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Camp Care Package/July 2015

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This page contains the Camp Care Packages from Camp NaNoWriMo July 2015.

July 2015's Camp Counselors were Steven dos Santos, Karen Sandler, B A Binns, and Dhonielle Clayton.

Steven dos Santos

Steven dos Santos was Camp Counselor for the first full week of July 2015. Author bio included in the care packages:

Steven dos Santos is a Team Member of We Need Diverse Books. Steven is a passionate advocate of LGBT rights and is currently working on the third book in The Torch Keeper series.

6 July 2015

The promise of a reward works wonders for generating writing motivation. I make sure to line up a few favorite activities that I can’t partake in until I’ve completed the day’s writing goals. In my case, this includes going to the movies, laying out by the pool, visiting my favorite restaurant, etc.

By conditioning myself this way, I've begun to associate writing with a golden carrot. Not to mention, there's the bonus of riding that writer’s high, and enjoying my favorite pastimes guilt-free!

7 July 2015

You're a writer. Treat yourself like one!

Home offices or designated writing spaces work great, not only for organizational purposes, but also psychologically.

Since writing can be lonely at times, interacting with other writers and talking craft is also a great way to reinforce this mindset.

It's also important not to neglect your physical well-being. Get up from your writer’s chair every now and then, exercise, breathe some fresh air.

A good night's sleep and healthy meals are also ideal for keeping your mind alert and ready to create. The better state you’re in, the more you’ll fuel your imagination.

8 July 2015

Writer's block. It's the bane of our existence. When I'm agonizing in front of a blank screen, starting a scene already in progress works wonders to get those juices flowing.

Think of it as walking in in the middle of an argument. Who cares if it's a scene that doesn't take place chronologically or may end up discarded? Choosing to dive into a conflict in progress definitely gets the ball rolling.

I also suggest ending a writing session in the middle of a scene or at a cliffhanger, to give you an easier starting point the next time you begin.

9 July 2015

Sometimes we are our own worst saboteurs. Have you ever spent an hour on one sentence, trying to get it just right? Sometimes we are our own worst saboteurs. Have you ever spent an hour on one sentence, trying to get it just right? I struggle with this constantly, especially when starting a new project.

Give yourself permission to spew run-on sentences, spit out awkward phrases, and regurgitate unnecessary background details; dump information into a festering literary mound. That's what revision is for. Crappy paragraphs and poor word choices are all good here. If you set out to write a first draft that's ready to go to the printer, it ain't gonna happen (See? I can correct that later).

10 July 2015

It's easy to get frustrated with your writing and wonder "Why am I putting myself through this?"

I write Young Adult novels featuring LGBTQIA characters. Whenever I'm feeling down about writing, I remind myself of the readers who have contacted me saying what a positive experience it's been seeing characters like themselves depicted on the page. One particular reader, brought tears to my eyes when he said my books had inspired him to come out to his family. Let the idea that your words as a writer can touch even just one individual inspire and motivate you.

Karen Sandler

Karen Sandler was Camp Counselor for the second full week of Camp NaNoWriMo 2015. Author bio included in the care packages:

Karen Sandler is the author of nineteen novels for adults, as well as Tankborn, Awakening, and Rebellion, a YA science fiction trilogy from multi-cultural publisher Lee and Low Books. She is a founding team member of We Need Diverse Books.

13 July 2015

Fiction is not the real world. In the real world, not everything means something. Much of what happens is just mundane, boring stuff that nobody cares about.

In fiction, the reader expects that every detail of a scene will connect to the story. If you spend more than a few words describing your main character, Ray Santiago, watching a brown and white spotted dog with one blue eye trot down the street with a bone in its mouth, that dog better bite Ray before the end. Or that bone the dog is carrying better be human.

14 July 2015

Every character has a back story. It's what makes them fully formed and believable. But resist the urge to describe your character's past with a data dump of everything they ever experienced since birth. The best way to reveal a character's back story is through the character's actions/dialogue on the page.

15 July 2015

Best Nora Roberts quote ever: "I can fix a bad page, I can't fix a blank page."

When you are frozen in self-doubt and you question every word you write, just kick yourself into gear and keep typing. Nothing is set in concrete in your manuscript. You can always fix it later.

16 July 2015

Dialogue needs a purpose; it can't just fill space. Every line of dialogue must do at least one of these:

  1. Move the story forward.
  2. Reveal info.
  3. Reveal character.

Keep your dialogue full of direction!

17 July 2015

Sometimes writing advice just won't click with you. You'll read a nugget of wisdom that everyone else is oohing and ahing about, but instead of that zing of realization, you'll just hear a clunk.

Realize that even the best advice might not be for you. As long as you're not rejecting advice out of hand because it's not what you want to hear, you can pick and choose what works for you. There is no one way to be a writer.

