DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!


May 9 2016

So You Want to Write a Book!

by Jencey G

How many of you have on your bucket list publishing a prize winning book? Where do you begin? What are your next steps?  How do you start a manuscript and see it through to the end that includes publication?  What makes for good plot and character development? Or just a good story?

The library can help.  One way to do this is to visit the experts.  You can attend programs at Georgia Center for the Book.  There is usually at least one program each week with many different authors and genres represented.  There almost always is a question and answer session at the end of the author’s talk for those with writing questions.

The next option would be to attend a writer’s group program at one of our many branches.  These groups can provide accountability and or work on skills that help progress your writing.  There are groups that have met at our locations at Wesley Chapel- William C. Brown, Stonecrest, Clarkston, Dunwoody, among others.  Some branches have speakers that come and focus on a certain skill in writing.  We had a program at Clarkston about the psychological effects of characters within your writing. Dunwoody has had a gentleman who comes and helps you work on the tools of writing.

There are many books that are perfect to help you wiJanet Evanovichth your writing and are also available on audiobook.   They may also be available in e-content as well. Your favorite authors get asked questions all the time about writing.  Janet Evanovich is one of those authors who has written a book about her writing process and the publishing field.  You can find, How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author at DCPL. I found it to be insightful.  One of the most recommended is Stephen King On Writing, A Memoir of Craft.  There are books available that focus on plot, character development, or how to read as a writer.

Please visit the catalog and see what can make writing your manuscript happen.  Please also visit the events page on the DeKalb Library website.  Maybe I will see you at a Georgia Center for the Book program!


May 9 2012

Three Minute Fiction

by Jesse M

All Things Considered, the award winning news program on National Public Radio, is currently in the midst of judging a fiction writing contest. The contest has a simple premise: Listeners send in original short stories that can be read in three minutes or less. The contest has been ongoing through multiple rounds since 2009, with each round featuring a different prompt or requirement.

For Round 8, judge Luis Alberto Urrea asked participants to send in original fiction that begins with this sentence: “She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally decided to walk through the door.”

Over 6,000 entries were received this round and the judges are still sifting through them all, with standouts being highlighted weekly.

To read through the stories yourself, visit npr.org/threeminutefiction. And if you’re curious as to what a winning submission looks like, check out round seven’s winner, Little Hossein, and the runner-up, Sleep Lessons.


After years spent writing for Wired and other publications, Steve Silberman decided to try his hand at authoring a book. The genesis of his work was an influential article he had published a decade ago about autism in high-tech communities such as Silicon Valley, and the new book revisits the subject, concerning itself with autism, the variety of human cognitive styles, and the rise of the neurodiversity movement. Despite having spent the past two decades in journalism, Silberman found the prospect of authoring a 100,000 word book daunting, and so went in search of advice. He sent out an email to the authors in his social network, asking them, “What do you wish you’d known about the process of writing a book that you didn’t know before you did it?”

A diverse group of authors replied with advice, from science writers to bloggers, a zen master, a poet, and even a musician (David Crosby of the Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young) among others. You can view all the advice here. My favorite advice comes courtesy of Cory Doctorow, journalist, blogger, and author of a number of award winning science fiction novels:

Write every day. Anything you do every day gets easier. If you’re insanely busy, make the amount that you write every day small (100 words? 250 words?) but do it every day.
Write even when the mood isn’t right. You can’t tell if what you’re writing is good or bad while you’re writing it.
Write when the book sucks and it isn’t going anywhere. Just keep writing. It doesn’t suck. Your conscious is having a panic attack because it doesn’t believe your subconscious knows what it’s doing.
Stop in the middle of a sentence, leaving a rough edge for you to start from the next day — that way, you can write three or five words without being “creative” and before you know it, you’re writing.
Write even when the world is chaotic. You don’t need a cigarette, silence, music, a comfortable chair, or inner peace to write. You just need ten minutes and a writing implement.

What strategy, style, or method of writing works best for you? Which author(s) advice do you find most helpful? Feel free to share your own tips for writing as well.

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Nov 5 2010

750 Words

by Jesse M

November is upon us, have you started on that novel yet? That’s right, once again it is National Novel Writing Month. Beginning November 1st, participants (over 165,000 in 2009!) attempt to write a 50,000 word novel from scratch, completing it by midnight, November 30th. We’ve blogged about National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo for short) here on DCPLive before, so this year I’ve decided to introduce an alternative, for those daunted by the prospect of churning out a 175 page novel in under 30 days.

That alternative is 750words, a website whose purpose is to help facilitate the writing process. The idea is based on a concept from The Artist’s Way : A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity called morning pages. The creator of the site explains:

Morning pages are three pages of writing done every day, typically encouraged to be in “long hand”, typically done in the morning, that can be about anything and everything that comes into your head. It’s about getting it all out of your head, and is not supposed to be edited or censored in any way. The idea is that if you can get in the habit of writing three pages a day, that it will help clear your mind and get the ideas flowing for the rest of the day.

The site makes it easy by offering features such as automatic scrolling and saving as you write and a word counting function which informs you when you’ve reached the goal of 750 words (As the site explains “250 words per page is considered to be the standard accepted number of words per page. So, three standard pages are about 750 words.“). Try it out, and maybe by next year you’ll be ready for the 50,000 word NaNoWriMo challenge.

