Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Joys of a Laptop Meltdown

Literal meltdown. My fan went out on my old laptop and melted something on the motherboard inside which caused multiple glitches. In addition I had to set it on an ice pack or point a fan at it to keep the thing from turning itself off. I'm still in the process of tweaking this new laptop to meet my standards for operating (which involves installing a lot of programs or "apps" as Windows 8 terms them). But, now I'm back in the business of writing and just in time for Camp NaNoWriMo in April. Yay!

For camp, my focus will be to add at least four more decent length chapters to Shadowrunning (published and hosted on wattpad). Right now there are five chapters up which marks the completion of the first plot arc. Read and comment please!

Also, I've switched over to hosting and publishing Kagerou (my blog serial story) on wattpad as well. You can find it here: Parts 15 and 16 are up now! (Only up to part 14 is hosted on the blog.) Again, read and comment, please!

Kagerou might take a break during April as I focus on hitting Shadowrunning as hard as possible while juggling an increasingly insane work schedule. This month our teaching hours have gone up and it's not doing me any good stress-wise.

As for the NaNoWriMo interviews, they will resume on Monday as usual with a repeat from a previous guest. Why don't you poke around in the old interviews while you wait and have a guess?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

NaNoWriMo Spotlight 2014: Elijah David

Today's featured interviewee is a throwback to the first ever NaNoWriMo interviews on this blog when I chose from a selection of people who were both a part of NaNoWriMo and the site NarniaWeb. Elijah David is known by shastastwin on both sites and his NaNo novel this year was titled "Albion Apparent". It is good to finally be able to feature him in this series!

Who are you?

I am a copywriter and aspiring novelist from the American South. I am involved in my local church with my wife of nearly three years, where I have lately been writing the dramatic scripts for our cantatas and special services. I am coming up on a year out of my graduate program in Creative Writing. In addition to my job as a copywriter, I am part of the editing and writing staff for the Tolkien-based journal Silver Leaves.

Why did you pick NaNoWriMo to consume your November?

I first participated in NaNo in my senior year of high school. I wrote a sequel to my first novel and ended up writing into the beginning of January despite meeting the 50k goal in November. I tried NaNo a couple of times in undergraduate, but was never able to get very far due to time constraints with school. I tried again one year in graduate school, but the work load was still too much. This year, I was determined to finally accomplish another NaNo, so I signed up. I had finished a read-through of my first draft of the first novel in a series I'd been trying to get written since halfway through my undergraduate courses, and NaNo gave me the opportunity to get a first draft written of the second novel, which had been clamoring for the past year to be written.

What was your novel about? And why did you pick that?

Albion Apparent is about a young wizard named Merlin, a descendant of the Merlin of King Arthur's time. In this book, Merlin is dealing with the aftermath of his first year at the local school of magic, which ended with him facing down a dragon and a mortal classmate who'd been ensorcelled. Among the issues Merlin and his friends have to deal with this year are an army of golems hunting down the descendants of the Round Table knights and a sorcerer who cuts the school and its occupants off from the rest of the world, trapping mortals and wizards alike in close quarters where disagreements and danger are sure to run high.

What is your typical writing process like?

For novels, I typically pre-write as much as possible. I work out the basics of the plot from beginning to end, sometimes with details down to conversations. I also try to have the characters established in my head before writing too far. When I can, I pass what I've written on to an alpha reader before doing a read through to make my own notes for changes. Then I go back for a re-write and repeat the process.

How did your month go?

I finished despite being sick for the first week of the month. I had to really push some days to make up for the lost time, but in the end I was able to meet 50k.

What was the hardest part? What was the easiest part?

The hardest part was catching up from my illness and learning how to skip around in the narrative. The easiest part was writing the interludes that fit between the chapters.

What did you learn from NaNoWriMo this year?

That it's perfectly okay to skip around chronologically when writing a first draft, and that writing too much all at once can be a draining experience that sets me back farther down the road.

Where else can we find you online?

You can find my blog at and the website for Silver Leaves is Check out both for updates about me and my writing and about what's happening at Silver Leaves.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

NaNoWriMo Spotlight 2014: Doddie Householder

 Today's spotlight features Doddie Householder. She goes by Doddie on the NaNoWriMo site and wrote a Horror and Supernatural inspired story for NaNo 2013. She currently lives here in South Korea along with her husband and family.

