Why NANOWRIMO?

Have you ever had a story idea that’s been floating around in your head but you didn’t have the time to write it? Well look no further. November is just around the corner, which means you are just in time to finally get that novel out from your head and onto the page. How? NANOWRIMO.

NANOWRIMO stands for National Novel Writing Month. On July 21st 1999, NANOWRIMO was launched by a group of freelance writers in the San Francisco Bay area who sought to find a solution for finishing the first draft of their novels. Their solution? Write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. In the following years, NANOWRIMO has become a global writing event where thousands of writers from around the world use this month to write the stories they’ve wanted to tell. No experience required.

Now, I signed up for NANOWRIMO for the first-time last November and I didn’t “win”. Reaching 50,000 words for the projects I was working on was very unlikely since I was attempting to write short stories. For most, winning NANOWRIMO isn’t about reaching that word count. Winning NANOWRIMO means dedicating yourself to write a story no matter how many words you end of producing. Whether you finish or not does not determine if you win. Daring to commit and try to write for the month is a win in itself.

So why NANOWRIMO? You may argue that you don’t have the time. You may be overwhelmed with the prospect of writing 50,000 words. You may have never written a creative piece in your life and don’t know where to start. But I’ll tell you where to start. Create your account and declare your writing project. You not only can track your progress with your account throughout and beyond the month of November, but you will be joining a community of writers from near and far that you can lean on and learn from. The Kitchener-Waterloo region has its own chapter with liaisons that plan events throughout the month. You can access the Google calendar by joining the chapter with your account. In fact, WPL has a series of writing programs this October and November that writers can look to during NANOWRIMO.

NANOWRIMO is a challenge. There will be days where you’re flying high and days where you will get stuck. Its stern deadline will help you put words on a page for a story you otherwise wouldn’t have written. Yet it’s a challenge that helps us learn about who we are and what we care about through the storyteller in all of us.

Dare to try? Check out nanowrimo.org and the WPL’s programs for writers and aspiring writers to explore the writer in all of us.

— Eleni Z.

The Language of Thorns

I confess – I love fairy tales. I love mermaids. I love witches. I love goblins, golems, trolls and elves. I especially love animals that talk. Add in a few magic spells and I’m hooked. There is just something about how fairy tales are written that I can’t resist. There is a benevolent hero with an impossible problem and just when everything seems to be lost *poof!* there is some sort of magical resolution and everyone lives happily ever after.  The heroes always win and villains always lose.

When Leigh Bardugo’s latest book The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic (illustrated by Sara Kipin) crossed my desk, I was thrilled. It’s not often that I find fairy tales written for grownups. Not that this book is hard to miss. The front cover is adorned in bright, detailed artwork. Inside, every page has a vivid illustration. It is worth peeking through just for the art alone.

The Language of Thorns is compromised of six short stories that have similarities to popular fairy tales. You will recognize elements of classic tales such as the Nutcracker and the Little Mermaid. However, each story has a new twist. The princess doesn’t always marry the prince. The hero doesn’t always turn up to save the day. But each story will transport you to a new world of enchanted woods and mythical creatures.

Ayama and the Thorn Wood
“Interesting things only happen to pretty girls.”

A poor farmer is blessed with two daughters: one beautiful and one plain. The beautiful daughter is raised to marry a prince. The plain daughter is sent into the woods to make a treaty with a beast.

The Too-Clever Fox
“Just because you escape one trap, doesn’t mean you will escape the next.”

Koja the Fox has a talent for evading death. Armed with a silver tongue, he has outwitted every predator in the forest. One day a hunter enters the woods and Koja’s wit is put to the test.

The Witch of Duva
“Dark things have a way of slipping in through narrow spaces.

A classic fairy tale turned upside down and inside out. Witches, stepmothers and heroines have their roles reversed in this tale about missing children.

Little Knife
“But as you leave that dark gap in the trees behind, remember that to use a thing is not to own it.”

