NaNoWriMo 2017 Aftermath

It is December first, and NaNoWriMo is over. Now we are all celebrating our victories, or licking our wounds. I am doing both.

For the second time in nine years I’ve failed NaNoWriMo, but boy did I come close. 4365 words from my goal, and I just could not go on. My brain, and my fingers, just gave out. I had been pushing all day long, and I managed to write 7284 words in one day, but I just couldn’t get those last four thousand words.

This was an incredible month, and I learned more about myself, and my novel, than I would have any other time. I threw away chapters, and rewrote a whole synopsis. I got stuck on the novel and went over to write some short stories for the day. I gave up on the original idea I thought I’d write because it just didn’t work. And I got that much closer to finishing book two and three of the new series.

Why did I fail? Well, I had a slow start. I fell into my stride about half way through the month, and finally found what I needed to say. That drove the story forward, and the words piled up. Had I found that story, and my perseverance, a couple weeks sooner I wouldn’t have had that epic writing day at the end.

However, that day writing 7k words was pretty exciting. That shows me that it’s possible, and if I keep pushing myself, and my endurance, some day I might be able to do writing days like that regularly.

I can make excuses about being distracted by life, children getting the flu, and feeling down the first week of this month, but ultimately they are all excuses. The truth is we all have those things happen. Life is not fair, life does not care if you’re trying to write every night. It simply is, and sometimes you have a bad day and you have to write anyway.

So I’m going to be brutally honest with myself, and you, and show exactly why I failed this years writing challenge.

First, for me I know that if I don’t write for a few days it is really difficult for me to keep writing. If I take a week off it takes me a while to get back into the swing of things. If something stressful is going on it’s that much worse.

So here is a chart showing how many words I’ve written every year for the last five years.

I have one month left in 2017, and I am 83,000 words behind my worst year out of the last five. And 48,000 of those words were written in one month. THAT, dear reader, is why I lost NaNoWriMo. Not because the kids were sick and we had to take them to the hospital. Not because I lost the story. Not because I had a couple bad days, or didn’t get enough sleep. It’s because I haven’t written that much this year anyway.

It’s not easy to look at this chart. Writing has been an incredibly important thing for me for as long as I can remember, and it’s upsetting to see how little care I put into my writing this year. Yes, I’ve written 65,000 words just on my new series, but that’s half as much as I wrote on the Witch’s Curse books each year when I was working to get them finished. And the question is why? Why did I give up? Why didn’t I push myself? Why did I choose video games over writing? Or a movie? Or a craft?

I’ve been asking myself that a lot these days. What do I want out of my life? Out of day job? Out of my writing? And I think that’s why I’ve been writing less. I wasn’t sure if it was what I wanted to focus on, because I wasn’t sure if it could get me the one thing I wanted more than anything.

Gregg, my boyfriend, started his own business this year. He works harder than ever, but he’s happier then he’s ever been. And he’s his own boss. No one to be accountable to accept himself (and maybe his audience) and….well no management to look over his shoulder, count the beans, and make sure he’s “doing his job right.” He’s accountable to himself, his art, and fans he’s gathering. And he’s so happy!

That’s what I want for myself, I just haven’t figured out how to do it yet. Writing seems to be the thing that I’m best at, but I’m still pretty horrible at marketing. I know that because I’ve tried a LOT of marketing this year with maybe okay results. But we live, we learn, and we try something new, right?

The world is a strange place. We have adages like “do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” and “fake it till you make it” but no one tells you that someone has to weed the yard. Someone has to fix the plumbing. Someone has to pick up the trash. They probably didn’t want that for their life’s work either, but there they are. Supporting their family and doing a job so they can have a home, and set the table every night. But when you believe those adages and you aren’t doing what you love as a job you start to feel like you’re not good enough. And so here I was, feeling like I wasn’t good enough. Wondering if I should just give up and let writing be a hobby, like video games or crafts, instead of just working my butt of for the next novel, and trying to make a living on it.

And the truth is I don’t know. I don’t know if I will ever be able to make enough so that I can stop working for someone else. I don’t know if I will ever get a book out that strikes a cord with readers. I don’t know…if I’m good enough. But ultimately it doesn’t matter. I love to write, and I’m going to keep doing it.

