Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Though a bit tired at present from unwelcome insomnia last night, I have had fun today. We opened presents, watched other people open ours and generally enjoyed ourselves. Then, we set up the new slackline (!) and laughed ourselves silly at everybody else's acrobatics. Dad, in particular, seemed to be attempting to walk it at a 45 degree angle. Now why would he do something that silly? But he did improve on the 2nd go around.

I was going to post pictures of us on the slackline so you could laugh as well, but I ran out of time to get the picture edited and uploaded, so instead here is a wonderful cello rendition of the Carol of the Bells. Another excellent video by The Piano Guys!

Until next time!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

3 Days till Christmas!

I finished it! I finished it! Pardon me while I dance happily around the room. What, you ask, did I finish? My dear Mother's Christmas present. I debated posting a picture of it for today's post, but I decided against it. I can't take the chance that she might see it. However, I promise I'll post a picture of what has so consumed my time recently upon Christmas Day. I highly doubt I'll get around to writing on novella #2 before Christmas. I will have to direct my energy toward cleaning and baking and catching up on my blog posts.

If you've been paying attention to my twitter you'll notice I've been tweeting about collecting interviews for a feature. All I'll say now is that it'll start on January 2nd. I'll announce further details on or around January 1st.

As for the picture, a cute attack kitty! I just love cats. They're so crazy independent and cute!

Until next time!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

4 Days till Christmas!

It's starting to get close now! I can't believe that only four days separate me from Christmas. So, in light of that I was desperately sewing my fingers off today on the present I'm making. However, I still didn't get it done! But, I don't have more than one day's work left. Yay! Since I'm short on time today, I'll leave you with a hilarious video. It has nothing to do with Christmas and everything to do with dancing.

Until next time!

Friday, December 16, 2011

9 Days till Christmas

Yet more lovely distractedness today. For this video the question is, is it real or fake? I found it even more interesting and distracting to read through all the comments debating that point. The first video is the actual prank and the second video has segments on how they did the prank and the results.

On another thought relating to Christmas and writing, do you know of the idiom circulating about how giving is better than receiving? Well, I've come to believe in recent years that it is very true. Lately, I've found it more fun to give people presents and see their reactions rather than receiving presents. So, giving being more fun than receiving could almost be given the placement as the second stage to the process. But then I began thinking. Isn't writing similar? We all start out by receiving (reading), but somewhere along the way, those of us that are writers start enjoying the process of giving (writing) more than receiving (reading). Just a thought.

Short version:

Long version:

Until next time!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

10 Days till Christmas

Back yet again slightly later than I had hoped. This christmas present I'm making is throwing me off my stride both on here and for writing. Though, I anticipated it delaying the latter. So I leave you with a very amusing video. I hope you like sheep + led lights + people with too much time on their hands.

Until next time!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

11 Days till Christmas

The first of the Christmas presents put in an appearance today. The lucky recipient? The family dog, Sandy. Mom bought her a new doggy bed that has more padding. Sandy needs all the padding she can get in her old age of 10. It was funny to see her investigating her new bed. She wouldn't lie down until we made her and even then she had this guilty look on her face like "Am I really supposed to be on this?".
I put one of her blankets on the bed and she seemed to take to it more after that, but I still think it'll be a few days before she adjusts completely.

Present status? I put in almost 3 hours today. Results? Finished one color and started another. I should be able to get that color done tomorrow. This is where copious hours of audiobooks come in handy. Now, I must be off. There's a Christmas brunch tomorrow for which I have to rise at 6 am. Have I mentioned before how much I hate waking up early?

Until next time!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

12 Days till Christmas/Birth of a Novel #6

Earlier, I thought about what number the title of this post would contain. Then I panicked. I've got a present to finish. In 12 days. AHH! I mean, I'm pretty sure I can finish it by then, but I'd have to put in 3-4 hours a day to get it done most likely. I meant to start back working on it December 1st, but see how that turned out.
I won't say what the present is, but the picture should be enough to ascertain that it's some form of cross stitching. Having to work on this will seal my doom when it comes to writing. All those hours that I could spend writing will have to poured into this project since it has to get done by Christmas morn.

On other news, I finally gave in and joined twitter. Pardon me while a shudder races up my back. I never thought I'd join Twitter. Just what I need. One more social network to keep an eye on. However I joined in the name of networking. So, don't expect me to tweet every five minutes like some people do. You'll be lucky to see one tweet a day from me. More likely, outside of tweets signalling blog posts, I won't do much with it. I created the account more for announcements rather than for bleeding out my daily life. That is what my diary/journal is for, not twitter or this blog or facebook. You can follow me on twitter either by clicking here or clicking the links in the twitter widget in the sidebar.

Until next time!

Monday, December 12, 2011

13 Days till Christmas

Eugh. This is how I feel right now:
I mean, the sick part. Not that I'm cutting myself short on cuteness, but you get the idea. If this lasts till Thursday, I might even hit the 3 week mark for being sick. Yay me. So, not much time, or motivation, to write or take photographs. So, instead, enjoy this picture by BMartin.
I promise I'll get around to writing sometime this week. However, rearranging and cleaning my room took priority today. (And, let me tell you, my room is looking good right now!) Plus I have to fit resume writing in there somewhere. Oh the joys of having too much to do and too little time.

Until next time!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

14 Days till Christmas/How to Wrap a Cat

So, I'm breaking my tradition today of putting a picture for each day of the countdown. I really just didn't know what to photograph today and was panicking slightly until I saw this video shared on facebook. Please take this in place of the usual picture and enjoy!

It makes me wish I had still had a cat. Oh the sorrow of being a cat person when living in a house with an allergic to cats person. I haven't had a cat since I took on a stray twelve years ago. Her kittens were soooo cute!