Who are you?

Ok, I m a former PR Manager who relocated to South Korea to be with my hubby who works as a professor here. We met on Discovery Online and got married in about 3 months after that. We have two sons and now I have transformed from a career girl to a Kitchen Goddess. I still write but no longer press briefs and marketing materials. I now indulge in my passion - horror/ghost stories

Why did you pick NaNoWriMo to consume your November? 

I am a NaNoWriMo newbie. Last year, I counseled a friend who took part but couldn't finish it (stress, crazy schedule, etc.) That's the first time I hear about NaNoWriMo. Said friend promised herself to participate this year and encouraged me to do it as well. With the two of us working as writing buddies, we slaved, toiled, encouraged each other and eventually finished our novels within the deadline.

What was your novel about? And why did you pick that?

My novel is about a girl who was born with the 3rd sight. It chronicles the supernatural things that she sees that no else can and eventually find out that there was a destiny laid out for her. It's a horror novel.

What is your typical writing process like?

Well, as a full-time mom of two Bottomless Pits (aka our teenage sons) and a foodie hubby, it's a full day of cooking, baking, cleaning and organizing for me. So I write at night. Being a night owl myself (or a closeted vampire as my hubby refers to me), I write better at night. I have been known to wake up in the middle of the night and fumble for the night light, glasses, pen and notepad or whatever I can grab my hands to write on and start scribbling a line or two. Those lines eventually get fleshed out as short stories or novellas. I listed to hard rock or simply rock music while I write. It helps with my thought process.

How did your month go?

I finished! Now if I could only finish editing it.

What was the hardest part? What was the easiest part? 

The hardest part was convincing myself to sit down and write. There was a couple of days there that I didn't really want to. So, I didn't and I goofed off. But I made sure to write enough the next days to make up for it. The easiest part? It was the last couple of chapters. I finally saw where my novel was leading to.

What did you learn from NaNoWriMo this year?

I learned that I can write that novel. I am so used to writing short stories (my idols are Poe and Zelasny with their short story anthologies).

Where else can we find you online?

I have two blogs (same name, got hacked and made another blog and got control again and kept both blogs) (living the expat life in Korea) (food recipes - basically Filipino, Korean, American recipes)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

NaNoWriMo Spotlight 2014: Jaap Kemp

Today's interviewee is Jaap Kemp who goes by the name hereslookinatukd on the site. He doesn't have a title for his novel this year, but he won! He and his wife teach at a school near my own and it was a pleasure meeting them at a write-in halfway through NaNoWriMo in Seoul.

Who are you?

I'm originally from Wisconsin, USA, then received my formal education in Minnesota and Maine. I pursued many areas of vocation for many years (librarian, hotelier, internet cartoonist, preacher, mortician, etc.) but was poorly suited for all of them. During my years in Maine I fell in with a thoroughly disreputable cadre of fiction writers, and together we founded the literary movement FICTIONSHARK. I write fiction mainly, but to date I've received my widest audience as a playwright. In my younger and more vulnerable years I fancied myself a poet, but various circumstances and experiences have since convinced me that there is no higher art (written, visual, or auditory) than a well-crafted lie, and fiction, when employed properly, has the greatest potentiality for deception. A fiction is most always preferable to a perceived truth: most people know of the apple that fell on Newton's head, but very few know, or care to know, what gravity is, what causes it, and why. I realize now this is a very roundabout way of explaining myself and who I am.

Why did you pick NaNoWriMo to consume your November?

I'd attempted NaNoWriMo unsuccessfully for a number of years. Last year I was successful in achieving 50,000 words, but failed to achieve what I intended for the work when I first set out to write it, and ultimately I was deeply disappointed in what I produced. This year, having more free time available to me than I'd anticipated, I wanted to write 50,000 words, not merely type 50,000 words (the difference between 'write' and 'type' is as crucial as the difference between 'writer' and 'typist'). My sentiments towards NaNoWriMo are extraordinarily mixed. I deeply appreciate the improvement of literacy and the fostering of artistic endeavors, especially amongst people who do not consider themselves writers or artists. Yet when I see entire message boards dedicated to puffing out word counts by using as many descriptive adjectives as possible as often as possible, or by giving one's characters exceedingly long names, or by inserting a sudden and indefensible dream or drug sequence, this is an insult to all I have fostered within myself and all I hold dear regarding the purpose of writing. The goal should be the work itself, not the word count; the work itself should be encouraged. Word count is a byproduct of the process. And yet encouraging people who would not otherwise do so to write, and to write every day, is a very good thing, I think.

