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NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month: November In Review
By Elizabeth, Stacy, and Justine

Hi, library friends and patrons! How’s writing going? Whether you have 500 words or 50,000, the next literary masterpiece or a heap of confused rambling about feng shui, we’re proud of you: it’s been a tough year, and any writing feels like an accomplishment.

Aurora Public Library’s librarians and staff have been all over the board for National Novel Writing Month, too! Some of us rebelled, while others stayed loyal to NaNo’s official rules; some hit word count, while some didn’t. Check out our writing journeys below.

Elizabeth: The Sleepy Rebel

Did you know that voice-recording your story before bed has THREE big advantages? True story! Check out some of these Highly Recommended Writing Moments:  

1. “...I might be falling asleep? I can’t remember what I just said” will always get a laugh out of your writing friends if you let them listen to your ramblings (or when they make you share)  

2. Nothing says “surprising plot twist” like “I must have been falling asleep here, because now? There's a giraffe, and maybe a love confession, and now this is a mafia story.”

3. Most importantly, sleepy mumbling means extra words means extra word count! I went from 30k to 40k in ONE LONG VOICE RECORDING

Thanks to voice recording, this year, I might actually finish NaNoWriMo! Sounds fake, right? I’m shocked, too, but besides half-asleep mumbling, here’s what I really did to succeed:  
 
· I chose to write little stories instead of one big one,
· forgave myself for wandering off-topic,  
· took advantage of APL’s writing sessions,  
· and offered to show my writing to a great weekend writing buddy and fantastic writer (which, of course, inspired desperate rewriting and increased my word count because company’s coming, vacuum the paragraphs and hide the semi-colons, we can’t let people know we live here).  

Most importantly, writing has provided a welcome distraction from this year's background hum of holiday worry and existential dread, and it’s given me lovely characters to spend time with all over again: from pirates to, yep, sleep giraffes. 11/10, would NaNo again.

Now, I gotta go: this recording’s kind of muffled, but it sounds like half-asleep-me just tried to make a butterfly duel God, and I’d better type fast to make sense of that in the light of day.

Stacy: The Dreamer

This was finally the first year I was able to participate in NaNoWriMo without simultaneously writing a Bachelor’s thesis besides it. Ealy-2020's Stacy thought this was the year to 👏Get 👏 It 👏Done. 👏 Late-2020's Stacy realizes that was just fool’s hope.

What I expected 2020 NaNoWriMo to be:
· Wake up at 6:30am 9much earlier than my usual schedule)
· 15 minute writing warm up
· Write for 20-30 minutes before work
· Come home and do a 15 minute writing warm up
· 1 hour - ? Until I reached the days word count

What 2020 NaNoWriMo was:
· Wake up 15 minutes before I need to leave the house
· Work = busybusybusy, gogogo
· Come home and write for 30 minutes before having to start dinner and eventually pass out.  
· More Or Less

Things That Went Bad? Reaching word counts and creating a reasonable schedule.  
I thought being done with school would help me get closer to beating NaNoWriMo, but I didn’t factor in the exhaustion from adjusting to a full-time post-COVID schedule that wiped me out every single night. Nor did it help that I was constantly shifting my story ideas.  

Things That Went OK? Out of six short stories, only one feels worth continueing.  
Rather than write one long novel for NaNoWriMo, I opted for a similar approach as I did last year and wrote a collection of short stories. Out of my collection of half finished short stories, only one am I really drawn to. It’s an untitled short story about the disappearance and murder of girl in a small farm town – I like to thank my love of horror films and my own less than stellar experiences growing up in a small town as inspiration!  

Things That Went Good? Weekend writing sessions.
My work week was atrocious. I thought being done with school would help me get closer to beating NaNoWriMo, but I didn’t factor in the exhaustion from adjusting to a full-time post-COVID schedule that wiped me out every single night. Nor did it help that I was constantly shifting my story ideas and leaving stories half finished to pursue a new one.  

Typically my weekends have much more productive! On an average weekend, I would write for maybe 2 or 3 hours a day. Was it enough to catch me up? No. Was it enough to keep me from feeling like I was completely drowning? Sort of – only almost completely drowning. Sadly, I was never anywhere close to reaching a daily word count nor am I anywhere at all close to the 50,000 words.  