On the writing front, I stumbled across an interesting blog post today. I found the link in my daily digest for the yahoo writing group I'm in. It details how the writer boosted her daily word count to 10k. Click here for the blog post.

I'm not sure I could pull off the first tip mentioned, but the other two sound like things I could work on. So, I cobbled together an excel sheet to keep track of my time writing so I can gather some statistics on how I write. That should help improve my productivity. Now, to find a way to counter procrastination....

Until next time!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

15 Days till Christmas and a Discussion on Copying

Only fifteen days to go. It's hard to believe that's the measure of the time remaining. But whether I wish it or not, the time ticks by. What I really wish is that this lingering sickness would go away. I must have gone through 10 cough drops in row this morning and afternoon to keep from coughing all over our yard sale customers.
Isn't my sister cute? She was our cheerleader/living signpost.
Yes, today was the big day and my room is emptier than yesterday. So, after I clean up a bit (the amount of dust that collects under a desk is astounding!) I can rearrange things into a nice little cozy reading corner. But first, cleaning is a must. The baseboards and carpet look disgusting covered in grey webs of dust and dirt.

As for writing, I still have several more hours left of the day to accomplish something on that front but to be on the safe side I'm downgrading myself from 500 words a day to 250. Perhaps once the holidays are over and the relatives gone, I can go back to 500 or more words a day. After all, I've set a new project for myself. Perhaps I should say, an old new project. It's been floating around on my head and paper for 10 years now and it's about time I finally wrote the whole thing down. I've never managed to get beyond 4 chapters before. But a bit of background first.

I spent the whole yard sale and the rest of the afternoon reading the fourth and final novel in Christoper Paolini's Inheritance Cycle. That behemoth of a book took me all that time to read it because it sits at well over 800 pages (!). I have to admit that his writing has improved over the duration of the series so I look forward to his next book or series, when, hopefully, he'll start from scratch. Yes, I'm a firm believer that Paolini copied far too much from other books and movies. However, that's what happens when you're a young writer embarking on your first novel. I did it, but more on that later. In Paolini's next series, I hope he begins on a new world where he will draw more on his imagination than the books he's currently reading. Each new book in the Inheritance Cycle gave me more and more hope that he was finding out what it truly means to craft your own unique world from not so unique building blocks. Every writer starts out with the same materials. It's how a writer uses them that sets apart the good from the bad, the original from the copies.

In the first half of my senior thesis, I discussed this phenomenon of copying. You might recognize it better under a different name. That is, imitation. When you realize that copying is actually imitation, you can see the logic behind it. Imitating the masters has always been one of the first ways for artists and writers to learn how to write. And so this is where all beginning writers start. Most of these novels never see the light of day after they are written. Paolini just had the misfortune that his novel did see the light of day and was published with all the imitations intact, thereby leaving him open to criticism. Of course, once you start down the road of imitation I would argue that it is impossible to completely erase all traces of imitation even with countless edits and revisions.

But you must move past imitation to become a creator of original works. That first imitative novel or work is an essential step, but it's not the destination.

That leads me back around to my imitation novel. I started it 10 years ago when I was asked by my mother to choose an English course for our homeschool that year. I chose "Learn to Write the Novel Way". I embarked full of enthusiasm on a fantasy novel which I called SwordQuest at the time. I know, such an original name, is it not? At the end of the year I had 4 chapters of a fantasy novel and I had figured out two very important things. 1) I. Hate. Planning. (I still do to this day. Minimal planning/pantsing it is the way to go!) 2) My MC was a carbon copy of the heroine from Robin McKinley's "Hero and the Crown". Why? Because that was the latest novel that had captured my interest and obsession. Once I realized this, I scrapped the novel, revised it and began again until I finally put it aside. Of course that may have also had something to do with the fact that I'd attempted an outline and had not only failed, but I had written myself into a corner.

Three years later, when I again turned my creative efforts to novels, I started writing my first sci-fi novel "Adventure at Anwar" which is still unfinished to this day. However, in those three years my original fantasy novel had been stewing in the back of my mind. My MC went from a princess, to a soldier, to the sister of a soldier, to the daughter of a village head. The series expanded to three books instead of one and I discarded the original idea of having the MC questing for magical items. In other words, I revised it significantly. One by one, I attempted to strip away all the imitations I could see. Around that time, I had a brainwave about how to start writing the novel again. A story about unicorns in "Deep Magic" ezine gave me the idea and so I started back in on it. I wrote most of the prologue and started into chapter 1, figured out a good deal of the main plot points and characters, and even settled on a love interest. But the idea didn't go anywhere. I shelved it in the back of my mind.

This year, I cleaned off the dust. The series has once again morphed. Now it will take the form of a duology thus solving the problems of having no climax for book 1 and a boring journey for half of book 2. I combined them into one book, though the third (now second) book has remained the same so far. It is this series then, that I wish to return to. Even though it has several imitations left in it of Robin McKinley's work, it is hard to find them. One cannot be eliminated because it is essential to the plot. So, once I finish novella #2 for the "Across Time" series, I shall be taking a break to stroll down memory lane and complete this old imitation novel that's been 10 years in the making. Who know? Maybe it will turn out good enough to publish. But I have to finish writing it first. It's been 4 long years since my last foray into the fantasy genre and I think it's about time I went back.

Until next time!

