NaNoWriMo 2016- LET’S DO THIS

In six-ish hours it’ll officially be NaNoWriMo prep time. For me anyway. Some have been preparing since September 1st, some before that, some may not gear up for a few more weeks. But! No matter when, or how, NaNoWriMo is coming for us all.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for those that don’t know) takes place November 1st-30th. It’s a challenge for writers to complete a novel draft of 50,000 words during those thirty days. Basically, write a book in a month. Boom. Easy, right?

Um…. no.

It is not.

This is my first year participating. While very excited, I’m doing my best to OVER prepare so as to avoid getting overwhelmed. As a result, I’ve gathered some awesome resources. And, lucky you! I’m going to spill it all here, so you can play too!

NaNoWriMo advice, resources, and general help for National Novel Writing Month

Okay!

Let’s start with NaNoWriMo in general.

First, I found this great, probably pretty accurate, representation of what to expect. Our friends at BuzzFeed wrote this up a few years ago. While not SUPER helpful for participants, those who know someone involved may learn a thing or two. I’m planning on sending this to my husband come November 1st. It has some hilarious info and gifs on the stages we writers will experience during NaNoWriMo. Like this gem. Stage one:

 

NaNoWriMo Madness from BuzzFeed

(It is from like… 2012 I think? But still relevant)

 

Next up, some great posts on preparation:

Checklist: 30 Things to do for NaNo Prep

A great list of stuff to do. Everything from plotting to social calendar clearing. Even a handy graphic I may print out and carry around with me. She’s has great visuals with every step. Many of which cracked me right up:

 

Game of Thrones NaNoWriMo funny meme

 7 Strategies for NaNoWriMo Prep

A lovely compact list to help with plotting. I especially like the idea of drawing a map. Fantasy or not, a map of your character’s surrounding and geography can be immensely helpful. Also, thoughtfully choosing a point of view helps a ton. Pick one and stick with it.

The National Novel Writing Month official website

Alrighty. Head over here. Register. Get yourself set up for success. I did. My profile is still a bit bare for the moment, but find me. Add me. Let’s be friends and cheer each other on. I love to hear from readers and writers. And, I love talking and joking and sharing ideas. All that jazz. Sign up!

Now for the juicy stuff.

Once November is here, these will help you stay organized and keep you going.

Day-by-Day NaNoWriMo Outline: Your 30-Day Cheatsheet

An awesome day-by-day process of where your story should go. Great for the planners (like me) to read through before you outline. Can also be good for the Pantsters*. You crazies can peek at it to keep your plot moving along. Super great list for story construction. Also contains a neat graphic. Woo!

*A “Pantster”, I learned, is a writer who “flies by the seat of their pants” when book writing. For example, they don’t outline and such. Pretty sure I would actually die a death if I tried it. They’re cool and badass and I want to hear their war stories…

NaNoWriMo: The Art of 1667 Words Per Day

Great tips on how to keep your micro-goal of 1667 words per day. That’s all we have to do. One thousand six hundred sixty-seven words. A day. For thirty days. We can do that, right? It’s going to be fine.

If you’re like me, and have momentary panics about achieving even a hundred words a day, this post will really help. Awesome advice, about distractions, momentum, etc… I also loved her idea of changing your font color to a super light gray. To keep from editing as you write. I’m a major culprit (victim?) of that. I’m horrible. Fixing every little problem that shows up when my atrocious first draft crap spews out. I tweak here and there. Bad! No! I’m the worst person to tell you not to do that, because I can’t stop doing it myself. But, DON’T. I’ve actually made a sub-goal for NaNoWriMo. JUST LET THE CRAP FLOW. Don’t edit. This blog made some great suggestions for overcoming that. Awesome.

This Generous Person’s Spreadsheets

If you’re like me, I love to see progress. While I’m usually one for instant gratification, sometimes it’s nice to see steady progress toward my goal day-by-day. Especially if I have thirty days where I have to stay focused and finish. These spreadsheets (all totally and completely free) can really help us keep track of word counts. Which, as we all know, are important to be watching.

The spreadsheet with this link is technically for 2015. But! The post states there will be an updated one for this year posted soon. Hooray!

Also, you can donate to the cause for more spreadsheet goodness. If you’re feeling extra nice, it’s a cool thing you can do.

