Author Archive : Abby

Why I keep participating in NaNoWriMo even though I always fail

by  | Category: It's here!
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I’m sure you’ve all noticed that it’s August. Which means that it’s the last month of summer (good news in my book but I know I’m not in the majority here). It means the TSRC party is coming up (BTW have you signed up yet? You really should).

For me, August also means that Camp NaNoWriMo just ended.

If you don’t know what that is, allow me to explain. NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, proper occurs every November. As the title suggests, the goal is to write a whole novel in one month. Camp NaNoWriMo is an extension of this that takes place in July, but the goal is the same.

People have been extremely successful with NaNoWriMO. I’ve heard E. K. Johnston and Rainbow Rowell (both of whom I love beyond words) praise it and the work they results they achieved while participating. And so I was inspired to try.

To date I have taken part in NaNoWriMo and it’s ilk a total of 4 times. And, as the title of this post implies, I have technically failed a total of 4 times. So… you know… every time I did it.

But come November I will be taking part again. Any here’s why:

It’s an amazing experience regardless of the outcome. I don’t want to get all mushy and clichéd and be all “it’s not the destination that matters but the journey,” but in this case (for me) that’s actually true. So while I never actually reached my goal, I learned a lot and achieved a lot. And at the end of each month I had written a lot, and there was more of my work than there was before. And that’s something.

This year’s Camp NaNoWriMo was the best yet. Yes, I “failed” again. My goal had started at 50,000 words, and I adjusted it to 20,000 halfway through (because 50,000 words in one month is insane and I am an awe of anyone who can achieve that) and still only wrote 10,000.

But at the same time, I wrote 10,000 words of a novel that I’ve been tinkering with for the last 10 years. That’s almost 2 full chapters that a month earlier only existed in my brain. I roughly outlined my entire novel and half of it in detail.

So while technically, I only achieved 50% of my goal, I actually managed so much more! So basically, I no longer think about it in terms of failing. It’s not just about the goal, it’s about the process and the work and the thrill you get while you’re writing.

Now, why have I just spent all this time praising my achievement? Well, because I think everyone who has ever thought about writing anything should try it out. And I know that a lot of you have. There’s time, you have until November to make up your mind. You can write whatever you want. It can be as private or as public as you want. You can keep it in a drawer or publish it on your blog, our Write It blog, on SELF-e or on Wattpad (like me). It’s completely up to you.

As for me, I just wanted to challenge you to take a leap with your writing. And no worries, I’ll remind you when November draws nearer.




Get Gloomy

by  | Category: It's here!, Randomness
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I know it’s exam time and everyone’s stressed and miserable, so I thought I’d share something fun with you guys. And I figured since misery loves company I’d share the best, most miserable thing I could think of… a card game.

I’m sure you’re wondering how a card game can be awesome, fun, hilarious and miserable all in the same time, so let me explain.

This is not just any old card game. This is Gloom: The Game of Inauspicious Incidents & Grave Consequences. (BTW, did you know you can check out games from the library now?)

Gloom combines character cards, action cards and storytelling, and in a wonderfully gloomy twist the winner of the game is the person with the least amount of points.

So how do you play?

Each player gets a family of characters (five character cards per family). All the characters and families are unique and weird and wonderful, but my personal favorite Dark’s Den of Deformity, (for no other reason than I used to want to run away and join the circus…though maybe not this circus). You decide who goes first by determining who has had the worst day.

Now that you have your family and you know whose day sucked most the game can begin. On your turn you make two plays, which at face value means you play two cards. The cards you play could be modifiers which effect your Self-Worth (or someone else’s if you so choose), event cards which make things happen, or untimely death cards…I think you know what those do. But what makes your two plays, and the whole game, so great is that you are obligated (and the rules state this) to explain how these things happen.

For example: If on my first play I put down the “was beaten by beggars” modifier on my character Samson O’Toole, The Bearded Man, not only does her Self Worth drop to -15 but I have to explain how she got into that situation. So I would tell you that the beggars came to the circus gates to, you know, beg for food and Samson challenged them to a game of cards and the beggars won which made him really sad because up to that point he thought he was quite the card shark. See What I did there? And if my second play is to put down the “was delighted by ducklings” modifiers on one of your characters, giving a self-worth of +10, you have to figure out how that happened (MWAHAHAHAHA mine is an evil laugh).

The game ends when a player successfully kills his or her entire family and the winner is the player with the lowest Self Worth.