P.S. This blog post is over a thousand words. Haven't written a post that long in a while. O_O

Friday, December 9, 2011

16 Days till Christmas

Charge it! Or just put them under your dinner plates. Mom went shopping and found $1 chargers at Michael's. She seemed quite delighted when she returned, eight chargers in hand.
Today was spent on yard sale stuff. I spent the morning and afternoon painting six signs to post around the neighborhood. Bending over the dining room table painting is the perfect way to acquire a sore lower back. But the signs looked good when I was done. Mom remarked on my use of red and green in addition to the black. She said it looked Christmasy. Honestly, I didn't intend it to be so. I found green, red, and yellow paint and thought the former two would show up better. And while I was painting our street name in red I realized it matched with the 'Red' in the street name. How weird is that? I guess it means I do have some subconscious artistic sense....

Again, no writing today other than this blog, but the ideas have been floating around in my head. I'm considering whether to write or read one of the five library books waiting for me while running the yard sale tomorrow morning. Of course, this is all contingent on my actually being awake and alert. We'll see how well six hours of sleep suits me.

Until next time!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

17 Days till Christmas

Babysitting and choir practice dominated my time today. No time for writing or photography as spent my free time this afternoon practicing Brahm's German Requiem op. 45 for choir. However, I decided to snap a picture of a item which has been carefully saved for the past few years. Ages ago I earmarked it for a white elephant gift. Finally, it will see the light of day on the 17th at the church class's Christmas party. Can you guess what it is?
It's a toilet lid cover! This picture is of the picture on the underside of the lid. In other words, the part facing your, um, backside when making use of the toilet. I'll leave it up to you. Is Santa peeking or not?

I hope to get a good laugh out of it at the party if it isn't too old fashioned for my peers to understand.

Until next time!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

18 Days till Christmas

Today was spent peacefully in the house. No excursions or unexpected surprises. Which means I had to hunt around the house for a good picture. Since I already heavily photographed the house for the last Christmas picture countdown, I had to be creative in said hunt. And this is my result.
Mom reads the advent storybook each night we can gather the family (we're reading Tabitha's Travels this year though we have all three books in the series). It's quite amusing to hear the different voices she uses for each character. The joke this year is the Jewish character which Dad pointed out sounded more Mexican than Middle Eastern. She wasn't too pleased with the accusation. I wonder why. At the end of the story, there's a section explaining how the story relates to a Biblical message. At this point, my little sister became bored tonight.
As you can see, she started playing with a pillow. Mom then reminded her that the last bit is the most important part of the evening. I don't think my sister quite heard Mom.

Until next time!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

19 Days till Christmas/Birth of a Novel #5

I am of the firm opinion that loan companies wish to squeeze as much money as possible out of you through confusion and unclear information. Gah. Though, I will admit that CFNC is quite straightforward. I'm more frustrated with the dear old US Department of Education. First off, they got my graduation date wrong so we had to correct them and now it's still wrong just a different date. So I'm not 100% sure when my first payment is due. And, one of those two loans may be serviced through another site/company even though it's listed on a different servicer's website. I wasted my entire afternoon digging through old paperwork and online sites for answers. Is there a wall nearby I can bang my head on? It's already hurting.

The picture for today tries to capture the mood in this house. On the one hand we're eagerly looking forward to and planning for Christmas (hence the nativity) but on the other we're scrambling to prepare for the yard sale this Saturday (which is going to take place in around 40 degree weather *shivers*). In the background you can see Mom hunting around in the cabinets for cups and other items we don't use and could sell.
So, technically this is post five for the birth of a novel blog chain. However, I don't have that much to report for writing. I've spent it recovering from NaNo and seeing to everything I neglected during November. However, I did write something! And it should only be another few thousand words till novella #2 is over. Now, the big question is should I go ahead and start novella #3 since I have it planned out or should I save it until July when Camp NaNo rolls around and work on editing novellas 1 & 2 as well as other stories. I'm really leaning towards the latter option at the moment.

Until next time!

Monday, December 5, 2011

20 Days till Christmas

My adventures today consisted of unexpectedly having to cook supper and sorting shoe boxes at the local Operation Christmas Child center. The former resulted in a frankfurter casserole and the latter resulted with tired muscles and meeting a friend. Though it was only in passing, I managed to exchange words twice with an online friend I met through NarniaWeb last month. It was nice to see her, though I regretted not having more of an opportunity to talk. Our shifts just didn't sync like we originally thought they would.

On the line, I snagged the role of taper as soon as the team leader called for a volunteer. I've done it before and consider it more fun than sorting through the boxes and trying to cram everything back in.
So, I stood next to both the sorters and the carton/box packers. It was intriguing to watch, and sometimes help, them stuff 15 or more shoe boxes into one carton. I believe the record for the person next to me was 17 in one carton.
There was an unusual side effect to taping. First, I must attempt to describe the awful smell of this tape. It was stringent and icky, however, my stomach started grumbling. Don't ask me why or how, but I was hungry and merely became hungrier as the 4 hours of our shift progressed. That and thirsty. But my thirst could be explained by a deficit of water intake today. I downed a 10 oz bottle of water in the 10 minutes it took for us to drive home.

Of course, with all that on my plate, I didn't have time for adding more to my story. I will try again tomorrow. If I can fit it in between scouring my room for yard sale items.

Until next time!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

21 Days till Christmas

And today we decorated. The tree is now completely covered in ornaments and we still had some left over. Ornaments seem to be a popular gift among our relatives and so we've collected too many to hang over the years.
On the topic of writing, I did actually write on my novella #2 today. Yay for me! The MC is now cornered and trying to find a way to escape from the friend turned foe. I wonder how she'll escape because she'll have to in order to fly her way into the sequel.