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I have to thank DCPLive’s own Jimmy for blogging about National Novel Writing Month last year because now the portmanteau “NaNoWriMo” is forever lodged into my brain. I ran out of time last year before I could reach the 50,000 word count (the number of words necessary to claim novel-writing success on the official website). Also, I just really couldn’t resist the urge to chuck the ideas that I grew frustrated with while racing the NaNoWriMo clock, thus completely missing the point of this particular exercise in freewriting and perseverance. So I’m going to give it another shot this year (though I’m now down by four days). So…thanks, Jimmy!

There are several books in DCPL to help you along the path to creating and finessing the novel of your dreams. Here are two that I like so far:

The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways To Bring Fiction To Life by Noah Lukeman: After you hammer out your NaNoWriMo novella, you may be wondering how to make it readable (and perhaps even enjoyable) to the masses. This is a great little book full of helpful hints and practical exercises for developing characters and plot.

Your Novel Proposal: From Creation to Contract by Blythe Camenson and Marshall J.Cook: Now that you’ve drafted a winning manuscript, take a look at this book. I really like the fact that it provides in-depth guides to conquering the more administrative aspects of authorship such as searching for an agent and submitting query letters. But first things first…let’s just make it through Novel Writing November and think about this other stuff later.

Happy Writing, ya’ll!

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Jun 3 2009

It’s a Wonderful Writing Life

by Jnai W

Summer is in full swing and many of us are planning fun and creative ways to enjoy the season. Whether one is embarking on the vacation of a lifetime, plotting a relaxing, economical “staycation” (check out Amanda‘s blog post for great ideas on the subject) or planning to Be Creative @ the Library with the little ones (DCPL plug: check!) summer is the perfect time to allow one’s imagination to run wild.

My creative outlet of choice is writing (big surprise!) and I’ve just picked up a wonderful little book on the subject called The Writing Life by Annie Dillard. It’s a slender read–111 pages that go by in a flash–full of passages on the thrills and challenges of following one’s muse. The Writing Life touches various aspects of the writer’s task such as finding inspiration, the physical work of writing and even what it feels like when an idea goes awry or doesn’t develop in the way that one hopes.  This is a book about writing but I think it can apply to any endeavor of one’s creativity or passion. So follow your hearts, be creative and, if you’ve got some time, pick up this enjoyable, bestselling book at the Library.


Nov 18 2008

Your Life’s Journal

by Jnai W

I was at a loss for ideas to blog about so I decided to turn to my journal for inspiration. That’s when it occurred to me that journaling–good, old fashioned, pen-to-paper journaling–might be a good topic. Keeping a journal can be very therapeutic and invigorating. It can help you gain perspective about any situation or event. Writing is also an incredible outlet for your emotions, your joys, your frustrations or triumphs.

Journaling has helped me to navigate through the momentous and challenging year that was and is 2008, from its historic Presidential election down to the economic crisis, journal keeping is quite a rewarding practice and simple to begin. A small (or several small, in my case), inexpensive notebook and a nice free-flowing ink pen are all you need. In my opinion, you needn’t fret over skipping a day here and there, even though writing just a little everyday is quite habit-forming. And don’t worry about addressing the pages of your new pastime as “Dear Diary”: your notebook won’t hold it against you.

Here is some suggested reading here at DCPL that may carry you along the path of your life’s journal:

Note To Self: On Keeping a Journal and Other Dangerous Pursuits by  Samara O’Shea (Collins Living)

The Heroin Diaries by Nikki Sixx (VH1 Books): This book actually got me into the habit of journaling. If the Motley Crue bassist can use his journals to gain perspective on life why can’t anyone else?

With Pen in Hand: The Healing Power of Writing by Henriette Anne Klauser (Perseus Publishing)

The Broke Diaries: The Completely True and Hilarious Misadventures of a Good Girl Gone Broke by Angela Nissel (Villard Books) : Author Nissel journals her way through her cash-strapped college years…and gets a book deal out of it.  Perhaps you’ve got literary gold between the pages of your diary.


Oct 30 2008

NaNoWriMo: Ready? Set? Write!

by Jimmy L

November is National Novel Writing Month (often abbreviated as NaNoWriMo). If you’ve always wanted to write a novel, but didn’t have the courage to do it, here is your chance! Here’s the basics: throughout November, people sign up on the NaNoWriMo webpage to accept this challenge. Then from Nov 1 through Nov 30, their goal is to write a 175 page (50,000 word) novel. This is a national effort, so nobody’s alone.  The NaNoWriMo website acts as a support network, connecting writers through forums, resources, and peptalks (given by acclaimed writers like Philip Pullman!).

One of the main ideas behind the project is this: don’t worry about quality, focus on quantity (the revision and tune-up process comes later, maybe in December?). Their webpage states “The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.”

This year they’ve added a Young Writers Program component to their usual challenge: “our Young Writers Program allows participants who are 17 years old and younger to set reasonable, yet challenging, word-count goals.”

[read the rest of this post…]

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