So, this NaNoWriMo I learned to stop wallowing in my own self pity, and wondering what if, and just enjoy writing the story again.

And that’s what I’m going to do. Starting tomorrow. Today was a day for reflection.

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Posted by on December 2, 2017 in On Writing


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You can’t afford a computer?

For the longest time I’ve wanted a laptop to travel with so I could write while on the go. Work, breaks, hotels at cons, anything so I didn’t have to stop writing because we were away from home. But laptops seemed pricy, and easy to steal, break, or generally mess up. Plus the laptop we did have was pretty heavy, though I liked the larger screen.

What isn’t heavy, ultra expensive, and doesn’t take up much room? A tablet.

I found a kindle fire for as low as $30 right now for Christmas discounts. Add a folding blue tooth keyboard for $30 and you have a basic computer for $60. There are word processors available on the store, it’s wifi capable, and you’ll even find lots of free games on amazon.

The set up I have was a little more. My keyboard came with a case that folds into a stand. There are also several kindle fires available, some have ads, some don’t, and storage size is different (but remember they take memory cards). You can choose which is best for you. And you may want to purchase or subscribe to a writing program that backs everything up online for easy transfer of files. There is a way to load Google play onto a kindle, that way you can get drop box, but it does take a little work.

If you get an iPad or Android tablet you can possibly avoid the side loading process. Buyer beware though, there are copycat tablets out there that run Android but don’t have Google play, and the one I purchased couldn’t load many websites because it was missing drivers. Then I couldn’t update anything because it wasn’t Google ready.

The word processor I’m using isn’t as great as scrivener, but it gets the job done. In fact I’ve found it’s easier to turn off my internal editor because it isn’t constantly underlining my miss spelled words. Maybe someone will make a scrivener style app for kindle someday. (Hint to any developers out there. I’d pay for it!)

Here is my set up.

The keyboard is smaller so I wouldn’t recommend it for long writing sessions, but it’s perfect for short sessions, or writing down scenes when you are away from home. If you want a better set up there are full size blue tooth keyboards that you can get. They will also work with the kindle.

My set up when it’s ready to go. Light, compact, and flips open. Only thing I’m missing is screen protector.


Posted by on November 26, 2017 in On Writing


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I’ve been using challenges to learn things about myself, and the world around me for some time. NaNoWriMo for five years, the Bradbury Challenge a couple years ago, and last October I did Inktober and Drawtober,

Both ink and draw-tober are about drawing every day in October. I managed to draw 27 drawings, and ink 24 of them. I even add some color to a few.

For each challenge I put myself threw I try to take something out of it. From this one I learned that I loved drawing strange, and unusual things. I loved pushing my creativity in art as well as words. I hadn’t done more then cute little chibi’s of super heroes and other odd things lately, but this had me drawing steam powered submarines, and spider ballerinas, poison fairies and underwater wraiths. I did things with an ink pen I never would have thought to do before.

It was also invigorating. I did a lot of this challenge while we were traveling for twitchcon. We had days where we only slept for four hours, only to get up and put more leather together to get the armor set done. And yet I still managed to do so much. It just goes to show how much you can get done even when there’s a time crunch. Even when you’re sleep deprived. Even if you’re busy and the world doesn’t slow down so you can get your words, or ink lines in.

And in the end being creative is amazing, whatever creative thing you’re trying to do.

You can see more of the drawings, and pictures from twitchcon, over on instagram. 

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Posted by on November 12, 2017 in On Writing


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An open letter to Wil Wheaton

A couple years ago I turned on Twitter to read my feed and realized I hadn’t seen a post from Wil Wheaton in a while. He was one of the first celebrities I followed, first because I enjoyed Star Trek as a teen, and secondly because I enjoyed his writing. So I found it dismaying to go to his feed and discover I had been blocked.

I soon realized this was a thing, and that he blocked 20k+ people who he termed as trolls.

Me? A troll?

For a moment I tried to think of a reason I had been blocked, and then promptly forgot about it since it wasn’t that important. I hadn’t spoken to him, and while I found his content funny or interesting at times, it really didn’t make a huge difference. I stopped following his content, watching his YouTube, or buying his books, and found other authors who hadn’t blocked me.