Until next time!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

22 Days till Christmas

I rose at the insane hour of 6:15 this morning to accompany my dear little sister to her ballet recital. She performed very well, dancing without looking at the instructor, and her class was by far the best in her recital group. On the way out we stopped to admire the singing bears which appear every Christmas at this hall. I have fond memories of competing with them during high school choir caroling.
My little sister hasn't seen them in years and she was fascinated.
Once we arrived home, nap time became my first priority, but mother had other ideas. Around mid afternoon we dragged out the artificial tree and started testing the lights. Only half of the small lights worked, so we supplemented it with five extra light strings, one of which gave me a sharp electrical shock when my thumb found a broken light. I'd smashed the light years ago in a door jamb while at college. It, apparently, had been holding a grudge. Father most graciously helped mother and I as we lit the dark patches of the tree.
And we left it at that. The ornaments will be hung up tomorrow or whenever mother decides she's tired of boxes cluttering half the couch. So there was no need for the tree skirt just yet. Our dog, Sandy, decided to claim it. At first she merely lay on it, but then she pawed it into folds and circled to find just the right spot. Doesn't she look guilty?
Needless to say, not much writing got done today except for this post, however I will get back on track tomorrow. I always write something on Sundays.

Our soundtrack for the tree raising was Irish Christmas by Craig Duncan and the Smoky Mountain Band. I cranked up the volume on my laptop and it blasted the music for the whole house to hear. It carries memories of my grandparents' house as that was where I first heard it. Click here to sample this wonderful CD!

Until next time!

Friday, December 2, 2011

23 Days till Christmas

A Christmas goody for today!
Mother baked delicious Apple bread this afternoon. First she ground up the apples and mixed them with sugar
Then in went the flour and spices and she stirred them together into a batter.
Finally, she poured the batter into the pans to bake.
Don't they look delicious?
However, they are earmarked as Christmas presents for our neighbors and we won't get any. Alas. If you're interested in the recipe, click here.

(Ahem, mother prompted edit: She found the previous statement too pitiful, so she is currently cutting one of the loaves for us. And I got the biggest piece. How's that for the power of a blog post! :D And let me tell you, the bread is delicious! )

Until next time!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

24 Days till Christmas

And it begins! Most helpfully Mom decided to bring out the first decorations last night. Though, when she suggested it, I picked up my laptop and backed slowly out of the room. So my Mom and sister began decorating while I frantically raced to finish NaNo.

Today, I ventured out into the house camera in hand, but I didn't have to go far before I saw these hand made bird ornaments sitting on the piano. They await the Christmas tree and until then are enjoying the music. I captured this shot as Mom played an accompaniment to one of my sister's practice songs. A beginner four hand duet.

Mother crafted these bird ornaments from felt. The wings are decorated with thread and bead embroidery. She barely finished the ornaments on time to give some to the relatives for Christmas gifts. (If you're interested in making them as well, Gooseberry Patch Christmas 2010 magazine has the pattern and the instructions. Click here for the magazine!)

Until next time!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Day 30 - The End or is it?

I WON! And I managed it before midnight. I'm both shocked and impressed at myself. Considering that the first and only other time I won I actually crossed the finish line around 5 am after a 5 hour/10.5k sprint...oops did I just say that aloud? Yes, I'll admit it. I only won my first time because I set the timezone back like 6 hours. So this time was an official win (If you don't count that I started 6k into a story, though I did not count the 6k toward NaNo. I promise I didn't.)

As for my story, I didn't finish the second novella, though I think it will be done before another 5k has passed. The story decided it wanted to start the climax today. Means I have an interesting point to start at tomorrow. Yes, I said tomorrow. While snooping around on Angela's blog I found this little contest/idea for writing a certain number words a day. I chose the 500 word option because I don't know if I could keep up 1k during the holidays. So, click on the icon in the sidebar if you want more information. And, while you're at it, go check out Angela's blog.

On another note, I'll be continuing in the Birth of a Novel blog chain at least until I finish my story. Several of the others are continuing it as well so make sure to check their blogs out. (Look below for links).

One more piece of news before I sign off. This is my 100th post! I could hardly believe it when I looked at my post count. Yay! Hopefully it won't take almost 4 years for me to reach 200. :) So, I change around the blog a bit to modify it more toward a polished look. Look for more content from now on.

Words written today: 3,774
Words total: 50,058!

As you know, tomorrow I start the Picture Countdown to Christmas. Look forward to it!

Until next time!

Blog Chain People:

Angela H.
Anna M.
Brooke Busse
Charity Bradford
Elizabeth Davis
Elizabeth Poole
Fida Islaih
Jen McConnel
Lena Hoppe
Mia Hayson
Miranda Hardy
Nyxie Moon
Tessa C

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Day 29/Birth of a Novel #4

Excellent progress today! I set a new record for this month with my 4k written today. Now, I just have to pull off 3.7k tomorrow and then I'll win! *chants* I can do it, I can do it, I can do it. I really empathized with Lindsey Grant's pep talk today when she talked about feeling like "The Little Engine that Could" because I've been feeling like that all of today.

Words written today: 4,033
Total words: 46,284
Words behind: 2,049

Until next time!

Monday, November 28, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Day 28 I backslid again....Around 1k words written which means I'll have a little less than 4k to write on each of the last two days. It sounds like I might have to sacrifice my usual tv shows tomorrow night. It depends on how much I can cram into the afternoon.

Oh, I nearly forgot. I should mention that I had a brainwave on how novella #2 should end, so I do know where this story is going now. And I planned out the sequel. :D "Jump #3 - Atlantis" has now been greenlit.

Words written today: 1,032
Words total: 42,251
Words behind: 4,415

On a sweeter note, I leave you with the video which caused my distraction earlier this evening and started my destructive, downward spiral of video hopping in which I discovered a new musical group that I might have to add to my favorites (look below for one of their videos if you dare) and which led to my writing so few words today.

