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NaNoWriMo

Noodles at the Wall: Getting Started When You Have Absolutely No Ideas at All 
by Elizabeth

‘Twas three days after NaNo, and in the library, 
some fast-tapping typists were feeling quite wary. 
“I’m supposed to have how many words?” they all sighed. 
“But I have no clue what to write, there’s no time!” 
Some writers had ideas but still felt a fright 
when faced with so many words day and night. 
Others suffered from dreaded writer's block, 
and wanted a nice nap to lessen the shock. 
“50,000’s too many!” “My ideas are too few!” 
Writers all around had no clue what to do. 
Then from the Aurora blog, a voice rang loud: 
“Don’t worry! Cheating is DEFINITELY allowed.” 
“I’ve here without characters, setting, or plot, 
but that’s not gonna stop me. Guess what I HAVE got?” 
And with that, the blog shared five quick writing tricks 
to help get a story moving lightning-quick! 


When it comes to NaNoWriMo, I never have a plan.  

I wish that I were one of the writers with pages of careful outlining, character charts, fascinating plot twists I’m longing to explore. Most years, I’m the writer who, three days after the month starts, looks at their calendar and squawks in dismay. I don’t know why I panic every year if this is what I DO every year, but it always feels like there are no more stories left in the well, like every creative brain cell vanished the instant November started. 

This year’s even worse than normal: I’m worn out, and every fiction I write seems less strange than what’s happening in the world outside my window. Maybe it’s like that for you too? If this is your first year dealing with the dreaded NaNo Starter’s Block, don’t worry: here are five tricks I’ve used to start stories in previous years, and I hope one of them works for you. 

The Best Thing That Could Possibly Happen 
Have you ever played TBT? No, not Throwback Thursday: The Best Thing game! It’s a cure for sad days and sadder stories: sit, breathe and think of the Best Thing that could possibly happen to turn this day around. Maybe someone delivers a cupcake to your doorstep. Maybe you win the lottery; maybe you find that lost phone number you’ve been hunting for all weekend. The key is that the story can’t just be one event. This isn’t “A Good Thing Happens,” this is the best thing. That means it’s going to ripple outward, changing more small things in its wake: maybe that phone number belongs to a long-lost friend or a cute barista, maybe the lottery is just what you need to put a down payment on a house.  

Transformation’s a key element of stories and a great starting point for something miraculous. There are several excellent stories that start with The Best Thing That Could Possibly Happen. Children desperate to avoid growing up meet a magical spirit who can take them to Neverland. A poor teenager finds a map to Treasure Island. If you’re feeling dark, you can also start a story with the WORST thing that could possibly happen: what if your uncle threw your dad off a cliff, then blamed you for it and banished you from the Pride Lands? Whichever road you choose, dramatic change will always act as a catalyst for a story. 

No Resemblance to Persons Living or Dead 
Think about the people in your life. They’re interesting, right? You wouldn’t be friends (or enemies!) with them if they weren’t. You can probably think right now of some of their quirks: how your best friend starts sentences three times when he’s nervous, the way your cousin gets excited when talking about efficient work practices, how that one colleague in the Zoom call always forgets to mute their mic. You probably know some secrets, too, or some wild stories: I’m fairly sure my closest friends could pick me out even if I shape-shifted into someone completely different, because they know my mannerisms that well.  

Well, these are your people, right? You know them, you love them. So combine them. Take two or three of the people you know, squish them together, and make them a new character. Add a few of these combos and you’ve populated a world. If you steal from your friends, steal responsibly, of course! Don’t cast them in a role they hate! Stephen King’s preferred method of writing is to throw two interesting people in a room together and see what they do: strong enough personalities can make even trips to the grocery store interesting. (And come on: if you’ve assembled a bed from IKEA, you KNOW how interesting “two people in a room” can get.)  

Instant Story, Just Add Dragons 
Okay, it doesn’t have to be dragons! Picture your favorite book. What if you changed the genre? Try to rephrase the book’s premise to incorporate a different genre. Neil Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book” is just a spooky ghost retelling of “The Jungle Book”. Who can forget “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” or Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Hamlet? You don’t have to go with classics, either: try taking an incident that happened to you in real life and teleporting it into the past. What would baking a cake look like in Victorian England?  