B A Binns

B A Binns was the third Camp Counselor for July 2015. Author bio included in the care packages:

B. A. Binns is an award-winning author of contemporary, multicultural novels and short stories, including the novel, Pull. She teaches classes to writers on inserting diversity into their works.

20 July 2015

You are in the homestretch; hurray! Week Three is often the hardest, but it can also be the breakthrough week.

There are all kinds of sayings, the darkest hours, point of no return, yada yada yada. You may find your characters have their own minds by now; let them go off in their own directions if they chose. Your mission is to observe and record.

21 July 2015

So your plot is veering away from your treasured outline. That's a good thing because it means your characters aren't stick figures -- they're coming alive and taking charge.

This isn't a step-by-step road map that must be followed at all costs. A good outline contains the characters' goals and a set of problems they traverse in pursuit of those goals. If you find they decide something else is more important that's not the end of the world. If your outline breathes and stretches then your story is alive.

22 July 2015

Don't try to force things. Take back your joy in writing by working on a brand new scene, even a new story, while the old one rests.

Or think about re-writing a favorite scene from a different character's POV. Write the climactic final battle through the villain's eyes, or let a minor character take charge of the big reveal. You get to see your world through different eyes, and you can relax and enjoy writing, knowing that what you put down doesn't have to be perfect, just fun. You may even find that you like writing as this character.

23 July 2015

Have you chosen to write about someone different from you? If you chose to explore characters of different races or levels of ability, a different sexual orientation, or who live in a different part of the world, fantastic! Crafting diverse characters can be difficult but rewarding if you remember the four R’s:

Recognize that much of what you think you know is a media product that may be inaccurate.

Root-out stereotypes that may slip in because of that.

Replace the stereotypes with realistic portrayals by doing your...


24 July 2015

If you're one of the people who enjoy revising, congratulations. If not, remember the 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration thing. First drafts are like the block of stone Michelangelo used to carve David. Some claim he said he just had to remove everything that wasn't David.

Think the same thing about your own revision efforts: remove and remake everything that isn't your core story to find the gem inside the words.

Dhonielle Clayton

Dhonielle Clayton was the Camp Counselor for the last full week of July 2015's Camp NaNoWriMo session. Author bio included in the care packages:

Dhonielle Clayton hails from the Washington, D.C. suburbs. She is a librarian at Harlem Village Academies and co-founder of CAKE Literary. She is the author of Tiny Pretty Things with Sona Charaipotra, and her new fantasy series The Belles hits shelves soon.

27 July 2015

Each day make a mini-plan of what you want to get accomplished. A big task is just a series of small tasks. A book is just a series of chapters. Daily goals are my bread and butter.

While I'm drafting, I find it helpful to see a post-it note above my computer that has a daily chapter goal or word count or scene addition. If I hit this daily goal, then I feel accomplished -- even if I have tons more to do. This daily satisfaction helps keep my enthusiasm high and my mind focused.

28 July 2015

It sounds silly -- and like something your mom might say -- but make sure to eat. Make a meal plan around your writing. The more fuel you have, the better your brain will work, and the more words you can get onto the page.

Drafting takes a lot out of you because you're creating something out of nothing. You're feeding the story, so be sure to feed yourself and keep your energy levels high. Some writerly brain foods: blueberries, sliced tomatoes with mozzarella, nuts and raisins, popcorn, juice, avocados with chips, and dark chocolate.

29 July 2015

When you're in the writing trenches, you need a buddy. Someone to whine to, someone to commiserate with, someone who understands just how hard it is to create something out of nothing.

I call my writing partner. Our code name is "PEP TALK" and when deployed she knows to expect a whole bunch of whining and dumping of my neurotic thoughts. In those moments, she fills me up with just what I need -- words that remind me that I'm a writer and a creator, and that I can do this.

30 July 2015

Spend some time writing out how your world works. Writing fantasy or sci-fi? What is the one thing in the your world that everyone wants? What are people (or those who live there) willing to do to get it? What are the constraints of the world and how does that warp how people live or relate to one another?

Knee-deep in contemporary? Where is your character in the pecking order? If your character could have one wish that could fix everything for them, what would it be? How is their family structured, and how do they operate? Spend time figuring out the rules of your magic or your world.

31 July 2015

One of the biggest roadblocks I have in the drafting process is self-doubt. I beat myself up about how sloppy the pages are or how cliché the plot might be or how my concept in another author's hands would be executed better. I am my own worst enemy. A perfection monster.

These evil thoughts creep in every three days or so, and I become paralyzed with doubt. I forget that first drafts are messy. My head becomes a storm of negative thoughts. Can I really write this draft? Will readers like it? Is there anything salvable in this manuscript? When I fall into that dark place, I know it's time for a pep talk or time to find a part of the book that I’m proud of. But forgive yourself. First drafts aren't supposed to be perfect.