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NaNoWriMo Aftermath

It’s December, that means holiday cheer, Christmas music, and reflecting back on NaNoWriMo, and what I learned this year.

Ifnov you were following my twitter you might already know that I failed NaNoWriMo this year. In fact it’s the first time in over five years that I’ve lost NaNo. I only got 38,309 words written. Still, I managed an average of 1200 words a day, which isn’t a bad showing. But I didn’t win.

This year was a very slow start. I remember being frustrated, and having to force myself to sit down and write for that first week. And even when I did finally sit down I didn’t have a lot of time. I often became tired, and just gave up after 800-1200 words with the idea that I’d make it up the next week. Only the next week didn’t come. Not really.

I had my moments. Days in which I hit 2200, one glorious moment when I hit 3200. But it was the small days in which I only got 300, or 400 words that caused me to fail. If I had written at least 1000 words a day then the other days, the days when I strove for better, when the story was hitting it’s mark, I would have earn my 50,000 words.

But, there’s a lesson to be learned from the failing, and that is why I do NaNoWriMo every year. Not for the win, not for the words I get ahead in my writing (though that’s nice) but for the things I learn about myself.

This year my heart just didn’t seem to be in NaNoWriMo. It was hard to write, hard to find the words, hard to follow the story at times. I think there were three things that lead to my inability to write as much as I would have liked.

My story wasn’t focused.

I am a both a plotter, and a pantser. I write simple beat style plots for my story (x did this, then did this, then this happened.) Then from those notes I do the actual story. Most of the time it works, but it really depends on how detailed the plot is. Sometimes, like this time, the story grows outside of the original beats and I have to completely rework the novel. This time I had a 2600 word plot exasperated into individual chapters, which a running story line going through it all. But after writing it I realized that pacing and character development weren’t completed. I needed more story. Whole chapters and scenes needed to be added in. More characters created.

I ended up having to rewrite the entire plot line to see what I had already written, and what was missing. That took a couple days, and I still need to do more of it for the last few chapters. The novel is 35,000 words at the moment, but I’m only about half way through the novel.

This plot shifting caused a huge hiccup in my writing schedule. I had to figure out what I was writing before I could even attempt to go forward. But once I did figure it out I had some really good word count days.

My family was more important.

My schedule changed when I got a new job a few months ago. The new schedule means that I go to bed shortly before Gregg (my boyfriend) is getting up. I often get home to find him already asleep, or headed that way. This means we don’t get as much quality time together. And, to be frank, that sucks.

We have had to consciously make time for one another. Adjust sleep schedules. Nap if needed. Anything so that we can spend a little bit of time with one another. My writing has suffered because I’d rather spend time with my boyfriend when I’m able, talking, laughing, and enjoying his company, than finishing my book.

Hopefully our schedules will be more compatible after January, but only time will tell for sure.

I was distracted.

Election day was November 8th, and like many people in the USA I was distracted, watching the debates, reading forum posts and news articles, listening to opposing arguments for and against. I was fascinated by everything happening, and disturbed in many ways. I’m a centrist, I like to vote based on facts, not feelings, so I was appalled by things on both side of this election. Some things more than others, but just because one side is more wrong then the other it didn’t mean I ignored the problem with the apposing side.

I tried avoiding stating my personal viewpoints most of the time online because there were so many people who were just being entirely hateful to one another, on both sides, and it hurt to watch friendships falling apart. One of the few times I spoke up I lost a friend over it. So I stayed quiet for the most part, listening but not saying anything very much except to a few friends, and my boyfriend.

Than one night my boyfriend said “you know what, you should write about these things. It’s clearly eating you up inside, and you need to get these thoughts out. Try writing it down.”

So I did. In the graph above you’ll see two sections. Blue for “The Half Blood Sorceress” series which was my NaNo project. Red for the political writings I started to do. You’ll notice I had a lot to say at first, and it lessoned over time. You’ll also note that as soon as I started getting all of those questions and ideas about politics, society, and social obligations out of my head….I finally started to really work on my book.

(Green is for blog posts and news letters. I don’t count them in my NaNo word counts, but I do keep track of them.)

Will I ever publish those words talking about social inequalities and observations? Maybe, possibly. If I do it won’t be under my name though. It’s too dangerous. People get really mad about politics, and lately it seems there are more people who think that if you don’t agree with them 100% then you’re wrong and they will attack you. I’m a centrist, so that’s not good for me. Both sides tend to attack those in the middle.

Conclusions

Considering my heart just wasn’t in NaNo this year, I still did damn good with my writing. I rarely write 30k in a month. The fact hat I was almost at 40k this month, even with my heart completely somewhere else, means I didn’t do that badly. I’m kind of proud of that.

But it also means I have no excuse for writing less than 30k a month (unless I’m incredibly sick, or my world is falling apart.) Writing is part of me, it keeps me sane. It lets me focus my thoughts, and discuss the world and what I see in it. Writing helps me to understand the world around me.

If I manage another 30k for the month of December than I will have written another quarter of a million words this year. If I can manage that then maybe next years goal will be half a million.

Time to get writing.

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2016 in On Writing

 

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All of the books for 99 cents each. 