Until next time!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Day 27

Another day of meeting and exceeding my 3k quota for the day! Looks like whatever I'm doing differently is working, though I'm still procrastinating. I again wrote 3k in the last 2 1/2 hours before midnight. I'll try to do a little better tomorrow. But at least my average is now down to less than 3k per day.

Words written today: 3,743
Total words: 41,219
Words behind: 3,781

Until next time!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Day 26

Yee-haw for starting to get back on track! I intended to write 5k today, but I only managed just over 3k but that's still enough. I'm to the point where I have to write over 3k a day to make it, but I'm making sure to write more than I need so my last day will be easier. Now I just need to keep this up.

Things have started to turn for the worse for my MC. And I just got to kill off the annoying creep from novella #1! Yeah, the first time I kill of a character I almost cried, but this creep was satisfying to kill. What does that say about me the writer? I'm not quite sure.

Also, I have an exciting announcement to make today. I have decided to redo an old post countdown I did the first year I had this blog. And that is.....(drum roll please)....a pictorial countdown to Christmas! I will post one picture a day that has some connection to Christmas, the festivities, or preparations. I'll try to add some poetry or something to go along with the pictures this time around. Look forward to the first post on December 1st! And while you wait, go look at the first pictorial countdown I did back in 2008. Enjoy!

Words written today: 3,249
Total words: 37,476
Words behind: 5,857

Until next time!

Friday, November 25, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Day 25

My goal for today? Write 3k! Actual writing count? A few hundred. How pathetic is that? It's getting to critical point on how behind I am. I think the graph is hovering around 3k per day to finish on time? Help?

Words written today: 491
Total words: 34,227
Words behind: 7,439

On a lighter note (literally) I leave you with this amazing video I found. I nearly died from bliss. The pianist/composer is top notch and he's arranged an amazing piece.

Until next time!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Day 23, Day 24 and Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! Or turkey day, or any other nickname you have for it. Mine was full of food and tinged with sadness (see my last post about Anne McCaffrey). And it was lacking writing. Yes, I'll admit it, I still haven't stopped slacking for writing and it's getting me further and further behind. I need to do something about that, like actually write.

Words written the past two days: 328
Total words: 33,736
Words behind: 6,264

Until next time...

In Memory of Anne McCaffrey

It was with great sadness that I checked my email this morning to find the news that Anne McCaffrey had passed away from a stroke on Monday. Her books were the beginning of many things for me, not the least of which was the beginning of my experiments in the sci-fi genre. "The Harper Hall of Pern" was my first introduction to her writings. Since I am a musician, the trilogy struck deep chords within me, especially "Dragonsong" and "Dragonsinger". To this day, it is still my favorite. From there I found the rest of her Pern series, coming to love "Dragonsdawn" for its explanation of how Pern began and "Dolphins of Pern" for its open door to the limitless possibilities of Pern's future.

Once I ran out of Pern books to read, I began hunting down her other books. I still haven't read the Acorna series or any of the ones she co-authored, but I found a few special loves in her military sci-fi short stories. (Her futuristic Cinderella at a military ball particularly caught my fancy.) Anne McCaffrey's range in sci-fi from bordering on fantasy to military/technical was amazing to me. She showed me how sci-fi didn't have to be boring science facts, but rather a fantastical story based in speculative fact.

Usually, one finds detailed world building prominent in fantasy but not elsewhere. However, Anne McCaffrey was an amazing world builder. She wasn't content to build one sci-fi world and write all her stories in it. She built a new one for each series, though with similar points so that one could almost connect all her stories into facets of the same universe.

All of us - readers, acquaintances, family - will miss her. The words of her character Menolly sum it up best:

The tears I feel today
I'll wait to shed tomorrow.
Though I'll not sleep this night
Nor find surcease from sorrow.
My eyes must keep their sigh:
I dare not be tear-blinded.
I must be free to talk
Not choked with grief, clear-minded.
My mouth cannot betray
The anguish that I know.
Yes, I'll keep my tears till later:
But my grief will never go.

--Menolly's "Song for Petiron" (Dragonsinger)

Every time I make a beeline for the M section in the library or bookstore, I'll remember her in the brief moment when I see the name "Todd" preceding "McCaffrey" instead of "Anne". Each time I read one of her books, she'll live again for a moment. She'll always be there, never forgotten.

Harper, tell me of the road
That leads beyond this Hold,
That wends its way beyond the hill...
Does it go further on until
It ends in sunset's gold?


Until next time.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Day 22/Birth of a Novel #3

Thanksgiving preparations really suck out all the time I use for writing. There's extra chores to do, extra cooking, extra everything which equals less time to write. And that all leads to my presenting another awful word count for today. Oh well, at least I wrote something. I did accomplish one significant thing, and that was naming that new character I mentioned two days ago. His name is Bladevik. It'll suffice for right now, until either I find a better name or he grows into the name.

On a more interesting note, I thought I'd present the synopses for the NaNo novellas I'm writing. It's past time that I should do so.

Jump 1:

Sarah Flynn is your average, young American just out of college. Setting off to teach English in a Japanese school is her idea of an adventure, but it turns into much more when a time portal whisks her away to Japan's past. Over 100 years in the past, she struggles to adapt to a foreign culture and just when she starts to fit in, soldiers sweep into the village. Now she finds herself labelled as a primitive and imprisoned by the walls surrounding the town. She isn't allowed to leave and her chances of returning to the portal grow slimmer each day. Sarah must fight her way out of the physical and social constraints that bind her to the past in order to return to the future.

Jump 2:

Sarah Flynn has made it home, or so she thinks. When a man from her time in the past turns up, she begins to realize that something is very wrong. What will she do when she finds out that home is only an illusion?

So, the first synopsis is a true one (since I've completely written it and know what happens) and the second one just covers how much I know/have written. (And no, Bladevik isn't the man from the past. That's a different guy who sort of turned creeper/stalker of his own accord.)