What was your novel about? Also, why did you pick that?

The entirety of my novel evolved from its first sentence, which was a sort of Frankenstein monster of mixed parts from the first sentences of three novels I esteem greatly and hold in high regard: 'Correction' by Thomas Bernhard, 'The Conversions' by Harry Mathews, and 'Grendel' by John Gardner. I took elements from each of these first sentences and then drafted my own. It was a sort of challenge, to see how far I could take a work just from its initial sentence. The narrator is hosting an evening of diversions at his manor house, and the novel covers the events of that afternoon and evening, a sort of highly irreverent 'Mrs. Dalloway.' Along the way to his diversions, the narrator meets with a number of other characters, both human and animal, both living and dead, and receives from each of them a story or sequence of stories, all of which seem to interrelate, and all of which center around the basic idea that the entire text of the Anglo-Saxon epic poem 'Beowulf', and, thus, much of Western culture in the 20th and 21st centuries, has been fundamentally misinterpreted. And yet none of this information truly fits together, or actually means anything. Which, I think, is how we take in most of our information anyway: Wikipedia, Google, and the media. So instead of sitting around glowing fires chanting poems, we now sit around glowing screens and search for information. At any rate, the entire thing is highly absurd and not to be taken seriously in the slightest.

What is your typical writing process like?

Most of my writing process consists of not writing at all. For me it's highly introspective, mulling through ideas and concepts, and yet also acutely observational, taking note of all words or concepts that come my way, because one never knows what thought, however insipid or useless one thinks it is at the time, might be the very thought that saves you or the work. Gene Fowler said that writing is easy, all you have to do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. Most of my writing consists of staring, and appearing to the outside observer to be either very useless or very stupid. But then when the actual writing comes, every word means something. I hand write everything. This, above all, slows me down. The computer is a very efficient machine for typists but a very dangerous one for writers. It allows one the convenience of not having to think out every single word. Writing long hand forces me to think. Then, when the work is finished, I type it into my computer and make certain or uncertain edits along the way.

How did your month go?

I survived. The book stayed with me after November and I finally finished it on New Year's Eve. A good way to end the year.

What was the hardest part? What was the easiest part?

The hardest part was finishing. I knew the ending very early on, so the process of finishing the work wasn't difficult. But it was immensely difficult to end the book, to complete my creation of and interaction with this world and its inhabitants. It was an enjoyable place for me to exist, thoroughly absurd, highly existential. Some might say it was difficult for me to 'come back to reality.' But that depends on how one defines reality. For me, reality is anything that, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. The characters and world will not go away. I abhor the thoughtless assumption that there's 'fiction' on one hand and 'reality' on the other, as if they are opposites and in contention with one another, and as if this so-called 'real world' is a more valid experience than a so-called 'artificial world'. Why does this assumption exist, that the two are mutually exclusive? What we read and how we read (and also the movies and TV shows we watch and how we watch them) inform our daily lives and experiences just as much as our life and experience inform our appreciation of books, films, and TV shows.

The easiest part was the moment just after finishing: setting down the pen, having completed the work, and saying simply, 'Go, my book, and help destroy the world as it is.' That moment when the completed work is yours and yours alone, before you share it and it becomes something else to someone else.

What did you learn from NaNoWriMo this year?

I learned above all else that there is no such thing as success. There are only varying degrees of failure. Samuel Beckett: 'Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.' It's that idea of always failing better, that is the highest aim. How to fail better was and is a good lesson to learn.

Where else can we find you online?

I can be found on the website Leanpub, where my eBook 'Gyrovagues: An Anthology of Interest' is freshly published and available for purchase. It's a collection of miscellaneous writings from the past few years that haven't found a home and I don't know what else to do with--a sort of literary orphanage. There's no fixed price for the book, so you can pay what you want, and 10% of every single purchase will go directly to Liberty in North Korea (LiNK), a non-profit that 'provides protection and aid to North Korean refugees hiding in China and, utilizing a modern-day underground railroad through Southeast Asia, rescues refugees and helps them to reach freedom.' That eBook can be found here:

My full length play 'The Accusing Parlor' (published under the name Jacob Kempfert) is also available for purchase or performance through Breaking Fourth Plays & Press, and can be found here:

Sunday, February 9, 2014

NaNoWriMo Spotlight 2014: ValNomad

For the next interview I have Valerie Hamer who goes by the username ValNomad on the site. Her novel this year was non-fiction and titled "Expats' Medical Mishaps".

