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1. Merriam-Webster Names ‘Culture’ Word of the Year

Merriam-Webster Cloud

Merriam-Webster have chosen “culture” as the Word of the Year for the United States.

The other nine words that appear on this “top 10″ list include nostalgia, insidious, legacy, feminism, je ne sais quoi, innovation, surreptitious, autonomy, and morbidity. The team posted a word cloud image featuring all ten words on Twitter (embedded above). The web edition of this dictionary has listed several definitions for “culture”:

  • The act of developing the intellectual and moral faculties especially by education.
  • Expert care and training.
  • Enlightenment and excellence of taste acquired by intellectual and aesthetic training.
  • The integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations.
  • The act or process of cultivating living material.

Here’s more from Merriam-Webster.com: “Culture is a big word at back-to-school time each year, but this year lookups extended beyond the academic calendar. The term conveys a kind of academic attention to systematic behavior and allows us to identify and isolate an idea, issue, or group: we speak of a ‘culture of transparency’ or ‘consumer culture.’ Culture can be either very broad (as in ‘celebrity culture’ or ‘winning culture’) or very specific (as in ‘test-prep culture’ or ‘marching band culture’).”

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2. Lauren Oliver Shares Her Thoughts on the Traits of Fiction Writers

Lauren OliverLast week, Lauren Oliver appeared at the “Epic Reads” panel hosted by Books of Wonder.

During the event, Oliver shared the three traits she feels that fiction writers must possess: (1) great self-awareness (2) radical empathy and (3) a deep interest in human beings. Do you agree with her?

Oliver also divulged that her book Panic was inspired by a Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale called “The Boy Who Left Home to Find Out About the Shivers.” Towards the end of the night, she revealed that she has a number of projects in-the-works: a young adult novel entitled Vanishing Girls, a middle grade series called The Curiosity House, and another young adult story featuring clones.

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3. NaNoWriMo Tip #18: Use Strong Metaphors

Writers are often advised to “show, not tell.” That’s why metaphors can be so very helpful.

The animated video above features a TED-Ed lesson called “The Art of The Metaphor.” When it comes to crafting a strong metaphor, keep in mind that “a metaphor isn’t true or untrue in any ordinary sense; metaphors are art, not science.”

This is our eighteenth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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4. NaNoWriMo Tip #19: Keep The Reader’s Perspective in Mind

Some writers feel that they must create the story that they themselves want to read. Does that mean you should disregard your potential audience?

In the video embedded above, The Fault in Our Stars novelist John Green advises that one should remember the reader’s perspective while writing. By putting yourself in the reader’s shoes, you will be able to figure out what are the most interesting parts about your story.

This is our nineteenth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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5. NaNoWriMo Tip #20: Learn From 5 Established Authors

the guardianNaNoWriMo participants have less than 24 hours to complete their project. For our final tip, we’re sharing some of our favorite lessons from five established authors who contributed to The Guardian’sTen Rules For Writing Fiction” piece.

01. “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.” — Elmore Leonard

02. “Have regrets. They are fuel. On the page they flare into desire.” — Geoff Dyer

03. “Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.” — Margaret Atwood

04. “Remember you love writing. It wouldn’t be worth it if you didn’t. If the love fades, do what you need to and get it back.” — A.L. Kennedy

05. “Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.” — Neil Gaiman

This is our twentieth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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6. Follow-Up NaNoWriMo By Playing the ‘Hot to Be a Writer’ Board Game

latimesDid you take on the National Novel Writing Month challenge? Whether or not you finished your 50,000-word manuscript, we suspect that some of you may be curious about the career path to becoming a successful author.

Earlier this year, journalists Joy Press and Carolyn Kellogg conducted an informal survey and collected more than 200 responses at the The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. This data, illustrations from artist Paul Duginski, and programming from graphic designer Jon Schleuss were used to create the “how to be a writer” digital board game.

Some of the steps that aspiring writers can take include starting a diary, going to the Yaddo writer’s retreat, revising, signing up for a writing class with James Franco, and winning a National Book Award. What do you think?

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7. NaNoWriMo Tip #13: Practice Positive Psychology

How well one maintains a positive outlook could make or break a NaNoWriMo project. Shawn Achor, a positive psychology expert, gave a TED talk called “The Happy Secret to Better Work.”

