Saturday, December 21, 2013

Scifaiku Saturday #3

solstice night
the dragon's breathe chilled
as his nemesis is born

Notes: Happy solstice, all. I'm always drawn to the savior mythology that flows around this time of year. The savior, however, is always one for mankind. For other creatures of the world, the one called to end their existence is born. 

Feel free to comment or leave poetry replies below. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Scifaiku Saturday #2

the rose's petals
only knowing the caress
of a metal hand

Feel free to leave comments or haiku replies below.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Scifaiku Saturday #1

I've decided to launch a weekly feature on my blog called Scifaiku Saturday. I love short form poetry, and I'd love to reconnect with science fiction haiku. I roughly take the definition of scifaiku outlined in the SciFaiku Manifesto while expanding the definition to include other speculative genres and senryu on said subjects. Moving on to the more fun part! Here is my first scifaiku of the week:

metal apply makeup
even a cyborg
has to look her best

Feel free to leave comments or haiku replies below.

Friday, December 6, 2013

7 Tips For Winning NaNoWriMo

While I’m still fresh on my NaNoWriMo win high, I’d like to take a moment to give some tips on what got me through the month and to a win.

1. Before the month starts, decide what is important to you. You’re going to be getting out an average of 1,667 words per day at least in order to finish the month with a win. If you’re not used to writing nearly that much and you’re embroiled in work and/or school, you’re going to need to set priorities. My personal priorities for the month were to keep up my general WoW playing schedule, get 8 hours of sleep per night, and spend time with my fiance in the evenings. What did I have to let slide to accomplish those goals? The house looked like a tornado composed of books, video games and clothing tore through it. While that bothered me somewhat, I had to be willing to let my annoyance go in order to be able to push through the month with some degree of sanity left at the end.

2. Write wherever and whenever you can. Got a lull or break at work? Write (without getting fired)! Sitting on the couch idly playing Candy Crush and checking Facebook? Write! Remember that list of priorities we just made? If it’s not an essential bodily function or something you prioritized on that list, you should be writing. Carry around tools to help you with that goal. Even though I’m not a fan of it, you could write on your smartphone while standing in line for Chinese food. As my portable device of choice, I chose to carry around an Alphasmart 3000. If you’re going to be using multiple computers, you can stash work on Google Docs so that you can access the document from any computer with an internet connection. Install Dropbox on all of your computers at home so that you don’t have the excuse that you’re not working on your usual machine.

3. Back dat data up. You do not want the devastation of losing all of your words. Though I did not lose my words during NaNo, I had lost track of a flash drive containing all of my late high school and early college poetry for the past couple of years. I sort of gave up hope of finding the little device until it decided to resurface during this November. As you can guess, the contents are now safely dwelling in a Dropbox account. I already mentioned several ways of actually backing up your data above. You could also store your backups on a flash drive rather than an online service. Just choose a way that works for you, and back up regularly.

I am this squirrel. 
4. Caffeine, caffeine, caffeine. I’m a caffeine addict. I have been since I tried my first energy drink in 8th grade, a Red Bull that sent me soaring. Nowadays, I lean less towards energy drinks or soda pops like Mountain Dew or Vault. Instead, I partake much more often in caffeine rich tea or coffee. I actually justified my purchase of a k-cup brewing machine in late October by saying to myself, “It’ll really help with NaNo.” Oh, and it did with the smooth, smooth convenience. Choose a convenient caffeine laced drink to help you deal with the harder moments of the month at least. Those tired moments creep up all too often, and you want to be prepared.

5. Connect with your local writing community. I didn't do nearly as much of this as I would have liked during NaNo, but I still found interacting with fellow writers in person to really help. I couldn’t attend a write-in without feeling immense pressure from the productivity all around me that compelled me to stop staring blankly at my keyboard and actually write.

6. Connect with the community online. Seeing people in person can be nice, but if you can’t attend write-ins or just get too stricken with anxiety to leave the house, then virtual connections can be very useful. I added a number of the Booktubers that I follow to my buddy list. I ended up exchanging encouraging messages with them and a few others that I friended through the forums. I also used being able to see their word counts as a challenge, and I secretly engaged myself with wanting to be above the word counts I saw on my buddy list.

