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While I’ve never heard of some of these titles, mainly due to me not being much of a mystery fan, I must heartily agree that these would be a wonderful addition to your queue of books to read this spring and summer.

I’m going to give The Free loaders a chance.

As well as one other, I’m trying to decide between Dead, She Was Beautiful or Bare Trap. I like the way Dead, She was Beautiful’s title reads but I like the sexy legs on the cover of Bare Trap.

What do you think?

People probably describe me as a literature snob. In fact, I know I have had arguments about this often. I usually talk about how much I hate twilight or chick lit and how terrible Stephanie Meyers’ writing is without ever having read more than a few excerpts. Long excerpts, but I haven’t read the entire book, nor the entire series.

However, I have been thinking about my hatred of certain pop fiction and I think I should give one book a chance. And I will let you , the reader, choose the popular fiction book that I read. I’m hoping that I am pleasantly surprised.

I’ve left the poll open to other suggestions so that if some independent romance novelist wants me to review their book, if they get enough friends to come to this blog and vote. If you don’t vote, you don’t have a voice. So come on and pick your favorite book, just remember no literature, only fiction, I want James Patterson’s, Nora Jones’, Stephanie Meyers’. I want you to suggest Romance, Werewolf and Vampire teen fiction, Lawyer Thrillers, and Chick Lit mommy dramas. The only caveat is that I have to be able to find the book on Amazon, I really prefer to buy my books there, it’s quick and easy.

And I promise I will base my review on the book, I won’t compare it to Colum McCann or Junot Diaz. I will evaluate it on the strength of the novel, the style that the author is trying to portray, how engaging it is, how much work it required to get me to finish the book, how memorable it is, and how likely I would be to recommend it to someone I like.

I want to apologize, I normally write more. I had gotten you used to a near daily post and have let it dwindle to about once a week. That isn’t what I had wanted to do and I want to get back on track.

As for my NaNoWriMo book, it’s terribly below par, everyone is at 30K and I’m sitting at a lowly 10,000 words. I’m going to make it up. If I can manage to write nearly 3,500 words per day. I know I can pump out 1,200 words in 45 minutes to an hour so It should be about three hours of writing per day to get back on track by the end of the month. So I’m going to stop being a lazy jerk, stop believing in writer’s block, and start writing.

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Welcome to Week Two of “Why Am I Putting Myself Through This Insanity?” otherwise known as NaNoWriMo. We all know the tag: “November 1st–30th. Thirty days and nights of literary abandon!” And when you see it put that way, your mind instantly snapped to this image of people sitting around a modern day Algonquin Round Table, drinks by everyone’s side and laptops and tables at the ready. And there you are, a brand new wordsmith ready to take the World of Letters by storm.

Flickr Photo: Courtesy of Laineys Repertoire

And, really, how hard can it be? 50,000 words in 30 days. You only need to write 1,666 words a day. Easy-peasy! Right?

Except here it is, 7 days in (as I write this), and you’re sitting on a collection of electronic scribblings amounting to around 3 to 5 thousand words, and you’re looking hard, very hard at that stats graph that said, right now, this very moment, you’re suppose to have 11,666 words in your novel, because, hey, how hard is it to do 1,666 words a day.

There are many emotions coursing through your mind and body. You want to chuck it all and post on your NaNo Author’s page, “No mas, no mas!” and hop on the X-Box and fire up that first person shooter and start gunning down everything in sight.

Or you’re holding your head in your hands trying to figure out why your story went sidewise, and why you’re struggling with this immense writer’s block.

Or you’re staring blankly at the screen, not caring that the words aren’t moving, that they aren’t doing anything, and your fingers won’t dance across the keyboard like the did the first couple of days when you possessed all this enthusiasm for your soon-to-be-earth shattering novel, and the thought that continues to swirl about in your brain is, “What ever in the world possessed me to do something this stupid?”

You want to quit. Every logical argument you can muster says you’re 5,000 words behind where you’re suppose to be, and if you want to catch up you’re gonna have to crank out 3,500 words a day to make a dent in the slush, and since you’re not Philip K. Dick with a room full of speed and the ability to type like an insane ferret, you just know you can’t ever make this thing that you wanted to create work.

You want to quit.

You know what? You shouldn’t.

Wait, let me correct that last statement: You can’t.

A little background here, first. I’ve been trying to break into publishing for decades. I started with a creative writing class in 1986, I joined a writer’s group, and I began submitting short stories the next year. Everything I sent in—maybe 7 stories, total—was rejected.

Okay, so maybe short stories isn’t my thing. So I started on a novel, one that I felt was going to be great, one that was very close to my own heart. I wrote 500 words every morning before I left for work; I kept very extensive notes; I did research to cover those areas of knowledge I didn’t have.