In the video embedded above, Achor recommends setting aside at least 20 minutes every day for the following five activities: identifying three reasons for gratitude, exercise, meditation, writing in a journal, and performing acts of kindness. What methods do you use to cultivate happiness?

This is our thirteenth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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8. NaNoWriMo Tip #14: Pare Down the Districtions

lifehackNaNoWriMo participants have 10 more days to complete their projects. To give writers that extra edge, we suggest paring down distractions.

According to lifehack.org, some methods that can help with reducing distractions include: cleaning up one’s workspace, arranging some alone time, and setting a timer for both writing and breaks. Do you have any further suggestions to add?

This is our fourteenth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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9. Oxford Dictionaries Names ‘Vape’ Word of the Year

Oxford DictionariesThe Oxford Dictionaries have chosen “vape” as the Word of the Year for the United States.

According to the OxfordWords blog, this word “originated as an abbreviation of vapour or vaporize. The OxfordDictionaries.com definition was added in August 2014: the verb means ‘to inhale and exhale the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device,’ while both the device and the action can also be known as a vape. The associated noun vaping is also listed.”

As electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) rise in popularity, linguists predict that usage of word will only continue to increase. Some of the words that made it to the short list include “budtender,” “normcore,” and “slacktivism.” In past years, the organization picked “selfie,” “gif,” and “refudiate” to receive this honor.

 

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10. NaNoWriMo Tip #15: Consult Cheat Sheets

blue color

NaNoWriMo participants can use all the help they can get! That’s why we encourage consulting with cheat sheets—check out these three links:

(1) Author’s Craft cheat sheet from the Hello Literacy blog (via Shannon Ford’s pinterest board)

(2) The Hero’s Journey map from Storyboard That

(3) Ingrid Sundberg’s Color Thesaurus

This is our fifteenth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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11. Oxford Dictionaries Team Creates a ‘Word of the Year’ Infographic

Oxford DictionariesEarlier this week, the executives behind the Oxford Dictionaries announced that “vape” was chosen as the 2014 Word of the Year. With the popularity of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) on the rise, usage of this word has increased.

Over at the OxfordWords blog, the team posted an infographic to share “the history of vape and why we’ve chosen it for Word of the Year – as well as looking at previous winners of Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year over the past decade.” We’ve embedded the entire graphic after the jump for you to explore further.
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12. Hey indie ebook authors, here’s how to succeed

Smashwords

Smashwords

Attention, indie ebook authors. Mark Coker at Smashwords wants you to know that there’s never been a better time to be you. He writes, “Thanks to an ever-growing global market for your ebooks, your books are a couple clicks away from over one billion potential readers on smart phones, tablets and e-readers. In the world of ebooks, the playing field is tilted to the indie author’s advantage.”

Then, the wake-up call. Coker goes on to report that “the gravy train of exponential sales growth is over,” with indie (self-published) authors seeing “significant” sales decline at Amazon, especially since the July launch of Kindle Unlimited. He had predicted the slowdown and attributes it to the glut of high-quality low-cost ebooks, the increasing rate of ebook supply outpacing demand, and the slowing, much-discussed transition from print to ebooks.

However, all is not lost. He offers tips on how to succeed in this new ebook environment. You’ll want to see his entire piece at Smashwords, as space constraints require editing them down. Here is a short take on Mark Coker’s 20:

1. Take the long view; focus on aggressive platform building.
2. Good isn’t good enough. Are you bringing your best game?
3. Write more, publish more, get better.
4. Diversify your distribution.
5. Network with other indie authors.
6. Publish and promote multi-author box set collaborations; you can build your base.
7. Leverage professional publishing tools, like preorder, to your advantage.
8. Best practices; there are seven, and Mark gives a good summary in his blog. Your fellow indie authors pioneered these practices, so listen up.
9. You’re running a business: be nice, ethical, honest, and humble. It pays.
10. Pinch your pennies; practice expense control.
11. Manage your time.
12. Take risks, experiment, and fail often.
13. Dream big dreams; aim high. Salvador Dali said: “Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.”
14. Be delusional.
15. Embrace your doubters.
16. Celebrate your fellow authors’ success. Their success is your success.
17. Remember that past success is no guarantee of your future success.
18. Never quit.
19. Own your future.
20. Know that your writing is important.

I’ll just repeat that last one: Know that your writing is important.