Who are you?

I am a Brit who has lived in Asia since 2000. I've been writing since I was 13 but only got more serious about it a couple of years ago. I just started an M.A. in Professional Writing as part of my plan to transition to writing as a full time lifestyle.

Why did you pick NaNoWriMo to consume your November?

This was my 4th NaNo in a row, and my 3rd victory. For me it provides a brilliant opportunity to focus on producing something concrete from the ideas that are always swirling around inside my head.

What was your novel about? Also, why did you pick that?

I chose to work on a non-fiction piece this year, as it's been on the cards for a long time. It's a collection of true medical mishap stories gleaned from expats in Asia and beyond. Although some of the tales are absolutely crazy they all have an element of humour in them.

What is your typical writing process like?

During NaNo it's akin to word vomiting: uou know you'll feel better when it's all out of you! I do tend to jump around from section to section to avoid getting bored, and if I get stuck I write some fake reviews for the finished product.

How did your month go?

I finished but it was touch and go for the longest time. Some days I wrote thousands of words and others none. It helps to be a hermit during the month.

What was the hardest part? What was the easiest part?

The hardest part is getting over the need to feel every word you get out is useful or necessary. The easiest - the last line!

What did you learn from NaNoWriMo this year?

That I need a definite goal in order to push myself beyond what is comfortable.

Where else can we find you online?

Tweet me @Farawayhammer

Blog & more:


My first book:

Sunday, February 2, 2014

NaNoWriMo Spotlight 2014: Joe/Unseenedge

To start off the NaNoer interviews this year is our region's ML: Joe or, as he's known on the site, Unseenedge. This is his first time as an ML and I think he did a pretty good job. The title of his fantasy NaNo novel was "The Torch Bringers".

Who are you?

My name is Joseph Van Dorn, but most people call me Joe. I grew up in southern California, and after graduating at UC Irvine I started the post-grad job search. After finding nothing that I wanted, I decided to see what teaching English abroad was all about. I've been here in South Korea for 4 months now, and Iife has been awesome ever since. 

Why did you pick NaNoWriMo to consume your November?

This was my third nano, and I've always loved the rush of creative energy that NaNoWriMo brings. I was hoping to meet a lot of fellow writers here in Korea, so way back in July I applied for the position of Municipal Liaison (ML), and the folks over at NaNoWriMo HQ gave me the position. As ML, it was my job to organize writing events and to rally the writers in forums. It was the most awesome volunteer position I ever did, and I look forward to keeping NaNoWriMo for as long as I can.

What was your novel about? Also, why did you pick that?

My novel takes places in a fantasy world similar to Harry Potter, though the mechanics of magic are pretty different. The magic users of the world keep their power hidden from the rest of the world, and as a result a lot of abuse and torment is inflicted upon the non-magical. The main characters of my novel seek to break this status quo, revealing the nature of magic to the entire world so true equality may happen. I've been thinking about this story for a long time, and about three months before November I decided to give it literary life. I hope it to be the first story in a fantasy series that I will write, existing as the explanation for the nature of my world. This is my first brush with fantasy, and I must say that I really enjoy the genre.

What is your typical writing process like?

For me, location is very important. I love being in areas with mild distraction, such as a coffee shop (Korea is an awesome place for this). Then, I set a writing goal and work through it, rewarding myself for reaching the half-way point with a pastry or another round of coffee. It terms of the actual process, its really just a matter of "go." Once my first draft is done, I give it about a month of rest before I starting the editing process, working on a writing project during the mean time. 

How did your month go?

This was actually an awesome year for me! I got to the 50K mark on November 20th, and by November 30th I was at 78K. I met a lot of awesome people over the month, and I'm so glad that my first time as ML went so smoothly!

What was the hardest part? What was the easiest part?

The hardest part was balancing the other parts of my life. Sometimes my writing would take me away from other social events and other responsibilities that I have.

The easiest part? Meeting other nano participants! I love being around writers, and I hope to meet with these people many more times over the year!