Write a Novel in a Month (without Losing Your Mind)

This one isn’t NaNoWriMo specific. But, it’s a great resource for reminding you why we write first drafts. It’s got some good stuff on plotting and discovering your story. While the post is sort of an ad for a book about writing a novel in thirty-one days, it still has some great points about first drafting.

I hit up this blog a lot for advice and motivation. So, browse through some other articles. This is where I first read about publishing shorter stories on Amazon. And even though my novellas are longer than what is suggested, I found that I loved writing shorter fiction. It taught me a lot and I’ll keep doing it. My point? You never know where you’re going to find inspiration, or have an “ah ha!” moment. So poke around. Read a little about what you don’t think will interest you. You’ll be surprised. This applies to ANY blog, of course.

To conclude…

NaNoWriMo is going to be awesome. I’m really looking forward to it. Even though it’s my first ride on this merry-go-round, these are the things I’m going to keep in mind that you’ll also want to consider:

  • Don’t forget to prep your friends and family. Let them know you’re not going to be as reachable as normal.
  • Guard your writing time. This is one month out of the year when you are going to choose you. You owe it to yourself to write. You love it. You deserve it. For thirty days, say no to the other stuff. Protect the time you’ve set aside for yourself to do what you love.
  • Write through writer’s block. That syndrome doesn’t get to exist in November. My best advice when you think you’ve got it? Pretend you don’t. Write anyway. The point of this exercise is to write. Not to write well. Remember that. Just put words on the page.
  • Don’t edit as you go. Just say no, kids.
  • Try to get enough sleep.
  • Plan. Plan. Plan. Have an outline. Set micro-goals. Word counts, page counts, scene completions, whatever. Strategize so you can be successful. And so you don’t get overwhelmed. (As a side note, this point may be lost on the Pantsters. I don’t know how you do it, and I have MAD respect for you dudes that can fly like that. PLEASE tell me how you do it. I think I’d just end up weeping under my desk.)

The point of #NaNoWriMo is to write. Not to write well. Remember that. 

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There you have it! For now, at least. As I find more throughout this crazy writing spree, I’ll update this post. Again, find me on the NaNoWriMo official website so we can hold hands and cry together. I mean… win together.

LET’S DO THIS!

Banned Books Week 2016

Banned Books Week is now! I will be reading Lord of the Flies by William Golding for my official banned book. I’ll also be taking part in a banned books photo challenge over on my Tumblr which I will also post on my Instagram

September 25th-October 1st is Banned Books Week. I’d like to share a chunk of a paper I wrote on the subject of censorship some years ago. This is an issue close to my heart.

(I’d also like to preamble this with: I long for the day I write something important enough to be banned. I’ll know I’ve made it when my work is challenged. That’s an okay goal to have, right?)

Any who, here are my thoughts:

Say No to censorship and banned books for banned books week

The Banning of books is a controversial issue that’s been debated and protested for decades, if not longer. Books are banned for many reasons. Some of the criteria almost makes sense (sexual acts, violence). Other reasons are laughable (children questioning authority, too depressing, abundance of cartoons). Authors of these works are trying to tell a truth, or express an idea. Writers are not writing books with the intention of being banned. They’re trying to help people, and some of these people are children. Your children. The banning of these “controversial” novels isn’t helping anyone. Children are being cut off from reading about, what some may call, uncomfortable situations; this is only going to make it more difficult for them to deal with these situations in real life. It is often helpful for children to read about these issues, in an environment where they can ask questions (to parents or teachers). If not allowed to learn about things like sex or mental illness in a safe environment, children may be left learning about these subjects from friends or popular media. Can you imagine? It also seems that groups banning books forget kids aren’t without common sense. Children quite often know what’s “real” and “not real”. Give your kid some credit! And give them the opportunity to learn, grow, and explore their world and new ideas. They can find help in these books. Let them.

This form of censorship isn’t an archaic practice. Schools and communities are still trying to infringe upon the liberties of free speech. They’re playing with the rights of children. It’s almost sickening. They seem to be having trouble coming up with valid reasons, too. Some book banning criteria includes:

  • children questioning authority (you will think what we think, no matter how wrong we are)
  • characters who speak in non-standard English (heaven forbid you have an accent.)
  • Non-Christian culture (no Jewish literature for you)
  • witchcraft of supernatural (magic isn’t real, but our kids might think it is!)
  • abundance of cartoons (never a good idea to help children better understand a concept with pictures)
  • homosexual subject matter (you have two dads, so you’re not allowed to be a role model)
  • negative statements about the United States government (remember slavery?)
  • non-traditional family units (because every family is a nuclear family)
  • promotion of self understanding (don’t you dare think for yourself!)