It’s the holidays, and with the holidays come all sorts of stress. I hope your holidays find you well, and that you all find the time to enjoy your family and friends. To see the good even when sometimes things look a little bleak.

And thank you for taking a moment out of your day to spend a few minutes reading this.

As a thank  you, this week all of my books are on sale for 99 cents each. All of them!

(And, of course, they are all still available through KU.)

That including my trilogy, The Witch’s Trilogy, the short story series about cursed items, Illicit Gains, and all of the stand alone short stories.

Prophecy by Barlight – A comedic look at self fulfilling prophecies.

Footprints – A man coming to terms with the past.

Flight of the Griffins – The first griffin battle squad.

Potion Shop – A love potion gone wrong.

Small Bites Collection – 12 short stories of a dark and fantastic nature.

Twilight Tales – 3 short stories, of a dark paranormal nature.

There is one more novel that I haven’t mentioned much. It’s an urban fantasy called Forgotten Ones about the reincarnated goddesses of fate, and how they protect humanity from the things that go bump in the night. The first book, Forgotten Ones, is also available at 99 cents this week. I have several more books that I am working on for that series, but for now I hope you enjoy the first one. It is a self contained story, so read without fear.

No go on, have a fantastic December, and a brilliant New Year!

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2016 in On Writing

 

Review: The Thinning

thethinning-001-1046x700The world is over populated, and the UN has decided every country on earth must lower their population by 5% every year to stop the worlds decline. Some countries enact legislation to prevent births, but the USA enacts another law, a far more deadly law. A law in which everyone is tested every year, and the bottom 5% are taken away to be executed.

That’s the premise of YouTube Red’s new movie, The Thinning. A distopian world where 5% of the population is killed because they are the least intelligent. Only what if someone was tampering with the test results? What if it was all based on a lie?

This reminds me of the made for tv movies from SciFi. Entertaining, interesting, maybe even thought provoking. But you look too deep and you tend to see the plot holes. There are a lot of plot holes, but they are small and only noticeable if you are looking for them. Usually they come down to things like “this character shouldn’t be able to do that so easily” sort of devices, so for a YouTube original movie I gave it a pass.

It was very thought provoking, and I have to admit I saw the ending coming. Even so, I quite enjoyed it. I hadn’t heard of Logan Paul before this movie, but I might check out some of his other work now.

If you don’t have YouTube Red to watch this then you could consider getting the free trial and checking it out. There are a few shows on YouTube Red that are pretty good, but I honestly just like the fact that I haven’t seen a commercial on YouTube in months. The extra content is a bonus.

If you like distopian movies, or sci-fi of the week novels, this movie might hit that spot. But just enjoy it for what it is and don’t pick at the plot holes.

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2016 in On Writing

 

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Thankful

It’s 2am the morning after Thanksgiving. I have left over turkey in the fridge, and my children are all safe and sound in their homes. It was a beautiful day with family, and I am forever grateful for it.

Thanksgiving is an odd holiday who’s origins aren’t exactly pleasant. I know a lot of people choose to not celebrate it, and I can understand why, but I think today, above all days, I was thankful for something approaching normal.

For the last few months things have been ugly in many places. Friends and family fighting and bickering over politics, a subject that use to be taboo. Even disowning, or refusing to speak to each other because they didn’t agree with each other. I know a few people have cut me out for similar reasons, which made me sad.

So having a family tradition were we sit together, enjoy good food, and talk about the pleasant things in life was an invaluable experience. We remembered that we had each other, no matter what happened outside the walls of our home. We could rely on one another, and be there for each other. We could be thankful for having that hope. Even in the darkest times you need that lamp post that guides you through the dark. Some visible sign that helps you keep on the path you choose for yourself.

I don’t know what the future holds. But I hold onto the light, and try to hope for a better tomorrow.

I am grateful for the people I hold dear, and hopeful for the future because I know there are so many of us out there who just want the best for our fellow humans. Even if we can’t always agree what “the best” is.

Maybe I’m a bit naive. Maybe I’m simplifying things. But the world has become very complicated in some ways, and a little simplification can help us understand our part in it all. I am one of 7 billion people in the world. My path is my own, and I can’t let anyone else choose it for me. Nor can my small thread make a huge impact on the billions around me. At least not yet.

Wherever you are, and whatever is happening in your life, I hope you find that light to help you down the path of your own life. A lifeline to keep you afloat even when the world is trying to pull you under. And I hope you find a way to see the good in those around you, even when you disagree.

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2016 in Personal Notes

 

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Writing in a Maelstrom

It’s NanWriMo, and my word count is the lowest I have ever had my wordcount in…so many years.

I tried to write, I tried to turn off social media, and ignore the elections, and all the horrible things being said on twitter or reddit, and my brain just keeps going back to it. Back to all the hurt and troubles.

I didn’t vote for Trump. I didn’t want Trump as the president. I didn’t want Hilary either, for a lot of reasons, but that’s no longer important. What is important is going forward, progressing as we always have.

I know people are afraid, and I am afraid for people as well. People who might not have health insurance after this year. People who are afraid that their marriage won’t be legal. People who are afraid of getting deported.