I got way into this story: about 250,000 words deep. And then I quit. I couldn’t take it any more. I was in way over my head, and I kept telling myself that eventually I’d get back to it—

I did. 10 years later.

I decided I was going to dust it off and do a rewrite. And I started. And I did. And I even added another 25,000 words to it.

And I quit. Again. Why? I can give you any number of reasons, but the one that hit me the hardest was this: I actually believed I didn’t have what it takes to be a writer.

And so I let my story languish. As I did the other stories I had in my head.

So, last year about this time (Nov, 2010, if you’re keeping score) I took a couple of online writing classes. And I started to get the urge to write again. I eventually hooked up with someone from my first class, and we discussed writing, we talked writing, we even wrote a few things here and there.

Then in August I received an email. It was concerning contributing a ghost story for a Halloween anthology, and I was asked if I wanted to. The how of why I got this email is irrelevant: the truth was someone wanted me to write for them. And I thought about it, and decided I wanted to try something different. I wanted to write about the supernatural, about ghosts in Indonesia.

So I did my research. I started looking at locations, I read up on the paranormal from that area, and I started writing.

After three weeks I had a story—24,000 words of a story. This was a little more than what the people who put the anthology together wanted, so I decided, “Hey, why don’t I go the self-publish route and put it out there myself?” And so I did: I set it up on Smashwords, and it was accepted for premium publication, and the story is up on Barnes & Nobles right now. Sure, I’ve only sold, as of right now, 4 copies, but you know what? I’m proud that I have.

But lets get back to that first novel . . ..

I showed it to a friend, the person I knew from my first online writing class. She looked parts of it over, and she was flabbergasted. “You have something here,” she told me. “You can’t let this die. You have to finish it.”

Here was something that has sat in limbo for 20 years and another person is telling me, “This is great. You have to finish it.” And I believe them. I want to. I want to finish it soon . . . after I’m done with my NaNo novel.

And it’s the same thing with what you have before you, on your computer. That NaNo Novel, right now it’s still at 4.000 words and change, and it’s mocking you. It’s saying, “Are you you still there? Are you going to finish me? It’s really hard to do, you know. So I won’t blame you when you leave . . .” And you want to do just that. You want to walk away.

Because it is easy. And if there’s one thing I’ve discovered it’s that walking away is the easiest thing in the world. I did it all my life with my writing and no matter how many times I told myself I was a “writer”, there was always the question in the back of my mind, “If you’re a writer, why haven’t you finished that novel, Sparky?”

And then, when I was thinking about what I wanted to say here, along comes a post from one of my Facebook buddies, and it’s a link to one of his buddies, guy by the name of Jim Butcher. If you like to read about wizards and the such, then you know him; if not, look up his buddy Harry Dresden—

Anyway, Butcher writes about the difficulty of being an aspiring author, much like the majority of us deep in the NaNo morass. And he has a lot of great words of wisdom. Jim’s also got a lot of touch love, but the one that hits me the most is this, and I paraphrase:

When aspiring authors quit writing, they Kill Their Dream. And YOU, the aspiring author, are the only one who can do that.

We all have our reasons for being in NaNo. For me, I have an idea, and this is one way to get it out. I know it’s hard; I’ve been busting my butt to writing. And I’m not just running up a word count, but like the majority of you, I’m writing.

But I also know NaNo isn’t Richard Bachman’s The Long Walk. There isn’t a half-track with solders behind you ready to put a bullet in your head if you fall behind; if you don’t make 50k come 12:01 AM on 1 December, your world will not end.

That novel though . . . do you want it to die?

There are many reasons to quit writing this week. And there’ll be a lot of reasons next week as well. And come Thanksgiving week, oi! All sorts of reasons why you should quit.

But there is always one very good reason you shouldn’t.

You are building a dream. Piece by piece, you are building a dream. And you might not “win” at the end of the month, but you have something that needs to grow. And it needs to live. And you need to finish it.

We all got dreams, and during my lifetime I’ve killed far too many of them.

Flickr courtesy of: mpclemens

Don’t make the same mistake.

Hey, is that your novel I hear calling your name? It’s probably lonely.

Go do some writing. You are going to thank yourself later.

This has been a guest blog by Ray Frazee writer of Wide Awake but Dreaming.
His about me states: At one time I thought I was this nut with a problem . . . I’m still nuts, but that’s not my problem.
I still look for work, but I’d rather write because, well–can you take Corporate America these days?
My friends keep me honest and they keep me writing.  I’ve finished my latest story and I’m starting work on two novels.  Trust me: my best is yet to come.
I am a Roleplaying God . . . Have Dice, Will Modify.  The ass clowns I’ve gamed with in the past–and you know who you are–can simply suck it.
How’s it going to turn out?  One day I’ll let you know.