7. Remember to have a little fun. I know I’m contradicting some of my advice above. However, you don’t want to end up a burnt out husk of a human being at the end of the month or have a mental breakdown mid-month. I took the time to see Catching Fire and Thor: The Dark World with my friends this month. I dangled games in front of my face like Hearthstone and Super Mario 3D World as carrots to be relished after I finished my word count for the day. Remember to have fun while challenging yourself to win.

I wrote out the comments which helped me the most to make it through the month. What are some of your tips and recommendations for winning NaNoWriMo? Feel free to comment below.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 28 + 29 + 30

On the 28th of November, I met my work count for the day with a total of 46,763 words at the end of the day. I spent a good portion of the day cleaning up the house from a month worth of messiness and then my fiance and I meeting up with my sister to celebrate Thanksgiving at a local Indian restaurant. Thanksgiving tends not to be a very vegetarian friendly holiday, so I was glad to have a chance to go somewhere that I'd be able to have lots of delicious options easily.

The morning of the 29th I awoke to Black Friday, the biggest consumer holiday of the year. I don't do Black Friday because I don't see the deals being worth my sleep and the slim, slim risk of being trampled to death or being stabbed in a Walmart parking lot over a parking space. So, with the outside feeling particularly dangerous outside and getting all of my needed consumer action from Chuck Wendig's Twitter feed #talesfromblackfriday, I sat down at my desk to write. With about 3,300 words to go, I dreaded that I would feel clogged up and filled with dread as I wrote while falling asleep the night before. Instead, I felt more of the excitement that I felt at the beginning of the month as I rushed through the words and found myself really getting into the flow of my tale's ending, helped along by a cup of Dark Magic. With much trepidation, I made it to my word count goal needed then validated my words in the official validation tool which I noted tended to eat a few of my Open Office words. The result? I made my way to 50,076 words! I felt stunned and like I was about to cry. Even though what I thought would be a very short novella isn't done with the ending portions of part two missing and large segments of part three completely not done, I felt like I had some something for once that I could feel pride in myself for. After winning, I took the chance to relax with video games for the past couple of days, though I'm already working on another romantic fantasy short story in my thoughts while letting The Red Queen simmer in my Dropbox until January. After taking a break for two week, I hope to get back on writing my planned short story at least. I'll spend the first two weeks in December fully recuperating and outlining while catching up on some reading and actually beating the Elite Four in Pokemon X. Though I didn't attend my municipality's
"Thank God It's Over Party", I did enjoy some eggnog pancakes at IHOP this evening. I feel more hopeful than I've felt in a long while, and I'm looking forward to what the next few months hold.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 24 + 25 + 26 + 27

The days are increasingly blending together as I get deeper into the month. Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and I took off from work today in advance and hoped to maybe push myself over the edge to winning. Sadly, things like cleaning for relatives coming over tomorrow and playing Hearthstone to relax when I felt I was on the verge of panic attacks got in the way of me getting much further beyond the word count for today. I'm on par at 45k which the word goal for today, but I'm really getting the the point where I just want to hit 50k so I can hide this work in my Dropbox until January and get more sleep and exercise during December. The rest of the week has passed in a similar sort of sleepy state. I've made my word count for every day, but all I've wanted has been a chance to not have to get up at 6 o'clock in the morning, sit at a desk for 8 hours then come home and sit at a desk for even more time. I've also been waking up in the night shivering and sweating, filled with thoughts of fear over my own possible failure. I'm just trying to pull myself together at the idea of actually living my dream, and much of the time when I'm actually writing feels glorious and creative. I just really need to draw on that feeling of fun during the last few days of the month.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 20 + 21 + 22 + 23

My writing for the last few days has been lethargic. On Wednesday evening, I had a party to attend for my fiance's mother's birthday, Thursday I wound up doing normal raiding with my guild on my hunter, Friday was a very long day at work followed by flex mode raiding on my priest, and Saturday resulted in me meeting up with my friends and seeing Catching Fire. Yes, it was amazing. Yes, you should go see it though waiting until after NaNoWriMo is done would be a wiser decision. Super Mario 3D World for the Wii U also came out this week. Oh, and did I mention that I spent last night and this afternoon tensely reading Dawn of the Aspects by Richard A. Knaak which is a WoW companion book? If you're a WoW fiend and looking for some gripping proto-drake on proto-drake fighting along with further discovering the origins of the Dragon Aspects, you to grab a copy of the combined edition of all the serialized ebooks.

