us I think that blogging is a hobby – if you keep your authentic voice we’re all going to have a better time. Which leads me to…

3. Do it for yourself.

If you’re not having fun, what’s the point? What’s worse is that sometimes your audience can tell you’re not having fun which may push casual readers away. Try to keep in mind this is (probably) a hobby and the only person you really have to make sure is pleased with your finished product is you. Massive page hits and going viral is great – but the satisfaction that you get from writing for yourself can actually be even better in the long run.

While I’ve applied all of this directly to blogging, I think I’ve learned some pretty valuable life advice from blogging. What about you, Reader? If you’re a blogger have you learned anything deep and important from doing it? If you’re a reader, what do you get out of reading blogs? 

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April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Sunday Salon: The One Where ALL THE THINGS ARE HAPPENING

Posted 22 March, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, books and publishing, memes, Reading

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Time // 9:08 EDT

Place // As if you had to ask, couch perch.

Stuff // TONS of things coming up/happening. Let’s take them one at a time.

The Socratic Salon

 

The Socratic Salon

A collaborative project between me, Monika at Lovely Bookshelf, Catherine at The Gilmore Guide to Books, Shannon at River City Reading, and Jennifer at The Relentless Reader. It’s a new bookish community where our goal is to engender deeper discussions into the books that we read. The site launches in earnest tomorrow (teaser today!) and we’re aiming for our first discussion, on Hausfrau, to go live on Wednesday. Keep your eyeballs peeled because you are probably the most important part of this collaborative effort. (Click on the picture or the title to get to the site.)

 

cloudatlasalong

 

#CloudAtlasAlong

Go get your copy now, because Katie at Bookish Tendencies and I are about to get this ball rolling! You can find the tentative schedule for our fabulous readalong of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas on Katie’s blog here. Can’t wait for you all to join us!

 

Bloggiesta

Bloggiesta

Last but not least, Bloggiesta starts next week. Despite my busy work schedule and all the other stuff happening I’d like to take part as much as I can. So. Goals.

  • Keep plugging my old reviews into the UBB plug-in.
  • Get a few posts written so I have stuff in the queue.
  • Tweak the theme as necessary.
  • Work on some posts for The Socratic Salon with my co-founders
  • Make it to a few Twitter chats!
  • Take a peek at some mini-challenges that might do me some good.
  • Disable Bloglovin’ from posting on Twitter.
  • Backup the blog.
  • Check out and make sure that the blog is interacting with other social media platforms correctly.

 

Whew! I told you there was a lot going on. How’s your week looking, Reader?

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April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Groundhog Day Giveaway! That’s Paris Anthology

Posted 2 February, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in books and publishing

Today is (the Kindle edition) release day for That’s Paris: Life, Love, and Sarcasm in the City of Light! Let me tell you, it’s a fabulous compilation that will make you both laugh and cry. The array of talented authors contributing to this anthology can be found at Velvet Morning Press, the brain-child of Vicki Lesage and Adria J. Cimino, both talented authors (and contributors!).
Oh! Who else do I spot on the list of contributors? Gee whiz! That’s ME! Also, a nice G-rated piece from our very own AnnaSaurus Rex (go see her podcast, Type Omaha, while you’re in the mood for travel). While Anna and I are both readers, not writers — I assure you the level of professionalism and excellent writing in this anthology is extraordinarily wonderful. 
It should also be mentioned that all author proceeds from this anthology go to charity! Room to Read will benefit from every sale of this book! How awesome is Velvet Morning Press? One more thing I have to mention before we get to the giveaway is that Allison from The Book Wheel is also working with Velvet Morning Press creating an anthology Legacy with submissions from the authors that participated in the fabulous 30 Authors event back in September. So lots of good stuff coming soon! 
So, the giveaway! I’m giving away one hard copy of That’s Paris (U.S. only) and one Kindle edition (Open internationally!). I’ll even inscribe the hard copy if you like. 😉 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Bloggers Behaving Badly: Plagiarism Edition

Posted 30 December, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, musings

 

2014 seems to have been a banner year for celebrities and authors behaving badly. But there’s not a whole lot that we as bloggers and consumers can do about that except for perhaps abstaining from purchasing their books and availing ourselves of their particular brand of entertainment. We can also be vocal on social media and spread awareness, which is important, but the actions of others is always ultimately beyond our control. 