What did you learn from NaNoWriMo this year?

I learned that writing is a part of who I am, and that I want to make it a more permanent part of my life. Ideally, I'll finish my current book within a few months, and then send it to an agent or publishing house to see how I fare in the writing world. 

Where else can we find you online?

Check out my blog at I even wrote a blog post about my experiences as ML, where I go into more detail about what my month was like. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

NaNoers Galore

Yes, you read that right. A month late my usual NaNoWriMo Interview Feature will go live. Since my current region is Seoul, South Korea I have several interviewees lined up. Also, as usual, there are a few old faces who will come back to give us updates on their latest NaNoWriMo attempt.

The first interview will go live on February 3rd. In the meantime, enjoy an updated version version of the site and a new profile picture for me. (I thought it was about time to upload a more recent picture.)

Until next time!

Picture taken by the lovely Rebekah Smetana on the top of the mountain at Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan.

Monday, January 27, 2014

14 and 15 of the Photo Challenge: Halfway Done!

Yay! 15 marks the halfway mark till 30 days straight of pictures. Today have have two pictures to post. One is of my recently created tabletop group. We're playing Shadowrun which is proving to be far more interesting than Pathfinder ever was. So, the write up started even sooner. You can find it here (with two chapters already up and a third on it's way):

14/30 Make a Memory

As for today's picture, well, I couldn't help but take yet another picture of the floral arrangement I got for Christmas. It's quite dead now though, but still pretty.

15/30 Floral

Saturday, January 25, 2014

13/30 Relaxation

My new favorite drink. A cocktail of soft drink (called cider here) and wine. Yum. I also like how the reflections turned out.

Friday, January 24, 2014

11 and 12 of the Photo Challenge: Antique and Soft to Touch

Yes, I ran out of time yesterday to post a picture (though I had already taken the one I wanted) so here it is along with the picture for today.
Day 11: Dying flower which I think fit the theme Antique
Day 12: A scarf that is Soft to Touch

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

10/30 Childish

The theme for today is Childish. As a teacher my desk is full of childish things. Lately my youngest kids keep giving me stickers which I decorate my board eraser with. (Oh and the plot bunny struck again today. But more on that later.)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

9/30 Books

Thank goodness I still collect books here or else I'd have nothing interesting to take a picture of today. This is a recent acquisition. It's a bilingual copy of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre in one tiny (probably abridged volume). I bought it not for the books (which I can't say I'm a die hard fan of) but rather because it's a story both in English and Korean. Helpful for language learning stuff, you know.

Monday, January 20, 2014

8/30 Shimmer

Feeling a bit uninspired today by the theme "shimmer" so I just took a picture of a drop of shimmery lotion on my hand. It sorta turned out cool, but man do I need to clean my lens...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

7/30 Darkness

A picture of stairs in the night. Quite pretty with the play of light and decorative railings, eh? (Yes, it's not taken with my dSLR but my camera phone did it justice.)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

6/30 Out of Season

So for today we were challenged to post a picture of something "Out of Season". I chose a Thanksgiving/Fall angel that my mom sent me just before Thanksgiving in a care package. Thanks Mom!

Friday, January 17, 2014

5/30 Love

Love is four preschoolers who tackle me every morning at work for a good morning hug while yelling my name. They've made me love them more and more with each passing day. (One of them was not at school today hence why there's only three in the picture.)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

4/30 Bliss

Bliss is finally getting my hands on a ticket for Frozen! (And it doesn't hurt that I have hot chocolate too.) I love the purple paper that CGV prints their tickets on.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

3/30 Light

I took this theme literally. The picture is of my bedside lamp. Cool, eh? What's cooler is that this is SOOC (photog speak for no editing). The bluish bokeh at the top is my favorite part.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

2/30 Vintage

It's time to go old school. Black and white old school that is with a fancy looking Spanish shawl I bought several years ago.

Monday, January 13, 2014

A New 30 Day Challenge

So if you haven't figured it out by now, I fell short of the NaNoWriMo goal by 10k. But 40k was still a very decent number to reach. However, I have a new challenge to post on here. This time it is a 30 day photo challenge.

The first theme was self-portrait and here's the pic. If you like the pictures, I'd love it if you went to flickr and liked or commented them there. :) (Just click the picture to go there.)

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