In spite of all of the social functions and media overload, I've been making my minimum word count for each day though not powering ahead like I initially planned. I'm somewhat worried about getting finished with the holidays come up next week and with my house being an utter wreck and with me having guests over and with... well, you get the idea. I'm going to wrap up my blog post today with a picture of the cute plush fire ant that I got for further novel inspiration. I'll be off to write now and break at least 40k tonight, hopefully more.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

NaNoWriMo 17 + 18 + 19

I decided to dedicate most of Sunday the 17th to making progress on my novel and that was apparently a mistake. I had a hard time concentrating, and I kept getting distracted and watching Supernatural with my fiance. I think part of what contributed to my trouble with writing was wearing clothes that weren't terribly comfortable. Note to self: Dressing in your Sunday best doesn't seem to yield the most productive results while sitting on the couch writing.

Monday went considerably better. I woke up feeling really sick, so I had to take the day off from work. While I was at home, I got both World of Warcraft valor capping on my hunter done AND I wrote 3000 words! I think that’s the best I've ever done in terms of words on a given day. I feel like I've found the key to concentrating and driving myself into a focused trance. I managed to get myself a day ahead which felt awesome.

Seriously, this dino is a mofo.
Yesterday, I had a bit less luck but I had considerably less writing time. Work was really busy, so I couldn't really find any time to write during a break or something before leaving. I then had to run daily tasks then come home and attempt to relax for a bit. I got into a looking for raid group on my hunter that end up taking 2 hours to complete with about 1 hour being spent on us wiping continually on Thok the Bloodthirsty. After that was over, I was still very tired like I had been the rest of the day, of course, but I made myself at least pump out 900 words so that I don’t start falling behind my word count again or relying too heavily on having padding.

On a somewhat related note, I finally invested in Mugging the Muse by Holly Lisle. A little bit of history is needed here. I first discovered Holly Lisle while doing my first real writing attempts in high school. Her blog, loaded up through my poor dial up internet connection, helped to teach me the hard truth that becoming a published author would be difficult. However, she also taught me that pursuing that dream would be considerably rewarding. As a poor high school student, I could not buy any of her books at the time as much as I wanted them. Flashing forward to now, I can much more easily afford her works. Especially with the Mugging the Muse book updated to talk about self publishing now and only costing 99 cents as an ebook, I think this book is an incredible steal even though I’m not that deep into it. Holly has a wonderfully straightforward writing style, and the journaling exercises so far have been really helping me and inspiring me as I go through NaNoWriMo. For less than the cost of a vending machine drink, I definitely recommend gleaning some writing wisdom from this book.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 14 + 15 + 16

On the 14th and 15th, I found myself barely writing at all and being caught up in other aspects of life (read: World of Warcraft). So I found myself at the beginning of today with needing about 2,500 words in order to hit 26,666. I can proudly say that I've gotten down those 2,500 words that I needed so that I could hit the 25,000 word halfway mark and push beyond up to where I need to be by the end of today. I had initially hoped to rush through to 30,000 today, but I see a small chance of that happening before the end of tonight with how burnt I'm feeling right now, so I'll hopefully forge ahead to 27,000 and call it a night.

I got a large amount of my words down today while typing at my local library on my Alphasmart. I'm coming to really love that little device a little more with each use. Though the majority of my words haven't been on it, I love using it when I'm feeling really distracted and when I'm working in public. I also really enjoy how it doesn't get hot like my laptop does.