Things For 2021? No more short stories.
I find that I get so focused on writing everything perfectly the first time that it prevents me from getting far enough to really make any dents. Somehow for 2021, I need to work on writing without that focus. I need to be able to let loose and let the writing flow, whether or not its “good.” For 2021, I need to take a lesson from the other’s writing experiences. Maybe try to do more Sleepy writing sessions with a voice recorder like Elizabeth?

While I think the official rules for NaNoWriMo states that you’re supposed to write one novel for the entire month, without picking up from a story you’ve already started - I can already tell you that unless inspiration really strikes me, I will probably use 2021 NaNoWriMo to expand on the short story I liked from this year instead.  

Justine: The Comeback Kid

The first time I won NaNoWriMo was back in November of 2010, as a senior in high school. I finished it between homework, extracurriculars, and college applications. Once I began actively pursuing my dream of becoming a writer, I assumed I’d win NaNoWriMo every single year thereafter, but I was sorely mistaken. In November of 2011, I was several months into my freshman year of college and was struggling to keep up with my peers. I wrote every chance I got, but I was too stressed to continue. I didn’t write past 10,000 words.  

The year after, my creative writing professor dealt a major blow to my confidence. “You don’t got it, Justine. Whatever makes a good writer, you don’t got it.” I was devastated. My professor was suggesting I change my major and give up on my dreams of becoming a renowned author. Although I didn’t heed his advice and I continued on with my degree, and earned it, writing was no longer my passion. I couldn’t stop seeing every error, every plot hole, how vapid and one dimensional my characters felt. “No one would ever wanna read this. So why should I write it?” I attempted NaNoWriMo several more times, never breaking past 10,000 words nor attempting to write beyond the first week of November. My love for the craft was gone and I felt certain it was gone for good. He was right. Whatever “it” was, I didn’t have it.  

10 years later, I had no idea I’d be living through a pandemic and that my social life would screech to a grinding halt. I was losing brain cells vegging out in front of the TV and not doing anything intellectually stimulating. I started reading Stephen King’s Misery and in the words of his main character, a writer named Paul Sheldon, I asked myself: “Can you?” Can you complete NaNoWriMo now that you have no excuses? You’re supposed to be home anyway. There are no new Pokémon games out, no social obligations to distract you, and nothing else to do. No one ever has to read it! Can you at least try?  

And try I did. I committed to writing the most self-indulgent, most unpublishable novel in the world. Something just for me that no one else would ever see or even have to know about. The chains came loose and words began to pour out of me. I didn’t think I could ever write again after the pain I had associated with it from my college years, but once the pressure of it being good or publishable was no longer there, I found myself falling in love with it again, like reacquainting myself with an old friend.

“Can you write a novel in one month? Can you love writing again, even if it’s only for you? Can you?” I can, I did, I do, and maybe I don’t “got it,” but I have something so much better. I have a sense of accomplishment that no professor could ever give me. I did it because I liked it. I completed something I set my mind to, and I didn’t do it to make a point. I did it for me.

Final Thoughts
So, did you win NaNoWriMo this year? Better question: can you win NaNoWriMo this year? I don’t know if writing’s a win-or-lose sport. Maybe this year, in 2020, NaNoWriMo served another purpose. In the words of fantasy author Neil Gaiman:

"Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do: make good art.”

You did it. In the face of overwhelming hardship, when you were probably burnt out and tired and mentally calculating whether or not you could go home for Thanksgiving, you chose to make art, and that choice is a victory all on its own. (And yes, if your family asks how your novel’s going, you can tell them we said that. We’re librarians, right? We know.)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Finish strong, and happy writing.
Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org  On Nov 24, 2020 at 1:23 PM
  
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: Chapters 12-23
1. Olivia helped the sea turtle by smashing the pool's emergency light. Was this the right thing to do?
2. Now the turtle has made a nest, Olivia realizes the eggs are not safe. What does she try to do to protect them?
3. Since her barrier didn't work, what do you think she'll try next?
4. If you were in Olivia's shoes, what would YOU do?
5. She left the nest alone and the eggs hatched but some of the babies went the wrong way! Do you think calling the aquarium was a good idea?
6. Everything resolves itself well in the end and Lanie teaches Olivia to see a bit of hope in their situation. How did you like the book?

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 23, 2020 at 2:11 PM
  
Create It!