Hey, Cheaper Than Therapy 
You know that haunting feeling? The pervasive feeling of existential dread, the quiet grief of a decaying friendship, the gnawing hunger for a chocolate chip cookie? (Okay. Maybe not that last one.) Humans are complicated, and most of us have emotions bouncing around inside all day long, going unexamined. Why not turn them into a story? If you’ve already examined all of your life’s hardships, even better: it’ll be so much easier to retell them in fiction. Change the names, and who’s to say your life’s memoir isn’t total fiction?  

Noodles at the Wall 
None of these sound ideal? No problem. When you’re cooking pasta, you can tell it’s done one of two ways: you can taste the noodle, checking to see if it’s al dente, or you can throw a noodle at the wall and see if it sticks. One of these methods is more reliable than the other. The other is undoubtedly more fun. Pick a broad category – food, clothes, recreation, jobs – and set a timer for ten minutes. Freewrite everything you can think of about that topic. It doesn’t matter what you write, it doesn’t matter if it’s good. You’re not writing fiction right now, you’re brainstorming. Just keep your hands moving. 

When you’re done writing those words, read through what you’ve just written. One of the sentences should feel stickier than the others. Maybe it bothers you; maybe you want to say more about it, or maybe you believe it more than you’ve ever believed anything in your life. Great. That’s the first sentence of your first chapter. Copy it into a new document and keep going. 

Thanks for joining the Aurora Library for our writing tips! I hope they were helpful! 

And you heard a voice say, as you closed the website, 
“Happy writing to all! It’ll turn out alright!” 

Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org  On Nov 03, 2020 at 2:58 PM 1 Comment
  
Read It!

Family Book Club


Out of My Shell

"Out of My Shell" by Jenny Goebel is our Family Book Club pick for November!

"Out of My Shell" Suggested Reading Schedule:
- Monday, Nov. 2 - Sunday, Nov. 8: Chapters 1 - 5
- Monday, Nov. 9 - Sunday, Nov. 15: Chapters 6 - 11
- Monday, Nov. 16 - Sunday, Nov. 22: Chapters 12 - 17
- Monday, Nov. 23 - Monday, Nov. 30: Chapters 18 - 23
Check our blog every Monday for discussion questions as you read!

Copies of "Out of My Shell" are available at Tallyn's Reach Library and Jefferson County Public Libraries and unlimited eAudiobooks are available via hoopla digital - free with your library card!

Join Aurora Public Library and Jefferson County Public Library for a live Q&A with author Jenny Goebel on Tuesday, Dec. 1 at 5 p.m. via Zoom! Register here.

Virtual Visit with Author
Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org  On Nov 02, 2020 at 1:28 PM
  
Create It!

Create It! Leaf Bowl
by Karen

It's #MakeItMonday! Bring the autumn outdoors indoors with this fun DIY leaf bowl tutorial - a perfect place for candy or decor!

Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org  On Nov 02, 2020 at 1:10 PM
  

(November 1) On Sunday, November 1, 2020, at approximately 9:00 a.m., Aurora police officers responded to a single vehicle rollover crash involving a gray 2003 Ford Expedition containing six total occupants.

 

The driver of the Expedition exited eastbound Interstate 70 (I-70) onto northbound Pena Boulevard failing to safely negotiate the curve on the Pena Boulevard flyover above I-70. This caused the Expedition to leave the roadway rolling down an embankment ejecting five of the six passengers. The expedition came to a final resting place south of I-70 near a drainage canal.

 

All six occupants were transported to area hospitals where a 56-year-old male passenger was pronounced deceased. The identity of the deceased will be released by the Adams County Coroner’s Office after positive identification and next-of-kin notifications have been made.

 

At this time investigators believe alcohol and drugs contributed to this fatal crash. This investigation is still active and on-going, and appropriate charges will be filed against the driver at the conclusion of the fatal traffic crash investigation. Until then, the identity of the driver will not be released. 


We are asking anyone who may have witnessed this crash, has dash cam footage, or if you have any information about this incident, please contact the Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at 720.913.STOP (7867).

Officer Crystal McCoy
Public Information Officer
Aurora Police Department
720.432.5095

Posted by ckmccoy@auroragov.org  On Nov 01, 2020 at 4:59 PM
  
by Megan

Ofrenda at MLK

If you stop by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library (MLK), you’ll see a special Dia de los Muertos ofrenda created by our staff.  In Latinx tradition, Dia de los Muertos, observed Nov. 1 - 2, celebrates the life, memories and experiences of those who have passed away. The ofrenda is a richly colored altar steeped in symbolism, including personal touches from our MLK staff.