The old Duke is blessed with a daughter of extraordinary beauty. He schemes to marry her off to the richest man in the kingdom.

The Soldier Prince                                                                                                                       “This is the problem with even lesser demons. They come to your doorstep in velvet coats and polished shoes. They tip their hats and smile and demonstrate good table manners. They never show you their tails.”

Beware of gifts from the clocksmith. Clara could play with dolls for hours. However, when she’s given a wooden toy soldier, strange things begin to happen.

When Water Sang Fire
“I was not made to please princes.”

There have always been whispers about Ulla. That she was different somehow. But no one could deny the power of her voice. Ulla’s fate is forever changed when her song catches the attention of Prince Roffe.

Curl up with The Language of Thorns and live amongst mermaids, witches and golems for an evening. It will leave you feeling happily ever after.

-Lesley L.

What I love about working at WPL

You know what I love about working here at the library? It’s the… People. I bet you thought that I was going to say books. I do love the books. Books have always been very good friends of mine but in an hour or so of working here at the desk I can have such great conversations on so many different things this comes from the people who visit the library. You know, it’s pretty quiet in here before we open the doors every day. On a recent afternoon I enjoyed chats about classic action movies, a great new mystery book with a suspect known for wearing a crooked hat, and a shared love for short stories. This is the kind of lively dialogue you just don’t get anywhere else.

On that afternoon I was speaking on the phone to a customer about the good old days of Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis.  You know, when you search for films on the catalogue you can narrow it down by the name of the actor so it can be a treasure trove for the customer who is in the mood to take a walk down memory lane and watch movies from someone’s back catalogue. After he and I had placed holds on some of the classics, like Rocky and Die Hard (of course), we also moved ahead a decade or two and he decided he would dip a toe into the world of Iron Man. I gave him my wholehearted recommendation for these films although confessed that I found that Marvel films are like potato chips, once you watch one, you find yourself wanting to watch another…

I was also talking to a customer about a new mystery novel called The Man in the Crooked Hat because we were agreeing about how much escapist pleasure there is in reading murder mysteries. There are many new ones each week – how do you pick a good one? This particular title caught my eye because of the improbability of searching for a suspect wearing a crooked hat. Surely even the least bright of all criminals would know to remove his hat after he committed a murder and was spotted by a detective? Is he so attached to his chapeau that he can’t bear to part with it? This book has snappy dialogue, the main character is a former police officer turned private detective so the gritty details are spot on, and there are twists to the mystery that I just never see coming. And the man with the hat?  Well, he is simply terrifying to me and I’ve had to stop reading it in the dark which comes at 5:00 every day so it’s limiting my reading time to lunch hours in our comforting staff room. Will the man keep wearing his hat to the end of the book? I just don’t know but Harry Dolan is fast becoming one of my favourite authors.

A discussion of a shared love of short stories began with talking about the movie You’ve Got Mail. This is one of the movies that I watch every year while I wrap presents and a library customer was agreeing that she felt it had a great holiday vibe and then we started talking about the book, Uncommon Type: Some Stories, that Tom Hanks had recently written. It is getting a lot of attention right now but short story collections don’t get as much love as they should. They really are the unsung heroes of our shelves! You can pick up one of these gems and find yourself transported into another world in just minutes. Perfection – you have low commitment, low stress and so much opportunity for distraction. Try Alice Munro’s short stories or for additional CanCon I also recommend Alistair MacLeod’s wonderful writing. We have short stories in collections from different time periods, some which are organized by country, and can even provide you a 2017 story collection with a tale narrated by a talking lion in James McBride’s Five-Carat Soul.  You have got to get your hands on some of these.

So many conversations we have here at the library begin as one thing, like talking about the movie ‘You’ve Got Mail’, and then turn into another, with two people sharing how much we both enjoy a the low commitment and high reward of a good short story.  The public library is vibrant and ever changing, like life, and that’s why I just love it.

-Penny M.