That’s a minuscule glimpse of the list of “reasons” books are censored.

To be fair… there are some reasons to consider keeping some books out of elementary schools, or make them only available to older readers. I’ll agree that some content need not be read by second graders. I’m not a complete radical. But, I stand by my argument that ideas should never, I repeat never, be kept from people. How are we to grow as a society and culture if we shelter our future thinkers from an idea that could plant a seed of pure brilliance? We’re cheating ourselves and our children if we allow thoughts to be put through an approval system. Just because you don’t agree with an idea, doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. This is supposed to be the free world! This is not a land of certain people’s opinion. This is a country of anyone’s opinion who is willing to speak. Stop shushing the people brave enough to change the world.

Books are not bad guys. Taking them away won’t help your children deal with the scary world in which we live. Our kids need books, even the questionable ones. The reasons for banning books are not reasons at all. They’re agendas. Please, I beg of society, let books help them. There’s no need for empty libraries. Challenging these books is hurting our little ones, and us. It’s not fair to take away the tools to help them grow and learn. You’re leaving them defenseless.

Throwback Thursday 2.25.16

This was part of a 30 day letter writing challenge I did on a blog I used to have. On July 18th 2010 I was to write to a stranger. This is what I said:

Hello, Stranger:

I’m not really sure what to say to you. Being as I don’t know you, I have no idea as to your interests. I could tell you about myself. Although, I’m not sure what good that’ll do you. I’m not sure what good that will do me either. 

What do you believe in? For you, what’s worth fighting for? I’m always intrigued by other’s ideas and notions. What’s most important to a person teaches me far more than “what do you do for a living?” Quite often our occupation is what’s there, not who we are. 

I work in retail. It’s not what I “do”. It’s what I tolerate so I can have food and a car. See? You didn’t learn much about me there, did you? Oh well. It’s not as though you’re going to write back. 

Do you believe in Destiny, Stranger? I do. I’m not really sure how it’s helping me, but I believe in it. I wish on stars, too. Although, lately, I’ve only stared at them. No wishing. I’m trying to give up wishing. It’s no good. Every dandelion, first star, 11:11, necklace chain and penny in a fountain wish has proved false. I never expected the wish to magically materialize before my eyes. I only thought that maybe putting that hopeful energy into the world would make things a little lighter. 

But, alas, it did nothing.

Interesting how one can say things to a stranger and feel alright with it. I don’t know if you’re even listening. Doesn’t really matter, though, does it?

Goodbye, Stranger. Lovely chat.

Throwback Thursday 1.14.16

Oops, almost dated it 2015. Still in transition, I guess.

Okay! Here it is! A recap of my day in August of 2010. After reading this little ditty, I’m amazed at how my writing has changed. It’s a lot more interesting for one thing. But, I chuckled at it here and there. Hopefully, you do too. Enjoy!

August 25th 2010

I woke up this morning FREEZING. I swear I could see my breath. (I really couldn’t, but I almost felt like it) After shivering for a few moments, I checked my phone, both to note the time and make sure I had no messages. Why I would have a message is beyond me, it was 8:43. The only person to think of messaging me that early would be Jessie, because she’s two hours ahead of me. But, she knows better than to communicate before 10:00 my time, anyway. Smart kid. 
 
As I was saying, it was 8:43 and I was cold. “Freezing” is the word I think I used. Yes, freezing was the word. That’s what I was. After dropping the phone back on my “nightstand” (I use the term loosely, for it really isn’t a nightstand at all; more of a tower of plastic drawers I got at Wal-mart, but it’s the surface closet to the bed and therefore used as if it were, indeed, a nightstand) I tried to go back to sleep. Those efforts were fruitless, though. What’s the first thing you have to do when you wake up…? That’s right. I had to pee. 
 
But, it was so cold! To go to the loo would mean getting out from under the snugly blankets, and away from the two warm cat bodies keeping me alive. With a little (or loud and pathetic) whimper, I crawled out of the bed and dashed to the little girl’s room; which, I feel the need to add, is clear down the hall and entirely too far away from my bedroom. 
 