The ofrenda symbolizes a journey for the spirits of the dead.  Some ofrendas will have a pathway of marigold petals leading up to its base, forming a pathway for the spirits, so they can find their way to their family’s altar.  Each tier of the MLK ofrenda represents a step on the spiritual journey, beginning with Purgatory at the bottom. On the next step you’ll find images of various saints that had special meaning in life to those have passed.  You’ll also find sweet treats and favorite foods or drinks of the deceased on the steps of the ofrenda. Our staff member Marta shared that she places chicken noodle soup on her ofrenda at home in honor and celebration of many wonderful memories with her grandmother. 

On a step above the food you’ll find photos and pictures of the family members remembered each year. You may also find favorite toys or other items that held special meaning to those who have died. In this way, the living can honor the memories of those who have gone before and celebrate the times they shared together in life. The MLK ofrenda holds photographs of our staff member Israel’s parents and his wife’s uncle, and we’re honored that Israel and his wife have shared their family with us.

Throughout the ofrenda you may also notice salt, candles and fantastical creatures called alebrijes.  The salt is sprinkled to purify the spirit on its journey, while the candles light the way, and alebrijes (spirit animals) help guide the souls of the departed back to heaven. The final tier, at the top of the ofrenda, is the Virgin Mary, who guides the departed through the arch and back to heaven after their journey to visit their living families.

To learn more about Dia de los Muertos, stop by the MLK library to see the beautiful ofrenda and ask staff your questions. Or, if you’re unable to visit, Ask a Librarian, and we can find just the right books for you!

Ofrenda at MLK
Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org  On Nov 01, 2020 at 7:37 AM
  
Purple flames reveal tiny creatures, but what are they? Shadows in the Neighborhood.

"Shadows in the Neighborhood" was submitted by Mattix, Harry, Rachel and Dain, who wrote the story together as a family, each taking turns to add what came next. Congratulations to our winning Scary Stories in the Stacks submission!

Get in the spooky spirit and watch all Scary Stories in the Stacks here.

Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org  On Oct 30, 2020 at 11:03 AM
  
What happens when the storyteller is forced into the story? When fate doesn’t follow a script. Well today fate has found Brandon. It’s almost here.

Leave the comfort of your book covers this Halloween as we share haunted tales right here on your computer screen. Come back tomorrow, Oct. 30 for a spine-tingling tale submitted by patrons!

Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org  On Oct 30, 2020 at 10:59 AM
  
by Stacy

"I'm writing a first draft and reminding myself that I'm simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles." – Shannon Hale

NaNoWriMo


Alright – you know what NaNoWriMo is, you’re game for the challenge, there’s only a few days until November 1…. now what?  

While November is the month of writing, September and October are really the months for prepping! If you aren’t like me, you probably have a pretty good sense of time and maybe you’ve already started prepping for NaNoWriMo – which is totally awesome and I’m jealous! Maybe you didn’t know what NaNoWriMo was until now and wish you had a few more weeks to prepare? NaNoWriMo’s official website has their own preparation guideline you can follow as early as September 2021.

However, maybe you are like me. Maybe life is pretty busy and you probably don’t even know when November is – let alone that it’s in two months, or one month, or even three days. Aha – then this is the blog for you! Not official by any means except to me, I am going to share with you how I prep for NaNoWriMo before November!

Create Goals
First and foremost – Create. Your. Goals. 
(Trust me, this is so important.)

You know your end goal is 50,000 words by November 30. Now it’s time to create mini-goals to last you from now until November 1 to get you as prepared as possible to start writing. I will share with you my personal NaNoWriMo 2020 mini-goals and a bit about each one – maybe your mini-goals aren’t exactly the same and that’s perfectly okay! There’s no one correct way to write a novel and that’s what this month long challenge is all about!

My NaNoWriMo Mini-Goals:
- Develop an Idea
- Plot/Characters/Setting/World Building
- Outline, outline, outline!

Develop an Idea
Yeah, okay, maybe this one sounds like a no-brainer, but unless you’re already flowing with creativity (which I am not) this is a really difficult first step.  

Luckily there are a lot of ways to generate story ideas! Listening to music, watching movies, reading books are all classic ways of getting ideas. All you need is that one line or that one piece of imagery to move you in the right direction – sometimes the whole work can move you. I’m pretty notorious for writing adaptations of my favorite older movies and books like “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carol and “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman.  

