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    Five Days to 50,000 Words

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    In the spirit of National Novel Writing Month, a spirit in which there is no room for revision, just pure forward progress, I write to remind that November is one of those months with only 30 days. That leaves only five days, counting today. If you haven’t started, that’s 10,000 words a day.

    Oh, but it’ll be worth it.

    Send the kids away.

    Call in sick to work, then un-plug the phone.

    And whatever you do, do not think about Christmas, unless you are writing about Christmas.

    If you’ve tried all these distraction-elimination tactics already and are still having trouble spewing out your novel, there is still one more really good option: go to the library! Our NaNoWriMo table on the fourth floor of the Central branch sits waiting for you to take over. It's a really good place to get lost in a literary daze and if you encounter a stubborn block that requires research you can put a librarian to work on it while you plot your next chapter. Go team!

    For more inspiration, if you're looking to diversify your cast of characters, the people-watching around this area of the city is tremendous.

    And the NaNoWriMo table happens to be right next to the 4th floor’s local history room, so if your novel takes place close to home, you’ll have the best resources to dive into Calgary and Alberta history and create stunningly authentic settings. If local history is part of your fictional world, don't go anywhere without getting into the library's Community Heritage and Family History blog. It will be a field of gems and shiny diamonds for you but you can still read it wearing just slippers or bare-foot.

    I know you'll be too busy writing to pick up any books on how to focus on writing, but if you did, this one looks perfect:Your brain at work: strategies for overcoming distraction, regaining focus, and working smarter all day long. Click the cover to link to the catalogue.

    Endicott & Edugyan Live at Memorial Park

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    Marina Endicott

    Esi EdugyanThis Thursday, 7pm, Memorial Park Library will host quite an exciting author reading featuring two women who have compiled an amazing collection of hardware and nominations over recent years.

    Esi Edugyan, winner of the 2011 Giller Prize, will read from Half-Blood Blues. Marina Endicott will read from her new novel, The Little Shadows.

    Don't miss an opportunity to hear these two fantastic writers, both former Calgarians, share the podium. Come out and see how two of the very best do their thing.

    Presented in partnership with Pages Books on Kensington.

    Click here more information on Esi Edugyan's recent selection as the 2011 Giller Prize winner.

    Memorial Park Library is at 1221 2nd Street SW.

    Finding Your Voice

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    If you haven't had a chance to take advantage of the library's wonderful Writer-in-Residence services, tonight is your last chance to attend one of Naomi K. Lewis' writing workshops.

    It starts at 6pm at the beautiful Memorial Park library - 1221 2nd Street SW.

    Tonight's topic?

    Finding Your Voice...

    "...a workshop to explore the apprehensions and assumptions that bog down style. Participants will practice techniques to recognize and navigate around the most prevalent obstacles to authenticity."

    There will also be one more "TUESDAY NIGHT WRITE" on November 22, where you have a chance to join Naomi K. Lewis for one hour of prompted silent writing and one hour of discussion.

    These intimate opportunities to work with a professional writer only come once a year. Don't miss out!

    Click here for more information on Naomi K Lewis.

    Click here for the Nook's very own interview, posted two weeks ago.


    - 1 Comment(s)

    While the month of November is normally reserved for Winter preparations, growing moustaches, and remembering the men and women who sacrificed their lives to preserve the freedom we are so blessed to enjoy, it is also, apparently, “National Novel Writing Month” - NaNoWriMo.

    If the Labour Day weekend’s 3-day novel contest is a bit daunting for you, maybe 30 days (or nineteen, if you’re just hearing about NaNoWriMo today) sounds a bit more reasonable and appealing. But there’s no winning novel here, it’s all about the personal output, and the goal is 50,000 words – approximately 175 pages. And it’s also all about NOT looking back on your work to make revisions – just put your head down and produce 50,000 words of your novel before December 1st.

    Distractions, obviously, won’t be welcome in the face of this challenge. That’s why libraries all over the world are setting up special tables for NaNoWriMo novelists. If you do get stuck, the world of library writerly resources, and friendly staff, will be right there to help.

    Look for Calgary’s NaNoWriMo table on the 4th floor at Central.

    To register go to

    By creating an account, you will be provided the "support, encouragement, and good old-fashioned kick in the pants you need to write the rough draft of your novel in November."