After that business was taken care of I went back to my room and stared at my pile of dirty laundry. It took me quite some time to find what I was looking for. Mind you, I did not have my glasses on, nor had I any coffee, so this could have gone on for several hours. Any who, I finally found my fleece pants, and plucked a pair of socks out of the drawer. The pants went on over my Star Wars (that’s right, STAR WARS) shorts, and the socks were pulled onto my little feeties. And, what do you know? My purple hooded jacket is right there next to my laundry pile (Alright, it was IN the laundry pile) Think I’m going to resist that on this frigid morning? On goes the jacket. Zip goes the zipper. The hood is flung over my head, and I crawl back under the blankets. I go back to sleep for another hour. 
 
Ah, the life of the unemployed.
 
After waking up (again) I go on with my day. Two cups of coffee, check the Facebook, the Tumblr, the e-mail, and watch my programs. In case you’re curious those would be: Young and the Restless, and Passport to Europe with Samantha Brown. Today’s featured destination was Salzburg, Austria. Dudes! That place looks extraordinary. A four hour tour of the Sound of Music filming locations?! Sign me the up! Not to mention many historical Mozart attractions to be seen. Seriously, so cool. 
 
Now that my morning “routine” was completed I decided to get done what needed to be done. Just before I make my way to the bathroom to wash my face, however, I smell it. That specific smell I smelled the day before, but ignored. Today, it was stronger. *sniff sniff* Yep. That’s something dead. Where is it…? I check under the couch, in case the cat did something gross with a mouse. Nothing. But… this is where it smells the most. What’s behind the couch? The window. What’s in the window well? A nice dead duck. Lovely. 
 
Can I just say how sad I am for this duck? Not only are they one of the only birds I’m not afraid of, but they’re just cute and have some cool characteristics. Also, the way my window well sits under the upstairs windows, the duck had to have gotten stuck down there, and then died. So sad. I could have saved her had I known she was in trouble. I’m sorry little girl duck. I’m really sad that that happened to you. 
 
So, my uncle takes care of the duck, and (after lighting a scented candle for awhile) my basement smells much better. I now proceed with my day’s events. 
 
I clean myself up, put on the makeups, and style the hair. After selecting an outfit of a black skirt, blue polo, and flip flops I head out the door. Where do I go? Only to the amazing Walgreen’s! One prescription refill for Kim please. Fifteen minutes later, drugs in hand, I decide: “I’m this close to the coffee house, I may as well pop over there for a tea and a quiet read”. So, that’s exactly what I do. My white orchid tea was delectable, and my current read is particularly enchanting, so it was nice. A nice looking guy came in, about half an hour after I got there. I made eye contact, then went back to reading; thinking he’ll think I’m cute and come over to flirt.
 
He didn’t.
 
After a little while I pack it up and go home. My tea was about gone, and I wanted to tidy up my living room now that the unpleasant odor had left (aw, I’m still sad about it). That ended up only taking a few moments, I’m a rather clean person, I guess. So what do I do? Throw my bed comforter in the washer and play chess. 
 
After the computer kicked my ass a couple hundred times, I elect to call it quits and help out with dinner. Uncle Scotty showed me his way of making biscuits and gravy, which I found fascinating. It was damn good, too. I’m glad my appetite is returning. I missed it, wholeheartedly. 
 
And that brings me to where I decide to blog whilst I digest. Here I am. Blogging. Digesting. What an eventful life I lead.

Throwback Thursday (A Blog Experiment)

Yes, yes. I do realize it’s Wednesday. But, I have an idea.

I think my husband rolls his eyes and holds his breath when a crazy like me says “I have an idea.” But, bear with me…

Throwback Thursday can be really fun. I used to participate on this blog until I realized that no one here knew me and/or cares about what silly-ness I had found myself a part of years/months/days ago.

Today it hit me. This is a blog about my writing. Things I’ve just released and things coming soon. What if I included things I’ve written in the past. Bam! Lightening. Idea. Throwback Thursday could be a segment in which I post an article/story/rant from long ago.

It might be fun to read what I used to be. The writer I once was. How I’ve improved. Things that have driven me to where I am now. Great idea, yeah?

Yes. Yes it is. Because sometimes I say important things. I’ve got some posts lined up about religion, dating, writing, and life in general that are honest and real.

H.G. Wells Quote (Past)

See? The past is important in learning where we wish to go. I wish to get better, so I’ll post my bad writing and mercilessly tear it apart. Or remember a tough time and build strength from what I’ve been through.

So! I pose the question, faithful readers, would this be a thing you might care about? Would a short post from the past be worth a read?

Ooooh, I’m all tingly. This could be fun.