Words written today: 109
Total words: 33,448
Words behind: 3,218

Until next time.

Monday, November 21, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Day 21

I never realized before just how busy a person can be. I had too many other things to do today that I didn't even get a single word written. I'll have to put my hopes on catching up tomorrow.

Words written today: 0
Total words: 33,339
Words behind: 1,661

Until next time.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Day 20

Finally, I've caught up! And today I introduced my main secondary character who might be villain or victim. He hasn't told me what he is yet so I'll find out later. Maybe I can think up a name for him along the way cause he doesn't have a name yet.

It's quite exhilarating to looks at my stats chart on the NaNo site and see that I have 16,661 words left. It feels like those words will be easy to write in 10 days. I feel like I can do this!

Words written today: 2,260
Total words: 33,339
Words ahead: 6

Until next time!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Day 19

Today, I discovered that I'm back up to my old and faster writing speed! Yay! Just when I needed a boost. This'll help me keep up my flagging spirits as I sprint along the last two weeks of NaNo. It's all downhill from here now that I've passed 30k. Oh and my movie I get to watch because of passing 30k? Captain America! If I can find it...

Words written today: 2,029
Total words: 31,079
Words behind: 587

Until next time!

NaNoWriMo: Day 18

And I didn't end up catching up today, though I did start Novella #2 today. But I made sure to write more than the daily goal of 1,667. That way I'll catch up bit by bit while I keep the pace. Now off to six short hours of sleep before I have to get up for choir practice/dress rehearsal tomorrow morning.

Words written today: 1,747
Total words: 29,050
Words behind: 950

Until next time!

Friday, November 18, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Day 16 and 17

So, it's been slow writing these past few days. I'm still behind on the daily word count. And, due to computer malfunctions and the upcoming choir concert plus rehearsals, it'll probably be a while before I can catch up. If I can't catch up on Friday then I probably won't be able to until Monday.

However, I have good news to report! I just finished the first novella! I think that's the only reason I was able to write nearly 2k today. It feels good to be done. But now I need to dig up the sequel and start work on that.

Day 16:
Words written today: 307
Total words: 25,355
Fights with computer: 10+

Day 17:
Words written today: 1,948
Total words: 27,303
Words behind: 1,030
Choir shirts sewn: 1
Choir rehearsals attended: 1
Fights with computer: 2

Until next time!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Day 15/Birth of a Novel #2

The long and short of it is that I didn't get anything written today. Technically I'm not behind due to my awesome sprints of the past few days, but I don't like riding this close to the line between on schedule and behind. I wish I had something more wonderful to report (like the finishing of novella #1) but that will have to wait.

It feels a bit weird to be posting about finishing up a story right now when all the NaNo pep talks are about how the first two weeks are the honeymoon and the last two are the hardest. So while others are trying not to fall out of love with their stories, I'll be beginning anew with a fresh and (as it seems right now) more interesting story.

I know once I finish my current novella I'm not going to look at it for a very long time. The poor thing's going to be covered with marks when I finally get back around to editing it. But at least I'll have finished the first draft of it which is an accomplishment. Firequeen, my first NaNo novel, is the only one that has made it all the way to 2nd draft and I didn't even win with that one. I aim to change that this year!

Words written today: 0
Total words: 25,048
Words ahead: 48

Until next time!

Monday, November 14, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Day 14

The end of week 2. It's hard to believe that 14 days have passed during this crazy month of writing. And the good news? I crossed the halfway point today! Now, if my characters would quit taking detours, I might actually finish the first novella tomorrow....

Words written today: 2,544
Total words: 25,048
Words ahead: 1,715

I'm still trying to catch up to a 2k per day average. I'll get there eventually.

Until next time!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Day 12 and 13

Why didn't I post yesterday? Because I was procrastinating so badly that I didn't go to bed till 4 am this morning. Which means I just plain forgot to post. Oh well. It was bad news anyway. I wrote very little on day 12. Now, today, day 13, was very lucky for being such an unlucky number. You don't believe me? Just take a look at these numbers!

Day 12:
Words written: 1,000
Total words: 19,402

Day 13:
Words written today: 3,102 (go me!)
Total words: 22,504
Words ahead: 838

My excuse for the 1k written on Saturday? I vacuumed the entire house, cleaned the bathroom and cooked myself a time consuming supper. So I did accomplish something.

Also, I accomplished something even better Friday night after I posted on here. I had a brainwave about how I would develop a character and end the novella! So, the end is in sight! I didn't finish it like I thought I would this weekend, but I can feel it coming. And the result of developing that character? My MC now has a stalker/overly forward employer whose creepiness is going to end up with....well...I think I'll keep the end a secret. Once I've written the end, I'll tell you how it turned out since there's still one more question to solve at the very end concerning the stalker/creepy employer.

Until next time!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Day 11

*cue happy dance* I'm back into the writing saddle! And I'm not behind anymore. Well, not according to the daily goal on my profile's stat graph. Now, if I was counting according to my usual of 2k per day then I'm still behind by about 3,600 words. But I'll catch that up later. Today was a good day!

Words written today: 3,251
Total words: 18,402
Words ahead: 69

Now, that's a far cry from my goal of hitting 20k today, but at least I caught up. I'll hit 20k tomorrow (and hopefully 21k as well). I just won't get to watch a movie as a reward since I used that up tonight. "The Court Jester" with Danny Kaye is hilarious and kept me in stitches the entire time. Tis a good watch and I would recommend it highly.

Until next time!