But I’d like to take a moment to remind people that we didn’t get here because of one president, or one politician. We don’t have legal marriage for same sex couples because some person in politics said we could. We have it because we, as a country, stood together against our legislators and told them we believe it is the right thing to do. We didn’t get the right to vote for women, or the desegregation of schools, or the help for those among us with disabilities because of any one person. We stood together, and we made it happen.

Yes, things have changed. Republicans have taken the house, the senate, and the presidency. And a lot of people don’t like Trump, for valid reasons. But we, the people, can still change things. We can still stand up for what’s right. We still have a voice.

BUT! to move forward we, as a country, need to do some healing. We need to be unified in order to do what’s right. To stay in control of our country. We can only do it together.

I know a lot of you are mad at the people who voted for Trump. I know a lot of people would have been just as mad if Hilary had won. And I honestly hope we don’t have an election with two candidates this polarized ever again. But…if we are ever going to make things right we need to know why this happened. We can’t fix things just by shouting slurs at people, you have to find common ground, and rebuild. There is a reason 59 million people voted for Trump. A reason that 20% of the population felt that he was the better candidate. If we don’t start talking about why this happened we’re never going to solve the problem that created it.

Some good videos for this: WheezyWaiter, and H3H3. A beautiful sentiment from Arnold Schwarzenegger. And something to remember from Conan O’Brien.

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2016 in News

 

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Review: Web Series

I’ve watched a lot of web series online, and I thought maybe I could share some of my favorites, and tell you what I like about them. Maybe you can find one you enjoy as well. The only part I find fustrating about web series is that they are so short. But the good ones tend to get more than one season.

Sync– This was originally aired as a series, but now is available as a full length movie. A great scifi adventure where a man keeps replicating himself to infiltrate a facility.

Ren: The Girl with the Mark– Beautifully done fantasy series. A young girl, Ren, discovers that the marked ones aren’t as fictional as she thought they were. Such great acting, and good special effects. I really enjoyed it, and can’t wait for the second season.

Dragon Age: Redemption– Loved the video game, and this short web series inspired by the game is well done. A nice addition to the franchise.

JourneyQuest– This is a really funny series. It’s like a few friends did a really great D&D setting, making up their own paths, then recreated their characters. You have the terrible, and cowardly wizard. A bard with way too much courage. A fighter with more brawn then brains. And the companions just trying to keep everyone alive.

Star Trek Continues– Okay, so, I’m a Trekkie. I love almost all of the Star Trek series, including the original series where Kirk ran around with his shirt torn off half the time, and there was a moral to the story in a lot of the episodes, of not blatantly there at least in the background. So imagine my surprise when I found Star Trek Continues which had so much of that old charm of the original series. Some of their episodes are a bit more heavy handed with the morality, but otherwise I love these episodes. They are just as campy, and cheesy as the original.

Dr Puppet– An adorable stop motion series of Dr Who. Nothing more to say.

Neil’s Puppet Dreams– Still cute puppets, and kind of funny, but a little more adult in content. I love Neil Patrick Harris. He’s amazing, and always entertaining. And the set and puppet design for this are fantastic as well. Sad there were only a few episodes.

Convo’s with my 2 year old– As reenacted by the father, and another full grown man. This series has gotten more hilarious as the family has grown, now with their daughter portrayed as one man, and their son portrayed as another. The acting is fantastic, writing hilarious, and production so well done. But please….maybe I can have just one more cookie.

Mortal Kombat Legacy– This ones a bit harder to find on youtube. It is a Machinama series, and the first season seems to be available in various places, but the second season is not. It came out on blueray a while back so…who knows. But! It is a great series that takes off from the Mortal Kombat games/movies and has a fantastic plot. Incredible production value, and pretty good acting.

LARPs Season 1 and Season 2– This is the story of a group of LARPers, and how everything goes totally wrong. But it might work out in the end. Really well done series, fantastic writing, some good actors, and really funny moments.

Space Janitors– A couple of janitors working on the Death Star, and their friends. For janitors they a really do manage to mess things up a lot.

Of course there is also The Guild, Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, but they are pretty well known, and you can find them on Netflix, too.

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2016 in Review

 

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Hecktic week

flightminiFirst, Flight of the Griffins is out for free this weekend! If you haven’t picked it up, now is a great time to do so.

This week started out fantastic. I wrote “Orange”, a 1700 word short story about surviving a tragedy… and then I got caught up in life again.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day items. There are times in our lives when stress just sucks the creativity away, and you have to deal with the harder things in life before you can deal with creative pursuits.

For me, this week, it was moving my daughters into their new apartment, and helping a friend move out of her parents house. We aren’t quite finished, there are a few more boxes, and they need a little more furniture, but the majority is done. Now I just need to switch my room with my son. That’s going to be a project in itself.

The short stories helped. Writing small bits, and completing them keeps the creative fire burning. A spark ready to go once life settles down for a bit.

Speaking of which, I think life has settle down some. It’s time to go finish “Red,” a short story about a young girl that steals a red cloak from a witch. What could go wrong?

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2016 in Updates

 

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