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13. NaNoWriMo Tip #16: Write What You Don’t Know

Do you want to take your NaNoWriMo story in an unfamiliar direction? Back in 2013, Toni Morrison and Junot Díaz headlined a “Live From the NYPL” event.

The video embedded above features the entire conversation. During the discussion, Morrison shared this thought:

“I tell my students; I tell everybody this. When I begin a creative writing class I say, I know you’ve heard all your life, ‘Write what you know.’ Well I am here to tell you, You don’t know nothing. So do not write what you know. Think up something else. Write about a young Mexican woman working in a restaurant and can’t speak English. Or write about a famous mistress in Paris who’s down on her luck.”

This is our sixteenth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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14. NaNoWriMo Tip #17: 3 Skills to Help With Writing Dialogue

What helps to bring characters to life? Dialogue!

The animated video above features a TED-Ed lesson called “Three Anti-Social Skills to Improve Your Writing.” Educator Nadia Kalman prescribes the following skills:

(1) Eavesdropping.

(2) Treat fake people (a.k.a. your characters) as though they were real human beings.

(3) Mutter to yourself.

This is our seventeenth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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15. NaNoWriMo Tip #2: Get Some Pep

Kami GarciaNeed some pep in your step? Every year, the organizers behind National Novel Writing Month reach out to authors to write “pep talks” so that participants can turn to a source of encouragement as they work on this daunting task.

Some of the writers who have contributed essays this year include Divergent trilogy author Veronica Roth250 Things You Should Know About Writing author Chuck Wendig, and Beautiful Creatures series co-author Kami Garcia (pictured, via). Here’s an excerpt from Garcia’s piece:

“Give your friend Doubt a name, and then block his calls. I’m not a fast writer. I type with three fingers, and there’s a video on YouTube to prove it. The way I finish my novels is one word at a time. Don’t focus on 50,000 words or 30 days. Just write one word at a time, and focus on hitting your word-count goal one day at a time.”

This is our second NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in a single month, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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16. NaNoWriMo Tip #3: Plant Some Greenery On Your Desk

desk plantWhen tackling a difficult project, looking after one’s well-being can mean the difference between success and failure. If you are trying to write a NaNoWriMo book, perhaps it’s time to put down a plant on your desk.

Scientific research suggests that adding a little greenery to your work environment could help with improving and maintaining wellness. Some of the healthy benefits include clean air, stress reduction, and better focus.

Here’s more from The Huffington Post: “Research shows that keeping plants at our desks can boost our well-being at work – something that’s desperately needed when we hit that 3 p.m. slump each day. Plus, there’s a plethora of research showing that spending time in nature or amidst the color green can lift our moods and boost creativity. With so many perks, why not bring those benefits indoors?”

This is our third NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in a single month, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month. (Photo Credit: thechosenrebel)

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17. NaNoWriMo Tip #4: 3 Methods to Trigger Story Ideas

Oliver Jeffers 200Before one word is written down, every National Novel Writing Month project starts with a single idea. The question now becomes, what methods can writers use to trigger story ideas? We’ve collected a list of three helpful methods.

1. The Huffington Post suggests giving “freewriting” a try. This exercise entails that people write without adhering to any sort of structure or restrictions which can induce creativity.

2. SHOUTmkt’s infographic, “Simple Ideas to Stimulate Creativity,” recommends that writers “do something different.” The intention behind this act is to break up monotony and allow for new notions to surface.

3. Don’t be a stickler to a schedule and always carry something to write with! When we sat down for an interview with children’s book creator Oliver Jeffers (pictured, via), he pointed out that “you can’t plan creativity.”

This is our fourth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in a single month, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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18. NaNoWriMo Tip #5: Start With a Memorable Introduction

How should you start your NaNoWriMo project? Locking down a memorable introduction may be the best course of action.

The animated video above features a TED-Ed lesson called “The Power of a Great Introduction.” Towards the end, educator Carolyn Mohr shares this warning: “If you’re bored while writing, your reader will be bored while reading.”

This is our fifth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in a single month, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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19. NaNoWriMo Tip #6: Get Comfortable With Telling Lies

When author Mac Barnett gave a talk at TEDx SonomaCounty, he described his occupation as writing “honest lies” for children. Barnett is not the first (nor will he be the last) to point out that being an artist sometimes requires spinning a few tall tales.