Finally, I also attended my local library's 'Write Club' today which was a fun lecture on how music can influence your writing. I already like to listen to music while writing and using it to amplify the emotion of a scene, but I did get some more ideas on how use music such as writing down which each scene what song I initially listened to to help me maintain the feel that I had when writing it the first time.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 12 + 13

Also pictured: New coffee to try
and rocking bug earrings from Old Navy
I was sad to have my long weekend end especially as the day I returned to my work was my birthday. I pushed through and had a pretty happy day overall, though. I was thrilled to break 20,000 yesterday. As I've said before, I've already surpassed how far I've ever gotten into a novel before already, so I felt like I was going to cry upon reaching that word goal post. My writing today has been somewhat more sluggish due to a lack of sleep from playing World of Warcraft too late last night, but I've made it into the word goal for the day already. I hope to get a bit further later today though going to bed already is sounding like a great idea. Finally, I bought myself a nifty little trinket yesterday: a burned wood pin which says "Poet". I've been eyeing it for a while, and I’m happy to have another item which helps to bolster my perception of myself as a writer.

Monday, November 11, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 9 + 10 + 11

I'll be turning 24 tomorrow (yay!), so in anticipation of being trapped at work on my actual birthday, I spent my long weekend indulging in birthday fun which, while having some impact on my word count, hasn't caused me to get behind yet.

On Saturday, I finished part 1 of The Red Queen. Ah man, I was so excited to get the words for that mini climax down, and I didn't write much beyond my needed word count for that day. On Sunday, I went out and had a great time with my friends for the day. We ate at Genghis Grill which is basically an assemble your own food bowl place where they then grill the components and serve it with your choice of rice or noodle. I'm so happy that they cater to vegetarians and have a tofu option, so I totally indulged myself in a delicious bowl filled with steamed white rice. My fiance also was a sweetie and made me a soynut butter Reese's style cake as I'm allergic to peanut butter. Heaven! I miss the taste of peanut butter cups, so I'm always happen to have an approximation for a food that I used to love so much. Near the end of the day, I saw Thor: The Dark World at the theater. Hint: It was awesome! I then came home and read the second volume of the New 52 Aquaman series and the Green Lantern: Secret Origin that I grabbed second hand a while ago. 

So, what did all this fun yesterday net me? A big fat zero words. Luckily, I had enough words already to make the needed word count for that day, though I did lose the lead that I had on my words. Today, I spent a good part of the day actually making it to my new word count goal, though, the day isn't over yet and I may get some more done before I get in bed tonight to hit 20,000. I've been propelling myself forward with sugary, delicious coffee in the NaNoWriMo to go mug that I ordered to inspire myself. If When I win NaNoWriMo this year, I plan to order a winner's t-shirt. ^_^

Friday, November 8, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 7 + 8

I took today off from work so that I could stay home and watch Blizzcon. I took advantage of the fact that I wouldn't have to go to work by writing well past midnight last night and getting to around slightly above 13,000 words with the aid of coffee and persistence. Today, after watching the portions of Blizzcon I was really interested in (ie, the premier of Warlords of Draenor), I took off again with writing and got to 15,000 words. I'm nearing the end of part one of my novel/novella, and I'm incredibly happy to feel the first plot arc profiling the general life of fire ants in their native environment done. The momentum of the climax of a mini arc and getting to deploy the ant raft made me overjoyed. I've learned much more about ants, a subject I've been fascinated with since being a child, so I'm just thrilled with being able to cram my brain with more and more knowledge as the month goes on. I'm no longer as far ahead as I was last weekend, but I'm glad to be more excited again after experiencing the depression I'd had the two days before now.
Seriously, The Snow Field is awesome.

Another topic I want to touch upon briefly is how does one feel like a writer? Of course, a writer is simply a person who... well, writes. Merriam-Webster defines it simply as:


 noun \ˈrī-tər\
: someone whose work is to write books, poems, stories, etc.
: someone who has written something

A lot of times, however, I don't really feel like a writer as silly as that may sound. I hold the word writer up as some sort of prized title reserved for in general people who aren't me. To boost my self esteem sometimes, I attempt to dress like a writer. Yes, I completely realize that writers don't have one general way of dressing. But I attempt to dress up as what my likely stereotypical idea of a writer is. I try to get my outer world to reflect what I want my inner world and representation to be. I'm in the process of trying to acquire some fall and winter pieces that make me feel sophisticated and literate. Pictured are some tights I love which are decorated with lovely silverware. I'm infatuated with Victorian aesthetics, and something about imagining myself as a well versed lady of that era really does make me feel like a writer if only for a little while. So, what would my end message here be? Even if it makes you feel a little silly, don't be afraid to do simple things to boost your self esteem as a writer. At the end of the day, if you're trying and making words happen, you are a writer as long as you're putting the words down.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 5 + 6