Create It! Trick or Treat Boxes
by Karen

It's Make It Monday! This week, Karen shares a fun and easy DIY to make a festive doorhanger - perfect decor for fall!

Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org  On Nov 23, 2020 at 9:00 AM
  
(November 22) On Sunday, November 22, 2020, at about 5:22 p.m., Aurora police officers responded to an auto-pedestrian accident at East Colfax Avenue and Clinton Street.

Upon arrival officers discovered a 75-year-old woman suffering from multiple injuries after being struck by a newer model black Yukon. The woman was transported to an area hospital where tragically she succumbed to her injuries.

The initial investigation has revealed the woman did not use a crosswalk when crossing the roadway when she was struck by the Yukon. The adult male driver of the Yukon remained at the scene. Neither Drugs, alcohol nor speed are believed to be contributing factors to the accident. This investigation remains active and ongoing

The identity of the deceased will be released by the Adams County Coroner's Office after a positive identification has been made, and her next-of-kin has been notified.

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 22, 2020 at 10:18 PM
  
Read It!

Read It! "The Little Shop of Found Things" by Paula Brackston
by Nicole

Hello there! Like I said before, I am giving my reviews on the books that have been chosen to read in my virtual Wisconsin book club group! Once a month, we all get together on videochat and discuss the book we picked for that month. It’s been great to catch up with them since we moved out here, and even better being able to discuss books! Our next book we picked to read was “The Little Shop of Found Things” by Paula Brackston.

The Little Shop of Found Things

This was actually the book I recommended to the group because I had read other novels by Paula Brackston such as “The Witch’s Daughter” and “The Winter Witch”. She mostly writes historical fantasy novels which is why I was excited to read another book by her. “The LIttle Shop of Found Things” was published in 2018 and categorized as a historical fiction, romance and fantasy novel. All good genres rolled into one! This book is about a young woman named Xanthe (pronounced Z-an-thee) and her mother Flora who move from London to a tiny town named Marlborough for a fresh start. Xanthe has a unique gift, when she touches an antique they “sing” to her. Meaning she senses the stories they hold and where they might have come from. Xanthe and her mother open up an antiques shop, with the hopes of Xanthe’s gift will help them flourish. As they are preparing to open the shop, Xanthe finds an intense connection to a silver chatelaine. As she tries to examine it more, Xanthe is transported back to the chatelaine’s origins, the 17th Century. An unkown spirit also appears seeking Xanthe’s help by saving her daughter, who was wrongly accused. As Xanthe tries to save this girl in 1605, she also meets an architect named Samuel Appleby. Can he help her succeed in her quest or will he become the reason she can’t bear to leave?

I loved this concept of having a gift like that where you can touch objects and learn their past and stories, and some be able to visit the time of their origins. Xanthe is an admirable and loveable character who wants to help her mom succeed with their antique shop, while also wanting to help pure strangers such as the spirit and her daughter. Not only is there time-travel but also a budding romance. Xanthe finds herself desperately attempting to fit into the seventeeth century but also keeping to her true personality in the presence of Samuel. While we did enjoy the story, there were times we did feel that is a slower developing story than most. It takes some time for us to learn the chatelaine’s importance and why it’s so imperative that the spirit’s daughter must be saved. However if you enjoy a slower paced storytelling with a hint of romance, you will enjoy this book. And bonus: it’s part of a series! The sequel, “Secrets of the Chocolate House”, was published in 2019. And expected sometime this year will be the third installment of the series, “The Garden of Promises and Lies”.

Secrets of the Chocolate House

For books similar to the "Little Shop of Found Things", check out “The Book Charmer” (Dove Pond, #1) by Karen Hawkins, “Midnight at the Blackbird Café” by Heather Webber and “The Witch's Kind” by Louisa Morgan.

Check back for my review of our next book club pick - “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens.
 
Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org  On Nov 20, 2020 at 9:12 AM
  
Draw It!
Grab a pencil and paper - it's time to Draw It! 📝 Our staff member Kristin shows how to draw an adorable polar bear!
Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org  On Nov 19, 2020 at 12:53 PM
  
HELLO

HELLO stands for Hand-on Early Literacy for Little Ones. In this program children will sing songs, work on fine and gross motor skills, learn about letters, numbers and science and develop early literacy skills. Ages 0-6.

This week's video is all about the letter E, as in elephant!

Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org  On Nov 19, 2020 at 12:52 PM
  

(November 17, 2020) On Tuesday November 17, 2020 at approximately 7:32 p.m., Aurora police officers responded to a parking lot in the 1900 block of South Havana Street on multiple reports of a shooting. 

Upon arrival officers located an adult male with an apparent gunshot wound and was transported to an area hospital.  Tragically, the adult male has since succumbed to his injuries. 

Abdikarim Mumin DOB: 07/22/1997 (as shown in attached Aurora police booking photo) has been arrested and charged with the following crimes into the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office:

18-3-103 Murder in the Second Degree

18-12-108 Possession of Weapons by Previous Offenders

The identity of the deceased will be released by the Arapahoe County Coroner’s Office after he has been positively identified, and his next of kin have been notified.  

Investigators from the Major Crimes/Homicide Unit responded to the scene and are actively investigating. At this time it is not clear what the relationship between the two is. Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to call our Homicide Unit at 303.739.6077 or they can remain anonymous by contacting Denver Metro Crime Stoppers at 720.913.STOP (7867) and be eligible for a reward of up to $2,000.

Officer Crystal McCoy
Media Relations Unit
720.432.5095
Mumin Abdikarim

 

Posted by ckmccoy@auroragov.org  On Nov 18, 2020 at 9:39 AM
  

(November 17) On November 16, 2020 shortly after noon, the Aurora Police Department arrested Romeo Desean Thompson DOB: 03/25/2001, for the November 16th homicide at East Yale Avenue and East Brown Drive.  Thompson, as shown in the attached Aurora police booking photo, has been charged with the following:

 

18-3-102(1)(a) Murder in The First Degree

18-12-108(1)   Possession of Weapons by A Previous Offender

 

Prosecution will be conducted by the 18th District Judicial District Attorney’s Office.  No further information will be released at this time, and all additional media inquiries should be directed to the prosecuting office.

Officer Crystal McCoy 
Public Information Officer
Aurora Police Department
720.432.5095
Romeo Desean Thompson



(November 16) On Monday, November 16th, 2020, at approximately 11:40 a.m., Aurora Police Officers responded to East Yale Ave and East Brown Drive on reports of a shooting.  

Officer's arrived and located an adult male suffering from a gunshot wound. He was transported to the hospital where he has since succumbed to his injuries.

The identity of the male will be released by the Arapahoe County Coroner’s Office after he has been positively identified, and his respective next of kin has been notified.

Investigators from the Major Crimes/Homicide Unit responded to the scene and are actively investigating. Initial information is that this started as a possible road-rage incident. A person of interest has been identified in this case. Investigators are very early in their investigation which includes interviewing numerous witnesses and processing the physical evidence on scene. At this time, no one has been charged in this incident.

Any witnesses to this incident are encouraged to call our Homicide Unit at 303.739.6077 or they can remain anonymous by contacting Denver Metro Crime Stoppers at 720.913.STOP (7867) and be eligible for a reward of up to $2,000.00.


Officer Matthew Longshore
Public Information Officer
Aurora Police Department
720-432-5095
Posted by mwellslo@auroragov.org  On Nov 17, 2020 at 5:18 PM
  
NaNoWriMo

The Dreaded Writing Bog: How to Overcome Writer's Block
by Justine

Can you believe you’re already over halfway through with NaNoWriMo?! I know it snuck up on me. At this point, logic would dictate that you should have written over 25,000 words by now. If you’re like me, you may not be anywhere close, and that’s okay. Sometimes, it seems the further you get into your story, the harder it can be to conjure words. Your character is at Point A, you want them to get to Point C, but Point B eludes you. You are stuck in the dreaded writing bog known as writer’s block. It is the bane of all writers and bound to strike at the least convenient time, like when you’re 10,000 words into a 50,000 word novel with time running out (a completely arbitrary and randomly chosen number—not from personal experience, oh no). The good news is, this is National Novel Writing Month. It’s not National Best Novel Writing Month or even National Good Novel Writing Month. Your only goal this month is to write a novel! It doesn’t have to be your best work, it doesn’t have to be good, and you don’t have to share it with anybody. That’s the beauty of it! Once you get past that and accept that your only goal is to churn out words until the cows come home, you will have a much easier time overcoming writer’s block. Just in case you’re still feeling freaked out and unsure, though, I have some tips for you as a fellow treader of the bog.  