But there was a consequence to him blocking me that I didn’t learn until later. You see Mr. Wheaton didn’t just block 20k+ people. He put out a block bot so that others could block them as well. Hundreds of people blocking me just because someone decided I was undesirable without even speaking to me.

What could I have done to be labled undesirable? Perhaps it was my insistence that wearing sexy armor in video games isn’t sexist, and can even be empowering for women. Mr Wheaton posts a lot of Suicide Girl content so you would think he’d agree with that.

Perhaps it was my insistence that as a survivor of rape and abuse I didn’t have to live as a victim, and others could be helped to stop letting their past dictate who they are, and instead take control of their life. Heaven knows at least one ‘friend’ ditched me after I said that to him.

Maybe it was because I follow many people labled ‘deplorable’, as well as those from the other side because I do not want to be part of an echo chamber. I want to see why others feel the way they do, and learn from that. I want to love my enemies, and give them fewer reasons to be my enemy. I want to be a shining example of what I always thought a good person would be. (Not that I’m always good at that part, but I try.) And to me being a good person always meant accepting people where they were, and trying to encourage them, not tear them down.

Maybe it’s because I was outspoken about my disagreements with Anita Sarkisian who saw sexism in everything, even Mario rescuing Peach. But you know what I think of when I see damsel in distress tropes? I think of my boyfriend who helped me cope with my social anxiety, who held my hand to steady me when I wanted to run from the room, who pushed me to run after my dreams instead of being afraid of them. Rescuing damsels isn’t just about blowing up bad guys and storming the castle, it’s about being a rock in the storm. A safety net. A partner. And my boyfriend definitely rescued me, many times.

Whatever reason Mr Wheaton decided to block me, that’s fine. But it saddens me that his judgment has been substituted for others. They blindly download his block list and do not make a choice for themselves, they allow the choice to be made for them.

I have been cut off from a segment of society that has decided the echo chamber is better. No opinion outside theirs is okay, and anyone who disagrees is banished.

Maybe not a bad thing to be cut off from, it sounds incredibly stifling. But a bad trend in general. Echo chambers can never survive because no two people think exactly alike in all things. Eventually they break down.

And yet, other than being cut off from a few people, Mr Wheaton’s block list has not hurt my life. I guess it doesn’t really matter in the end.

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Posted by on November 6, 2017 in Personal Notes


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Me too. I was abused as a child. I was raped as an adult. So yes, I can say me too.

I also have male relatives that were molested as a child. And male friends who were asulted or abused as adults. I had a friend who was being stalked by his ex. I watched her beat him, throw things at him, and make him bleed. I watched him defend himself by begging her to leave, telling her she wasn’t supposed to be there. Do you know how ineffective begging your attacker to stop is? Pretty damn ineffective.

The outcome of that situation…she called the cops and said he broke the restraining order he had. All she had to do was say “I saw his truck pass by my place” and they went to pick him up, and put him back in jail. No proof. Often he was on the other side of town, nowhere near her, and they just picked him up.

But that restraining order was awesome. For an answer is perfect ammo to control your victim. She was able to get it in no time flat just by saying he hit her, even though he didn’t. And he felt so guilty for just holding her wrists so she couldn’t punch him that he just let it happen.

This is a culture where men have been told so often that they are the aggressors, they are the problem, they are the abusers, that when they are abused they can not see it. And when they speak out they are either ignored or told to shut up.

So, me too. I was abused. And I know a lot of women, and men, who have been abused. I know men and women who have been abusers. And I know that the law often is used as a way of abusing men because we are trained to believe women, not men.

I was abused, but the abuse that was done to me does not define me. I define me. And I will keep saying that, keep shouting that from the roofs, keep encouraging others to say that until we stop being sexist to men. Until we start treating women as actual human beings who can heal and grow instead of fragile flowers that must be protected from every little thing.

We can not move forward unless we acknowledge that humans are humans, and it does not matter what sex you are, what race you are, what religion you began with. Those things have more to do with what you were born to, and what genetics you have, then what mind you have inside you. None of those external things define you as much as your mind and heart do. And until we learn that, until we learn that we can be more than what others define us as, we can not move forward from this place.