To help NaNoWriMo participants get in the right mind frame, we’ve embedded an animated video above that focuses on “The Language of Lying.” We’ve also collected three tips from this TED-Ed lesson:

(1) “Liars reference themselves less when making deceptive statements.”

(2) “Liars tend to be more negative.”

(3) “Liars typically explain events in simple terms.”

This is our sixth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in a single month, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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20. NaNoWriMo Tip #7: Always Carry a Notepad

evernoteIdeas can come at any time. All writers, that certainly includes NaNoWriMo participants, should get in the habit of carrying around a notepad to jot down their thoughts at a moment’s notice.

These days, there are other ways to doodle and scribble besides using pen and paper. The Evernote team recently released the Penultimate app for iOS mobile device users; the developers made it a mission to give users the “most natural digital handwriting experience on iPad.”

This is our seventh NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in a single month, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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21. NaNoWriMo Tip #8: Follow The Hero’s Journey

How does one craft a hero? Scholar Joseph Campbell studied thousands of myths and found that a number of them follow a pattern that he calls the “hero’s journey.”

In the animated video above, educator Matthew Winkler explains this concept in detail. This TED-Ed lesson provides examples of famous characters whose stories follow the “hero’s journey” including Katniss Everdeen, Harry Potter, and Frodo Baggins.

This is our eighth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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22. NaNoWriMo Tip #9: Banish Away Self-Doubt

tiny buddhaThe Andrew Lownie Literary Agency, a London-based company, asked 25 authors to describe their writing habits. Journalist Adrian Addison confesses that he has to constantly battle “that voice in my head, that bastard who tells me…Who the f’k you think you are, Shakespeare?”

Many human beings claim to share Addison’s plight with their own internal “Debbie Downer.” For the writers who are working away at their NaNoWriMo projects, this judgmental voice can be a great hindrance. We’ve rounded up three recommendations from Tiny Buddha on how to cast away self-doubt:

(1) Identify and ease your doubts.

(2) Trust and love yourself.

(3) Give yourself permission to try…and try again.

This is our ninth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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23. NaNoWriMo Tip #10: 3 Ways to Tackle Writer’s Block

Murakami QuoteEven the most seasoned authors tangle with writer’s block. We’ve collected five methods to help with this affliction so that NaNoWriMo participants can continue to progress with the projects.

(1) iPad users can try out the “Unstuck” app to access digital tools and encouragement from an empathetic community.

(2) Grammy Award winner Sting was able to beat his writer’s block by drawing inspiration from other people’s stories. The memory of the the shipyard workers he knew from his youth lead him to write the songs for The Last Ship musical.

(3) American Born Chinese graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang forces himself to write “horrible, amateurish, grammatically incorrect, barely comprehensible sentences.” At some point, “ the decent sentences start coming out.”

This is our tenth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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24. NaNoWriMo Tip #11: 3 Ways to Use Dramatic Irony

Is your National Novel Writing Month plot stuck? Maybe you need to add in a little irony.

The TED-Ed team partnered with educator Christopher Warner to create videos about both verbal irony and dramatic irony (embedded above). Below, we’ve rounded up three tips on how to incorporate dramatic irony into a story.

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25. Scribner Launches a New Online Magazine

ScribnerScribner, an imprint at Simon & Schuster, has launched a new digital publication called Scribner Magazine.

Here’s more from the press release: “Inspired by the publisher’s celebrated sister publication Scribner’s Magazine (1887-1939), but reimagined for the 21st century reader, Scribner Magazine will feature original writing and interactive media, along with written and audio book excerpts, photo galleries, author-curated music playlists, bookseller reviews, and articles that offer a glimpse inside the world of publishing. Scribner Magazine also integrates Scribner’s popular Twitter feed, and the site highlights current Scribner book news and author events, so consumers can stay informed about their favorite writers.”

The first issue features a diverse range of content such as rare photographs from the publication of Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises: The Hemingway Library Editionan audio recording of the “Something That Needs Nothing” short story written and read by Miranda July, and pieces from several high profile contributors. Novelist Anthony Doerr wrote an essay about the writing process for All The Light We Cannot See, actor James Franco reveals how he became a writer in an essay, and Betsy Burton, a bookseller from The King’s English Bookshop, penned a review of Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín.

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