Friday, November 11, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Day 10

Another day gone and no more writing accomplished. So I'm officially behind, but not by much. Now, I'm going to try to "catch up" to the daily goal before I go to bed so technically when I go to sleep I won't be behind but that hasn't happened yet. Add to that I want to count what I write towards Friday's goal and I have less motivation to count it towards Thursday.
If you haven't dropped by the Word Wars, Prompts and Sprints area on the NaNoWriMo forums you might not have seen that someone came up with the idea to write 11,111 words on 11/11/11 (111,111 being considered overmuch). I shall try though I know I probably won't pass 5 or 6k max since I've been writing so slow on this novella. Hence why I want to count as much towards it as I can. My goal for tomorrow? Hit 20k! (If you can't tell, I'm in a much better mood than I was earlier today).

So, words written today: 0
But, powerpoints completed: 1
And, 2 1/2 hour choir rehearsals completed: 1 (I was squeaking by the end though)

Now, onto writing!

Until next time!

PS: Make sure to visit the other people in the blog chain!

Angela H.
Anna Mittower
Brooke Busse
Charity Bradford
Elizabeth Davis
Elizabeth Poole
Fida Islaih
Lena Hoppe
Mia Hayson
Miranda Hardy
Nyxie Moon
Tessa C

Thursday, November 10, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Day 8 and 9 Recap in Birth of a Novel #1

I come before you with great trembling to post the results of the past two days. In a word - abysmal. The only good part? I was two days ahead in words count so I could afford to slack off for the past two days. So what did I accomplish?

Day 8:
Words written: 149
Research done: 1 book on noren vs. kicho vs. towels
Helpful writing sites discovered: 1 (thanks to Charity for that distraction)
Other distractions: A lot....

Day 9:
Words written on novel: 0
Words written when jotting down a weird dream from that morning: 600
Free writing books downloaded and begun reading: 7 (you can get the FREE books here on the writer's digest site until the 12th)
Costume distractions: 1 (which turned into plans for next year's comic con)
Powerpoints begun: 1
Doctor Who episodes watched: 1 ("Blink" related to above costume)

Total words unwritten over the two days: 3,849
Number of daydreams interspersed between above activities: countless....

In other words, I've kept myself busy over the past two days with every thing except writing. Of course, some of it wasn't just fun stuff. The powerpoint (which I have to finish up today) is for my mom's presentation she's giving on Saturday. It's just inconveniently timed.

The dream went into my story ideas folder (and it was really, really weird). I think it may have be inspired by the new dystopian, sci-fi anime "Guilty Crown" I was watching before NaNo started and in whose world I've been daydreaming ever since.

Also, thoughts have been festering over the past few days about how bad I'm writing this draft and how I've no clue when or how the end will come. My sentences are too choppy and simple and I've been beating myself over how many 'had's I'm using to tell instead of show....Not good thoughts to be having.

And the solutions are? 1) Force myself to write today and 2) Finish the novella over the weekend (because it's just that close to being done).

Obstacles in the way of said solutions? 1) Finishing that powerpoint, 2) Practicing for the 3) choir rehearsal tonight which is going until it is done meaning it'll take 3-4 hours. I won't get home until 11 pm-12 am which means no time for writing after rehearsal/supper...

I've got a lot of work to do today and not enough time to do it.

Oh, and this is my first official post for the Birth of a Novel blog ring (the reason why I spruced up the blog). What a lovely rant to start off with. I had planned to be upbeat, optimistic, post my synopsis and generally not try to scare new readers off. But oh well. Since I'm running short on time I'll post the others in the blog ring in the post later today of what I manage to accomplish (which I won't get to till after midnight).

Until next time....or should I say later today?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Day 7

And the plot thickens! Or least my MC now has to find a job which she may have. I have no clue if the job will be permanent. I'll find that out tomorrow!
Today I made it to 15k which means I wrote 3k or close to it. The write in was fun even though it was long and only one person showed up. But hey, I sat myself down and made myself write. That's got to count for something.
I've made it one week in and kept a fast, steady pace. There's hope for me now. :)

Words written today: 2,985
Total words: 15,002
Words ahead: 3,336

Until next time!

Monday, November 7, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Day 6

I cut it close again today. I made it to my 2k word goal barely 9 minutes before midnight. But the point is that I made it. And I left the plot hanging on purpose so I'd have a fun part to write tomorrow. She's stolen a map and two guards block her way across the bridge. Can she get back across the river before the sun dawns and she's found? Heehee. As I said, a fun point to start back up on tomorrow.
I'm leading a write-in for my area tomorrow and since I'll be there overlong (around 6-7 hours) I'm aiming for 3k at least if not 4 or 5k. Good luck to me! :)

Words written today: 1,878
Total words: 12,017
Words ahead: 2,017

Until next time!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Day 5

10k! I just passed 10k! *dances happily around the room* True I only hit it 6 minutes before midnight, but I made it! And that means that I can have my reward: eating a candy apple while watching Alice in Wonderland! The plot is still crawling along, but I just dropped some important information into a story a character told. I would be surprised if this story even reaches 25k, but that's why I have the sequel already lined up. And no, I'm not going to tell you what the sequel is about! Not yet, at least.

Words written today: 2,082
Total words: 10,139
Words ahead: 1,806

Until next time!

Friday, November 4, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Day 4 and a New Blog Design!

If you haven't noticed, I changed around my blog today. This sprucing up is so the blog doesn't look so boring. The reason for this will be posted next Tuesday. Look forward to it!
Day 4.....was the hardest yet! Let me explain. Yesterday, I reached the end of the first plot arc in the story so I wrote fast fueled by the excitement of the climax. Today, I started arc or part 2. I didn't even know that this part would exist but it forced itself into existence. And let me tell you, it was a rough forcing. After much fishtailing, I think I've figured out which direction it's wanting to go however it was a hard slog to get even 2k today. But I forced myself to keep the pace and I'm glad I did. The writing should pick up from here on. Well, in this part at least.