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Posted by on October 20, 2017 in social issues


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One more day

Yesterday I finished writing Costume Shop, which I’ve been working on for a couple years. It’s a Halloween story, so I always worked on it in the fall. I’d write a few paragraphs then Halloween would be over and I’d move on to something else.

This year I had the beautiful art done by my daughter to spur me on. I really wanted to get it done, and out, so that everyone could see it. So I finally finished it.

Which brings us to the next part; editing. And I only have one more day to do that before we get in a car for a week long journey to LA, and twitchcon.

I’ve already done a bunch of editing, so it’s only a matter of going back over it once or twice and cleaning it up, but still…. I have to actually do it.

If I manage it Costume Shop will be available this weekend. It is an RL Stein style chapter book for younger readers. I might even do a few more in this style…. We will see.

For now I am mostly packed for twitchcon. Gregg has a few finishing touches to do tomorrow, and then we start driving. Well I start driving. I’m sure he’ll take the wheel after a much needed nap.

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Posted by on October 17, 2017 in Stories


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Review: The Orville

I grew up on Star Trek. I loved watching Kirk battle the monster of the week, especially if the monster was himself. I welcomed The Next Generation when it came out, and LOVED it, even i the first year was a little rough around the edges. I didn’t care, I was able to travel across the galaxy with a sentient android, and various crew members from different races.

I use to watch Voyager every night when I got home from work. I watched many episodes twice. I loved Janeway’s get it done attitude, and Checoti made a wonderful counterpoint to her sometimes blind desire to get the crew home.

I’ve also watched a lot of the fan made series on you tube, some of which are really good!

What I’m saying is….I LOVE STAR TREK! I love the messages, examining each story, seeing allegories in modern life, and the shear fun of monster of the week mayhem some days. Sometimes a bug is just a bug and you have to kill it.

Now there is a new Star Trek, and it’s locked safely behind a paywall, so I haven’t seen it yet. I’ve heard mixed reviews. Some love it, some find it a little too preachy. The fact that the writers specifically said their Klingon’s are modeled off “Trump supporters” gives me some reservations, but I’m willing to give it a shot. After all, the original Star Trek often comments on society, and ways to improve it. Maybe this one will have some good insights as well.

But for now, since I’m not going to pay for a paywall till the full season is out, I am watching The Orville.

I caught a glimpse of the Orville while at work and thought the design, space, and ship looked a bit like Star Trek, though not quite. I also saw that it was advertised as a comedy. Of course I had to try it.

What I found wasn’t quite a sitcom in space, and it wasn’t quite a Star Trek space opera. It was something in the middle, with enough parody to keep it from tripping copyright, and enough space opera goodness to quench my craving for the cheesy experience.

The juxtaposition of cliche modern language in a space ship that is supposed to be from the future is kind of absurd, but it works. The ex husband and wife team cause just enough strife to keep everyone on their toes, but they also work well together because they know each other. The two pilots often say inane things that remind you they are two dudes from this world, and this time line, that got to play a role on their favorite space opera. Their reactions often would have no place outside a college dorm, or a sports party. And yet it works.

The first few episodes have ship to ship and hand to hand battles. There is character growth, unusually characters from other cultures, and even some important discussion of two cultures colliding, and not seeing eye to eye.

And while all of that is what I expect from a space opera style show I can also see that it’s campy, throws in jokes that aren’t always appropriate to the time period, and setting. But that’s the charm. The original Star Trek had bad fx and latex masks, The Orville has cheesy jokes at odd places. It works.

Now, I it isn’t perfect. The writing is still rough, but I think it’s showing some potential. I also like that it doesn’t spoon feed you a moral. On the third episode dealing with a child that was born the wrong gender, and dealing with the sex change of the child, the answer wasn’t handed to you neatly packaged as “this is the truth”, rather it was “this is what’s happening, but we feel uncomfortable about it even if this is how it has to be…for now.” And we, as the audience, are allowed to decide for ourselves why these things happened the way it did, and the ramifications of it all.

I’ll be watching more of The Orville, and I hope they will take us to many places far far away, with interesting characters and species from the edges of the galaxy.

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Posted by on October 14, 2017 in On Writing


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