So, I'm starting to get a case of the NaNoWriMo doldrums. On the 5th day, I broke through to 10,000 words. However, I only wrote around roughly 700 words that day. I had a very hard time continuing to write on as I experienced a very emotional character death. Yes, I know you might wonder, how am I getting torn up over the death of a fire ant especially when a number have already died in my work? I don't want to go into too many details, but this one was... special. Not in that she served a particularly unique role that couldn't be fulfilled by any other colony member. No, I just became particularly attached to her, and I began to cry in the moment that I realized she was going to die. One might argue that as a writer, I could have written for her to not die. I could have indeed. However, doing so would have violated the flow of the story and the end that I knew she was destined to meet. At least she died in glorious fire ant on army ant combat, so she'll be taking her place "in ant Valhalla" as my fiance said while comforting me about the issue.

Yesterday, I wrote about 1,700 words. I was starting to experience a sense of being overwhelmed, though. I've written almost 12,000 words so far. But I still have so much further to go. The high of my achievement is starting to wear off, and I'm struggling to find the inspiration to continue to push forward. My thoughts are filled with self doubt and pain. I'm worried if The Red Queen will ever be a work that people read or if the story will just rot in my Dropbox account. I've wanted to be a published novelist for so long. In all of my years of not trying to reach that dream, I felt the sort of comfort that comes from not trying. It makes sense to not have anyone reading your novel if you haven't even written it yet, right? But now, I'll have the pressure and haunted feeling of knowing that I can go forward and that I should go forward. I have the pain of knowing that I will be rejected again and again as I float from slush pile to slush pile.

All of those thoughts are nearly too much to think about, so I'm just working on pushing them from my mind. I'm just going to clamor to find the perseverance to push through my fears and to continue on with this wildly exciting and terrifying month.

Monday, November 4, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 3 + 4

Yesterday, I attended a local write in for the Birmingham municipality. I was late to the very start of the event since I was having a blast in inflatable jumping pens and slides at my fiance's niece's birthday party. I'm amazingly out of shape but having a chance to play like a child was refreshing. So, by the time I went to the write in, it was well underway. I felt nervous, but noted that the Little Professor Bookshop had a nice indie bookstore feel, and they graciously hosted the write in on their upstairs level.

I'm not quite sure what I expected at a write in though in all honesty. Lots of writers communing and outwardly commiserating on the toils of making a word count? I probably should have thought it through a bit more. I encountered a set of tables on arrival, full of people typing in silence. It was a sea of earplugs and laptops accompanied by a frantic pace of typing. I felt awkwardness on noting that no seats were available when I arrived, so my social anxiety took over and I just sort of stood there paralyzed by my awkwardness. Luckily, my municipal liaison noticed me standing there and brought up some more seats for me and my fiance to sit in. My fiance worked on coding a new video game idea we've been bouncing around between each other for a while until his laptop died at which point he left his seat to go downstairs and wait for me to finish my words by playing Pokemon Y. 

And so I sat upstairs with my AlphaSmart 3000 staring at me in this silence. I then began to write. I wrote for about an hour and a half with a few minor breaks to stare off into space and let my mind meander to the next plot point. The event began to wane down and some of the local writers began to wander off. I took my leave too after feeling drained for the day. I grabbed an issue of Writer's Digest for later processing that I'll probably nibble at throughout the course of the week.

Once I arrived home, I sat down at the computer again with playing WoW as my main intention. However, I kept feeling mentally pestered by my work, and I just had to begin writing again. My fiance prepared me a cup of coffee and I sat there for several hours bouncing between writing and running dungeon raids in WoW. At the end of the day, I found that I'd written a total of 3000 words, an amount I don't think I've ever matched in writing fiction and that I've only matched under the immense pressure of a large research paper put off until the last moment. My total word count was now around 7500. 