Another thing I like to do when I feel stuck on an idea, or lack thereof, is use random word, story or sentence generators online such as Plot Generator. This website gives you random generators for story ideas, opening lines, etc. A lot of times this can sparks new ideas that you wouldn’t be exposed to in your day to day life! This tool is actually one I use a lot when I write – not only is it good for creating ideas, it’s a really great daily writing practice I use before I pick up my NaNoWriMo novel for the day.

Character/Setting/World Building
Okay you have your idea – now on to the hard stuff.  

I find it impossible whether I’m writing a novel for NaNoWriMo or writing a novel for an entire year to have all three of these things figured out in detail. So absolutely do not stress about having all of this set in stone. I guarantee you it will all change as you are writing and discover new paths and developments for your story and characters.

Character: I like to start with a few characters – namely, my protagonist. Really, my only goal with characters before November is to get some names down for my primary characters, a few names for my secondary characters and any important information that will make starting the story easier. For me, I prefer to let my characters come out as I write.  

Setting: I know it’s difficult – who wants to write about the state and town that you grew up in? It seems so boring and dull, where’s the excitement? It doesn’t seem as glamorous as Hollywood or New York City. Real life isn’t glamorous. I grew up in a small farm town where my middle school graduating class was maybe 500 kids, essentially the exact opposite of glamorous. But that’s what I know – that’s where my childhood is rooted, it’s where I learned the fundamentals of who I am. Is it glamorous? No. Is it pleasant and fun to write about? It can be. Do I confidently feel that I could believably write my hometown in a way that will create a strong setting for my characters? Yes!  

World Building: World building can be soooooo much work. It doesn’t have to be though. If you decide that you want your world set in our real modern day Earth, your fictional world will likely follow our same rules and laws. World building can be as easy as modern day Aurora, Colorado or as extensive as J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth. If you’re like to me and like to create fantasy and sci-fi stories, world building is crucial. You’ll most likely start a whole world entirely by scratch. This can include maps and landscape, lore, currency, religion, laws, government, etc. Trust me, it sounds like a lot because it is. I personally lovelovelove world building and taking the time to create a fictional world can be such a blast.  

Again; I guarantee that you will change you character/setting/world as you are writing and discover new paths and developments for your story and characters. This is super common and expected, especially for NaNoWriMo.  

Outlining
I understand that not everyone outlines. Outlining can be tedious and it can be slow, especially when you’re in a dry spell for ideas. I know a lot of writers who don’t outline at all – they just begin writing and create an outline/story path as they go! For me though, honestly, sometimes I get so invested with outlining, I forget to actually write my stories. Outlining is always what I spend the most time on when I write novels.

I create two documents; one is my general/overall outline and another I call “chapter/idea outlines.” The general overall outline is my story from start to finish. The likelihood of me getting an outline completely finished before November 1 will never happen, even if I started it the previous November. A lot of this time this outline will start in the middle of my story or at the climax, and I will outline my way to the end before going back and outlining backwards to the beginning. My “chapter/idea” outline is when I have something specific that I know I want to happen, but not sure where to fit in yet. This document allows me to express and flesh out all of my ideas, while giving me the time to fit it in rather than force it in.  

Conclusion
Come into NaNoWriMo on November 1 as prepared or unprepared as you want to be! My favorite part of novel writing is the research, planning, and world building so I spent a lot portion of my time catering to these expectations. If you haven’t tried preparing for your stories before, 2020 might be a good year to try it out! Normally over plan like me? Forgo it! Wing it – see how your story comes out!  



















































Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org  On Oct 29, 2020 at 2:20 PM
  
Create It Pets

Welcome to Create It: Pets! Each month, in partnership with the Aurora Animal Shelter, we will be sharing a fun, easy DIY to make for furry friends!

In this video, librarian Tessy shares a tutorial for how to make a DIY bow tie for a furry friend. Bow ties are cool!



Make these fun projects for your own pets, or consider donating to the Aurora Animal Shelter! For more information about the Aurora Animal Shelter and donations, visit their website here.
Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org  On Oct 29, 2020 at 12:05 PM
  
Make & Learn

Welcome to Make & Learn! In this program, our librarians will be sharing easy-to-make games and activities that support cognitive development and practicing early literacy skills.

In this video, Miss Karen discusses counting and conservation of numbers and shares a fun activity for little ones to practice one-to-one correspondence when counting.

Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org  On Oct 29, 2020 at 12:04 PM
  
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