Word written today: 2,025
Total words: 8,057
Words ahead: 1,391

Until next time!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Day 3

It is now the third day of my successful NaNoWriMo attempt! I am keeping the pace of 2,000 words a day so we'll see where that takes me. On another note, I read up about the new Alice in Wonderland that came out last year and I think it looks very interesting. I like how they've styled it as a sequel. And so, watching that movie will be my reward for hitting 10,000 words on time (preferably on day 5 though).

Words written today: 1,995
Total words: 6,032
Words ahead: 1,032

Until next time!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Day 2

I am very, very pleased with myself today. I caught up and more! Also, the action is just about to accelerate into all out war.....Quite the convenient stopping place, wouldn't you say?

Word written today: 2,820!
Total words: 4,037
Words ahead: 704

Though I shall try to write 2,000 words a day as an average. I want to finish this first story and get to the sequel soon because it'll be fun and easier to write.

Until next time!

NaNoWriMo: Day 1

As many of you may know, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) takes place in November. And this will be my fifth time attempting it. Hopefully that will include my 2nd win as well but only time will tell. But for why I'm posting. I wish to keep myself accountable to the daily word requirements because I am notoriously bad at keeping them. So here goes nothing.

Word written today: 1,217
Total words: 1,217
Total words behind: 450

Now to catch up tomorrow.

Until next time....

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Sweet Rewards of Exploration

I have a new area to explore. This hobby, though, has tasty rewards. I'm talking about the wide world and art of Japanese cuisine. Art?, you might say, but it is an art. And recently I've been experimenting in not just creating Japanese dishes but creating food art as well.
With Borders going out of business I just had to head over there myself. After scouring the picked clean shelves I found two books of interest, both in the cooking aisle and both on Japanese food. The Decorative Art of Japanese Food Carving by Hiroshi Nagashima details basic but elegant food carving. Let's Cook Japanese Food! by Amy Kaneko is beginning cookbook of Japanese recipes found on the average Japanese dining table but with a Western twist. I wish to focus on the former book for this post though. I shall leave the latter for another time.
For several years now I have been interested in Japanese culture. It began with anime and manga but certainly has not ended there. My recent novel/short story series starts off in Japan which has required much research, but even before that I had developed a taste for Japanese cuisine.
I believe it all started the first time I tasted true home cooked Japanese food. Several friends and I hung out together to watch an entire anime. We started around noon and ended at midnight when the guys were kicked out of the dorm lobby. But we decided to make supper - Japanese style. One friend had the tools to make sushi. Another pitched in miso soup and another make gyoza dumplings (potstickers). I fell in love at first taste. Though, I have come to
the conclusion that sushi is ok once in a while but I dislike how bland it is. This led me to hunt down the ingredients and the recipe for both miso soup and dumplings as well as the soup stock (dashi) recipe. Since then I've been acquiring recipes and trying them out on my poor family.
Back to the food art though. My recent urges have been to duplicate the cute food art so prominently featured in animes, namely octopus wieners and bunny apples. Along the way, I found out about another apple cutting method that makes a leaf. Based on memory and some research, I experimented with these three cutting methods. The results were fun and tasty.

Bunny Apples

Leaf Apples

I think food art is amazing and I hope that I can create more intricate designs with practice. That is one reason I bought The Decorative Art of Japanese Food Carving. I haven't tried any of the carvings yet, but I intend to as soon as I can plan a meal with sufficient time to take garnishes into account.

Until next time!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Observations on a Friday Morning

Thought I'd share an excerpt from today's entry in my journal. Twas written while sitting at work waiting for my shift to begin.

"Oh the antics of squirrels. They provide endless entertainment through their peculiarities . The one in question this morning is a mother squirrel. I don't know the birthing cycles of squirrels, but surely this is too late in the year for it? However, this squirrel journeys back and forth carrying branches and twigs the size of her body. She always climbs up a brick wall and into a hole where the roof meets the wall. I suppose she is building a nest.
At the same time, squeaks and the scrabbling of claws on bark issue from a tree as three squirrels chase each other, whether in play or not I do not know. They scurry up and down branches, spring from branch tip to branch tip all the while making ridiculous screeching noises.

One of these three had a run in earlier with the mother squirrel. He foolishly went running after her. She tensed up and tried to look intimidating. But I think he quit pestering her out of boredom instead of fright. She made sure he was gone, though, before continuing to her nest. And she hasn't come out since."
Until next time!

Monday, April 18, 2011

There and Back Again: The Story of a College Student

This extended break that I have taken is a hallmark of my journal/diary. I often don't remember to write for months. But I am back and, this time, am here to stay. Why? I am in the countdown to graduation. A very late last night enabled me to finish the rough draft of my senior thesis. But that brings me to the point I wish to make today. Point, or rather observation, I suppose.
Late on Friday night I finished the creative portion of my thesis which consists of a sci-fi, time travel story. From the first, I planned to kill a character and I followed through with it, but I found myself oddly moved afterward. I guess I can now sympathize with writers who cry after killing a character. But, what I found to be more curious than this, was how emotionally drained I felt after I finished the last word.
To contrast, last night after I finished the critical and thoroughly non-fiction introduction I felt only elated and hyper. But Friday night I felt jubilant but sad and completely unable to write another word or focus on another writing project. Perhaps now I can understand how and why writers continue to write. It's almost as if you're high on drugs except the thrill comes from seeing word follow word. I am very bad about actually finishing pieces. I start many but finish few. I resolve from this point on to work harder to finish stories. Because, like a junkie, I want to feel that feeling again, the rush of a story climaxing and coming to a close.

Until next time.
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