All this to say that this is the BEST game on the planet and if you don’t believe me here is Will Wheaton and friends delightfully torturing characters:

Vaughan Teens Love Reading

by  | Category: What's Going On
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Hey you guys, I just wanted to take a moment and tell you about a really cool event that’s coming up soon, which I am taking part in and you should really come to too. Since I am not the most subtle of people I’m sure you’ve guessed (and the title states) that I am talking about Vaughan Teens Reading.

The facts are these: This even will be taking place on Friday, March 24th, at the Bathurst Clark Resource Library. That’s exactly two weeks from today, friends, make sure you’ll be there. Some of you may be coming with your classes during the day, 11am to 2pm, but if not the day will repeat itself from 2pm to 6pm (it’s like an awesome Groundhog Day scenario).

I know that just me telling you to come by might not be enough to convince you (I wish it would, guys, you can trust me). So now that I’ve gotten through the where and when of it, let me tell you what we will be doing on the day:

Basically, we are going to be celebrating you and the fact that you are awesome readers and people.

But also…

The library has invited two amazing, award winning Ontario authors who will speak and sign books.  So you will get to meet E.K. Johnson, the author of two 2017 White Pine nominated novels:  A Thousand Nights and of Exit, Pursued by a Bear. A Thousand Nights has also won the 2016 Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy, shortlisted for the GGs, and is a 2017 Carnegie nominee.

You will also hear from Erin Bow who wrote the 2017 White Pine nominee Scorpion Rules (and winner of the YA Book of the Year award, Canadian Library Association). She has also recently published Swan Riders, a companion to Scorpion Rules. Her novel Sorrow’s Knot won the 2014 Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy.

And that’s not all!! We’ve also invited the youth empowerment hip hop troupe UNITY to perform for you all. UNITY uses hip hop to improve young people’s lives there by creating healthier communities. Various artists on the UNITY roster will be performing beat boxing, graffiti art, breakdancing and spoken word poetry.

And on top of all that awesomeness, we will have a bunch of other activities throughout the library for you all.

So? Convinced now? Will you be there?

Come on, stop by BCRL on the 24th and release your inner book nerd with us!

Say yes to this!

by  | Category: New Music, Pop Culture
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I don’t think I’ve written about this on this blog before, but I am a HUGE Hamilton: An American Musical fan.

The stage door to the room where it happens

The stage door to the room where it happens


This is not hyperbole. I am addicted. I have proof too. I own the biography (and a book about that time when Hamilton and Burr joined forces on the first murder trial in American history), I own The Hamiltome (or by its other title Hamilton: A Revolution), I watched the documentary on PBS, I’ve seen every #Ham4Ham (one of them live. You can’t see me.. I’m standing next to the person who filmed this but you can hear me screaming.), I own the cast album and know every single lyric (I’m even featured on the Genius page). And then there’s also the fact that I’ve seen the show…with the original cast…twice. The second time was last February, I stood in the freezing cold with a friend for 7.5 hours for a chance to get standing room or canceled tickets. At one point Lin-Manuel Miranda came out of the theater, looked at us like we were insane (which we were) and wished us luck.


Me and Leslie Odom, Jr. (the original Aaron Burr… sir)

But while my experiences seeing the show were magical and I could go on and on about the whole thing, this is not actually the reason I am writing.

What I really want to know is…HAVE YOU LISTENED TO THE MIXTAPE YET?


If you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me explain.  The Hamilton Mixtape is a companion piece to the show and cast album. It features covers of tracks from the cast album, like Regina Spektor and Ben Folds singing “Dear Theodosia,” Usher singing “Wait For It,” Ja Rule and Ashanti singing “Helpless” and Sia and Queen Latifa singing “Satisfied” (if you have to listen to one song for the rest of your life let it be this one…and also watch Jonathan Groff’s reaction to it). The mixtape also includes cut songs from the show, either sung by Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Cabinet Battle #3”!!) or covers (Dessa’s “Congratulations” is amazing). But perhaps the best thing about The Hamilton Mixtape (which is a difficult statement to make because the whole thing is amazing) is the original tracks.

You guys, these tracks are OUTSTANDING! They are poignant and topical and personal… and I’ll stop here, but let it be known that I could go on. My  personal favorites are “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” featuring K’naan, Snow The Product, Riz MC and Residente, and “Wrote My Way Out” featuring Nas, Dave East, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Aloe Blacc.