    By creating an account you’ll be able to:

    • Plan your novel.
    • Join a local group of writers and attend in person writing events.
    • Receive online encouragement from staff and published authors.
    • Access a worldwide community of writers in our online forums

    Remember that if you've already got plans this month, there are eleven other months in the year in which writers are always welcome to use any table in the library to work on their novels, whether it takes 30 days or 30 years.

    7 Questions for Naomi K. Lewis

    by Philip - 0 Comment(s)

    The library’s current Writer-in-Residence Naomi K. Lewis recently took time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions for the Nook. Remember that if we didn’t ask the questions you might have asked her, there’s still time to submit a manuscript and book your own one-on-one consultation. Now here’s our little interview…

    To get some nuts & bolts out of the way… when, where, and with what do you write best?

    I write in fits and starts, especially when it comes to fiction. For long periods, I’ll have a few projects I’m thinking about. I write in a notebook when ideas occur to me, and do research, and let things brew at the back of my mind while I’m doing other kinds of work – the kind that pays the bills. Then I’ll become obsessed with one of the ideas I’ve been thinking about and will work on it eight to twelve hours a day for a few weeks, dream about it, wake up every morning and run to my computer to keep working.

    Who are your favorite writers? What are your favorite books?

    This changes for me all the time. I love short stories and I read a lot about psychology and philosophy. My favourite novels, that I never seem to get sick of, are probably Pale Fire by Nabakov, and Invisible by Paul Auster. I also love Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel The Unconsoled, which most people seem to hate. But my own writing is nothing like those, really. I’m probably not smart enough to write something that resembles my favourite books.

    You’re stranded on a deserted island with only one book to keep you company, what is it?

    Wilderness Survival for Dummies, of course. And a blank notebook with pen, so I can make notes for the book I’ll write after I’m rescued.

    If you are working on fiction for a long time do you find it difficult to go back to a non-fiction project? What about non-fiction to fiction?

    No, I don’t find it hard to switch between genres. I like to have multiple projects on the go, so when I burn out on one, I can work on something else. I like them to be as different as possible. That said, I actually find that writing non-fiction is remarkably similar to writing fiction – though much easier. In a way, I don’t really care what I’m writing, as long as it’s something I can sink my teeth into. Coming up with ideas is always much harder and agonizing for me than actually doing the work.

    Click here for the library's Writer-in-Residence program.

    Click here for Naomi's homepage.

    As a teacher, editor, consultant, ghost-writer, and of course, writer (and Writer-in-Residence at the library), I was wondering if you might have any time management tips for the busy writer?

    I think everyone’s different in this respect, but I find it helpful to write down what I’m going to do every day and take regular breaks instead of trying to power through. I need plenty of exercise, or I get anxious and spend hours staring at my screen in a panic. I have a close friend who’s a professor and so also very self-directed, and we often start our days by setting goals together over Skype. Sometimes, when one or both of us is having trouble focusing, we set 20-minute goals and keep reporting back to each other.

    Here at the ‘Nook, I like to say that Writers’ Block doesn’t exist, because the cure is the library – a place for research, inspiration, and guidance – but hypothetically, if writer’s block does exist, how do you handle it?

    Work on something else. For a couple of years, I was trying to write my second novel and had terrible writers’ block – but in the course of procrastinating, I wrote enough short stories for a collection, and ghostwrote a memoir. It’s funny, because the whole time I was miserable, saying things like, “I’ll never write again,” because I wasn’t working on that one project I’d decided was going to make or break me. I’ve never experienced an inability to write anything at all, but if I did, I’d see at as a sign that I needed a break. Maybe I’d get a job doing something else for a while, and try not to worry about it. I know a lot of people say you just have to force yourself to keep producing, but I really believe we’re writing even when we’re just thinking, or walking, or staring into space. If you’re not actually putting words on paper, your brain’s just gearing up, chewing things over, somewhere in its recesses.

    What’s the best advice you can offer to Calgary’s aspiring writers?

    Read a lot. Write a lot. Listen. Carry a notebook. Go to places where writers hang out. Take a creative writing class. Don’t expect to ever make any money at writing. But especially, read a lot and write a lot. This seems obvious, but I think it’s worth saying repeatedly – the more you write, the more skilled you’ll become.

    Click book cover to find Cricket in a Fist in the library catalogue.

    Upcoming Writer-in-Residence programs & events:

    November 5: Bringing Your Characters to Life: Teen Writing Workshop

    November 8: Tuesday Night Write: Stretching your writer's voice

    November 17: Finding Your Voice (Workshop)