I didn't continue to have quite as much steam today while at work. I got in a good number of words and pushed myself to over 9000, though. WHAT? NINE THOUSAND? Yes, I've already surpassed how far I got during that NaNoWriMo so many years ago while I was in high school. I felt exultant, like crying from the joy of my accomplishment. Even if I refuse to write another word about ants, I'll be further into this work than I've ever been into any other before.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 1 + 2

The past two days have been a blur of tea and text. I've been pushing myself, and I've written about 4550 words so far. I don't know if I can really describe how surreal that is to me. I haven't written fiction in so long. With all of the near panic attacks and fits of self doubt I had right at the beginning of day 1, I really thought I was sunk right then and there. But here I am having finished my word count for the past two days plus some extra AND having time to sit and write a blog post with yet more words. I can't believe I'm actually pouring forth this idea I've been beating around in my head for so long but never taking any action to put that idea into full words. It's just an amazing feeling of exhilaration, and I'll be proud of myself even if I don't get any further this month.

Tomorrow I'll be going to a local write in, so I'm looking forward to getting even more of this blaze done. I've also... 'customized' my AlphaSmart 3000 so I'll have to post pictures of that. Finally, if you want to be another one of my NaNoWriMo buddies, please check out my profile to cheer me on in my progress on my novel about fire ants and their trip to the United States, The Red Queen.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

NaNoWriMo Survival Kit Preparation + Local NaNoWriMo Kickoff Party

Okay, maybe survival kit is a bit of a stretch for what I've made. But I do really want to win NaNoWriMo this year. The depressing tone of my first post really made me think of how much I need to try this right now. Even if those 50,000 words turn out to be utter trash, I can at least have the pride of knowing that I tried.

Anyway! On to my survival list! 

  • Inspirational notebook: I've already used the notebook for outlining my novel during my lunch breaks at work. I'll also be needing it during the month of November for jotting down random notes when I just don't have time to type. 
  • AlphaSmart 3000: I just got this new baby in the mail today. I've wanted one for sooooo long, and I'm glad to have one for my novel writing experience. A portable keyboard with a no distractions interface for writing? Sign me up!
  • 3 boxes of Annie's Bunny Graham Friends: I need a delicious snack that at least has the pretense of being a bit healthier for me. 
  • A fresh store of Earl Grey tea: I also have some pumpkin spice coffee on hand. Caffeine is going to be need to power a number of critical junctions in this journey. 
Also, I attended my local municipality's Kick-Off Party. I got to meet some local Wrimo's along with getting some much needed social interaction with new people. We played a couple of party games with our novels then got a chance to just chat with each other.  Hopefully, I'll be able to attend the group's first official write-in for the season this coming Sunday. ^_^

Sunday, October 27, 2013

So I'm Embarking On An Adventure Again

If I take one more step, it'll be the farthest away from home I've ever been. 
~Samwise Gamgee, Lord of the Rings

A writer is a person who writes, correct? I don't write very often anymore, so I'm not quite sure if I warrant the title at the moment. I used to write. I used to submit myself to the altar of editors, hoping and praying to have my poetry published. Sometimes, it was published. I felt glorious shining moments upon seeing my words online at various sites and even rarely in print. But more often, I felt worn down. I burned myself out in late high school with a desperate drive to write, not just for writing's sake, but to give myself the high of being published, the high of feeling like an acceptable person propelled up by this outside self esteem boost. 

And so I burnt out. I left my high school years and stopped writing. Poetry didn't flow from my fingers, and the words would not touch my mind. Throughout my years in college, I was an editor for the honors program literary magazine at my university, and I took two different creative writing courses. But the ideas still would not fly. And that is why I am here writing at this moment. I wish to reclaim that part of myself that lies weakened. I want to water the creativity that I've let dry up over the course of time. I want to finally stop running from the fact that being a writer seems to unprofitable and impossible and just write. I just want to write and be a writer and enjoy being a writer. Maybe I'd like to attempt publication again one day. But for now, I just want the words to come. I just want this thirst to go away.