Unfortunately, the library doesn’t have a copy of the mixtape yet. But I have put in a request so we’ll just have to wait for it. Until then you can listen to it for free on Spotify. You can also enjoy this special #Ham4Ham from December 1st, celebrating the mixtape and its awesomeness:

I’m Back!!!

by  | Category: Must-Read Fiction, Reading Lounge
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Hey guys! Did you miss me?

I’ve honestly really missed this. I never thought I’d be one for the blogging but turns out I was wrong… I really love it!

Things have been a little crazy for me these past several weeks. Summer is a crazy time at the library in general. It was a lot of fun, but left me without much time for reading, reflecting and sharing. Then right as the excitement of summer was dying down I made a huge move. That’s right folks, no longer are you reading the sage words of an Information Assistant at Bathurst Clark. You are now enjoying the verbal stylings of the newest Youth Services Librarian at Civic Centre!!!

If you were here for the TSRC party, you saw me right in the middle of that transition (Literally. The name tag around my neck said Info Assistant but somewhere in the library, hidden away, was a name tag that said YS Librarian). If you’re not sure you saw me there, I was the one in charge of the Dojo room (how do you like me now?). By the way, guys, that night was so much fun! Were you there? Did you enjoy it as much as I did? As Jane Lynch says, if you had half as much fun as I did then I had twice as much fun as you…

So now that we’re all caught up I can tell you what’s actually been on my mind this past week:  Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys.

indexRGB80F4CHave you read this book???

Full disclosure: I only finished it a couple days ago and have yet to really start the sequel, but I am looking forward to it.

Nevertheless, I’m not yet sure if I love this book or if I will love this series. There are parts that I LOVED. There are things that I figured out a page or two before it was revealed and I was so proud of myself. That can be such an ego boost (you may even hear me utter the words: “Ha, I could have written this book”. No, I’m not delusional, I know I couldn’t). But it took me a long time to get into and even once I did, there were times that I found myself losing interest a bit.

Now, because I’m still on the fence about this book but eagerly awaiting the next one (which seems to be all about Ronan.. which is… I mean… okay..), I thought I’d break down some of the things that I loved about it and some of the things that I could have lived without. No spoilers I promise!!

I think first and foremost I could have lived without there being four books. I feel about this the way I feel about Peter Jackson making three Hobbit films.. I don’t think there’s enough story to merit this many books. Even in the first book there were full sections (and possibly chapters) that I felt were not really necessary. One of the cardinal rules of fiction writing is that if something doesn’t serve to move the plot forward (be it with action or necessary context), it gets cut. Do I need a whole 20 minute section about Radagast? Has it given the story anything other than a weird guy with Giant bunnies (those bunnies, though)? Not really, Pete.. Tolkien knew this, that’s why it’s not in the book… (See? No spoilers here.)

I also didn’t love the slow pace. Why does it take FIVE chapters to complete ONE day??? While this is partly due to all the (in mu opinion) unnecessary bits that were added in order to justify four books (I’m being harsh, I know), it’s also a stylistic thing. This is a character driven story, not a plot driven story. So a day will take five chapters because you have five people whose experiences of the day need to be shared. I get that… I just don’t love it. If you do love this type of narrative, you will love this book. Pick it up. Check it out. Read it!

You know, I think that’s mostly it as far as things I didn’t like so much.

Now, for something completely different: that things I loved!

THE PSYCHICS!!!! I love this stuff. True story: When I was 12 I was so into it that my mother either bought me tarot cards or gave me her deck (I can’t remember which). I used to look up different spreads and interpretations. I would sit up in my room and do my own readings, trying to determine the meaning and implications. I would even at times let the cards make my decisions for me. Maura, Persephone and Calla are exactly the kind of psychic I always wanted to be. They are amazing and intuitive and powerful. Ohh I love them so much!! Especially Persephone and Calla…

Gansey (and to a certain extent his crew). Gansey, at this point at least, is maybe the most interesting character in this book. There are so many layers to him. Some are self-imposed and others are placed on him by society or his family or friends. His dedication to his quest is admirable, whatever his reasons are. He has an innocence to him and a goodness that draw you in. I can totally see why Noah, Ronan and Adam have attached themselves so entirely to him. There is so much more that I can say about him… but I think the more I say the more I risk spoilers. I will stop my love letter to Gansey by stating that Gansey and his journal are my OTP!

Cabeswater.  All I’m going to say is that it’s spooky and fantastic.

Without giving too much away I think that’s all I can really say… Okay.. on to book 2! Excelsior!