When In Doubt, Deus Ex Machina
Roughly translated from the Latin for “god from the machine,” this plot device is an author’s best friend. Deus ex machina comes in handy when you’ve got a problem in your story that your characters just can’t overcome. Maybe she just unwittingly stepped into quicksand, is sinking rapidly, but you already established eight pages ago that her compatriots are days away and she’s in the middle of nowhere with nothing to grab onto to save herself. “Uh oh. Now what?” you may ask. Well, with deus ex machina, nothing is impossible! Maybe a friendly and freakishly strong eagle happens to fly overhead and drop a vine so she can pull herself out. Perhaps her friends’ trip is cut down by a magical shortcut they found miraculously and they save her in the nick of time. You could suddenly just decide the quicksand drags her down not to her death, but into another dimension, and the story could take a wild turn! It can be as ridiculous as you want it to be. Don’t get wrapped up in the details and just have fun getting your characters out of whatever impossible bind you’ve wrapped them in.  

Accept Imperfection
This is going to be a tough one for you perfectionists out there (trust me, I’m one of them!), but one thing to keep in mind is this is only a first draft. You may develop writer’s block because you’re so overwhelmed by all the grammar, spelling, and syntax errors staring back at you. The squiggly red and green lines under your words and the inelegant prose might hurt to think about, but try not to get discouraged! Again, the beauty of NaNoWriMo is the fact that no one has to see your work if you don’t want them to. It isn’t for a grade and you are your own harshest critic. If you find that you’re bumming yourself out over all the imperfections in your writing, it might help to stop looking at it. I know that sounds strange, but hear me out. Think about it like the rearview mirror in your car. If you keep looking behind you, you can’t focus on what’s ahead. You could get in an accident if you obsess over what’s back there. Instead, focus on looking forward out the windshield. Occasional glances back to make sure the story is progressing the way you want to is fine, but don’t keep your eyes there. Right now your goal is quantity, not quality, so if it hurts to look at all those errors just don’t look at them and simply write! Writing badly is better than giving up and not writing at all. Accept the imperfection, love it, and laugh about it later.  

Seek the Root
Do you know why you’re suffering from writer’s block? It might be an obvious problem like your neighbor blasting loud music during your writing time, or it could be something harder to pin down, like being intimidated by other writers’ success or the fear of writing poorly. Whatever the problem is, getting to the root of it could be helpful in your pursuit of the motivation to continue writing. Sometimes it’s something you can fix and sometimes it isn’t. You may not be able to convince your neighbor to turn down the music, but you could choose to write another time of day or use earplugs or noise-canceling headphones while writing. It can be hard to write when you feel like other writers would do so more skillfully, or if you feel like your writing isn’t up to anyone’s standards, but reminding yourself that it isn’t a competition and that literary recognition isn’t the bottom line can help you feel a little bit better. Remember: writing anything is a huge accomplishment! Find the root of the problem, uproot it, tell it to shoo, and let the words flow freely.

Stop Writing
Call me crazy, but it really works. Sometimes you’re so stuck that nothing seems to help. Maybe you already deus ex machina’d the heck out of your story, you accepted your imperfect writing, you sought the root of your block, and you’re still at a loss for words. When you’ve reached this point, taking a step back might be just what you need. Go take a shower, get some fresh air, grab a snack, or even take a nap. The motivation to write is an elusive beast and one best tamed by occasionally ignoring it, as counterproductive as it may sound. As they say, a watched pot never boils. Walk away for a little while and come back fresh and ready to write. If you’re anything like me, some of your best thinking might occur when you’re away from the computer or typewriter; they even make waterproof notepads for the shower now so you never lose your revelatory shower thoughts! Even if you have to stop writing for a day or two, it’s better than giving up altogether. Your story will be patiently waiting for your return!  

These are just a few tips for overcoming writer’s block, but I hope they’ve given you a little bit of solace if you’re starting to feel the pressure. There are so many things that can land you in the bog, but like in the deus ex machina example, I aim to be your freakishly strong eagle friend and help you find a way out of it. Whatever you write will be wonderful no matter what you put on the page, so please don’t give up! In the words of Sylvia Plath: “Every day, writing. No matter how bad. Something will come.” Keep writing, my friends. I’ll see you at the finish line. 

Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org  On Nov 17, 2020 at 8:52 AM
  
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