 
What we can control as bloggers is what we do. Lately I’ve been seeing a rash of complaints from various bloggers about being plagiarized by other bloggers. This, to me, is one of the seven deadly sins of blogging. (Don’t ask me about the other six, I haven’t invented them yet.)  
 
The book blogging community is a relatively small one. The book blogging community outside of YA bloggers is smaller yet. Most of us do this out of a love of literature and reading, the monetary rewards that we reap from our blogs are minimal at best. So it boggles the mind why one blogger would steal content from another. I’m not talking about reblogging or using content with permission. I’m not talking about using ideas from other bloggers, such as interesting takes on year end lists or discussion posts. I’m talking about subversively taking content from a blog and hoping to pass it off as your own work. 
 
Whether it’s a sentence or an entire review, plagiarism is plagiarism and quite frankly it saddens me to see such things happening in our community. If you don’t enjoy writing your blog enough to generate your own content, then perhaps you should turn your energies to another enterprise that is better suited to your interests and talents. Perhaps you shouldn’t be blogging. 
 
Another ill-effect of plagiarism on the whole of the book blogging community is to undermine our power and give further reason for the ‘establishment’ (see: publishers) not to take us seriously as a voice. I know it’s a variation on an old theme of mine – but if we want to be taken seriously it is imperative that we act like we want to be taken seriously as a community. (I know, this is coming from the girl that publishes weird erotica reviews on her blog, but still…) 
 
So what do I do if I’ve been plagiarized?** 
I’ve never (to the best of my knowledge) been plagiarized and I’m no expert in copyright law. But Allison at The Book Wheel has had the unfortunate experience of having 30 – 40 posts stolen from her and she has provided me with a few practical things that you can do in the event that this happens to you.

  • Email the blogger in question. Sternly worded emails can be very effective. By sternly worded I mean stern not insane. Calling names probably won’t get you anywhere, you should be firm but polite. The plagiarism probably isn’t a mistake, but sometimes when called out personally, people will take down or change the language in their posts. Ciska at Ciska’s Book Chest reminds us that when sending the email, no matter what the response is, to remember that you are in the right.
  • Contact Google. Google is not cool with plagiarism. Contact them and they will remove the site from their search engine. No one wants their SEO affected that way.
  • Contact the authors/publishers of any book involved. Name names here. This can be an especially harmful action against people who rely heavily on ARCs/galleys. Inform the publisher that the blogger is not publishing their own review.
  • Contact the plagiarizing blogger’s host, if relevant. Wordpress definitely has a clause within its user agreement that prohibits plagiarism of any kind. Other hosts are likely to have similar clauses. This could result in having the entire account suspended.
  • Contact a digital content lawyer. Obviously this is going to depend on how badly you were ripped off on whether you want to go this route (along with your own finances and how much it really matters to you) but there are experts in the field that will tell you whether you have a case and if you want to pursue it. I’m withholding my own ‘legal thoughts’ on this subject because I am far from an expert. 
So, what about you, Reader? Have you ever had content stolen? What have you done about it? Any further advice here? (Also, Happy New Year if you’re over the International Date Line!) 
 
 
 
 
 
**I am not providing legal advice here, nor should this be substituted as such.

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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NaNoWriMo: Passing on the Wisdom

Posted 19 November, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in

NaNoWriMo is in full swing by now. While I’m not participating this year, I did last year, and it just felt like a waste not to share whatever wisdom (if you want to call it that) which I gleaned from the event last year to those participating this year. 

So, enjoy!
NaNoWriMo: Early Surprises
NaNoWriMo: Week Two
Wrapping up NaNoWriMo 2013

To all those participating, congratulations, you’re already attempting something extraordinarily difficult. For me, it pulled on my very soul. Please, leave tips here if you have any or feel free to comment on any of the posts! Good luck!

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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