NaNoWriMo Day 7 – It’s #DoubleUpDay for #NaNoWriMo participants!

For those who might have missed the twitter blitz, or missed the big announcement on the NaNo site, it’s Double Up Day, where your donation to NaNo goes twice as far, and hopefully your word count as well.

Today I managed to get my 6K catch up word count (finally), which is essentially doubling up on my word count because being sick sucks. It helped that today I was running a write in. Have I mentioned I love running a write-in? Because I love running write-ins. I love pushing people towards that 50K line, I love being the cheerleader, not to mention my write-in has all the giant nerds, and I get the most done at my write-in. It’s both an insane amount of fun, and an equal part of insane accountability to get writing done, especially when you have tasty custard and cheese curds before you.

Tomorrow is the beginning of another long work week, so I’d better get started on my sleep so that I’m well rested for work.

End of day word count: 21,004 words.

NaNoWriMo Day 6 – A little unknown fact

I have this really weird quirk about my writing process that a lot of people don’t really know about, unless they’re in my NaNo region: I can’t write when my room is messy. Messy rooms stress me out. It’s a weird cyclical thing to be honest. Because most of the time when my room spirals out of control like that, it’s either because I’m really stressed, or I’m really sick.

This week the messy room was a consequence of the latter (and working thirds, but mostly just being sick). This wouldn’t normally be a a big deal, but I can’t write when my room is messy. When I’m writing and my room is a mess, all my brain zeroes in on is how filthy the place is and how much better off I’d be if the room was clean. It is the death of me during NaNoWriMo.

This only happens when I write. Under any other circumstances, I’d be able to let it slide for a month, month and a half before I forced myself to deal with it; but no, when I’m writing, nothing gets done until my room is a livable space again.

Depending on if and/or when my Dad wants to see the new Peanuts movie, I may pick up all the garbage on my floor today. I’ve done away with all the stray Kleenex’s and all my dirty laundry is someplace other than my dirty laundry bag that also needs to be washed, so that at least takes care of half the battle. If not, I don’t work tonight, so I can always work on that tomorrow morning before I leave for the write-in I’m hosting in town.

Messy rooms suck. Meh.

To cleaning and then kicking off from where I left off two days ago (because I spent yet another day being so miserable from being sick that I spent nearly the entire day in bed).

NaNoWriMo Day 4 – the joys of being sick

So i didn’t get any writing done yesterday. I was so miserable being sick I spent pretty much the whole day in bed.  Not that I have any regrets. I certainly feel better today than I did yesterday.

That only meant that I had to play catch up today. And when you’re doing 3K a day, that’s a lot of catch up to do. The last time I was averaging 6K a day was before I developed Tendinitis in my right wrist. Which is to say, the last time I averaged 6K a day was the first year I did NaNoWriMo, and I do not recommend that personally. The good news though is that I did catch up on my word count. May not have made a whole lot of progress moving forward in the story, but at least my word count is going up.

Oh, the joys of being a pantser.

End of day word count: 12,099

NaNoWriMo Day 2 – Once more with Word Wars

Today was much better on the writing front. My hands and my brain did a better job of talking to each other, so there were no unfortunate typos. Interestingly enough, I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep today.

Why you ask?

Well, long story short I got home from my third shift, and, shortly after cuddling into bed for some sleep, I got a phone call from my doctor’s office because I’ve been feeling like crap the last few weeks. As it turned out, they called to let me know they’d gotten my request for an appointment and offered an afternoon appointment that could only be accommodated by a glorified nap. So I didn’t get a lot of sleep, but I did find out that I have a sinus infection. Wheee! /not

Fortunately I was able to hop into the nano chat room for my region and kickstart my writing for the day with a few word wars to get the creative juices started. Now I just have to figure out how to break the news to a character that my MC was in love with his mom 30+ years ago (keeping in mind that my MC has been in a goddess induced slumber for 30+ years). Talk about things that are definitely /not/ awkward conversation topics.

Ending the day at 6,099.

NaNoWriMo Day 1 – Out of the gate and into the race

This year I’ve been pushing for a personal best in word count. Last year, thanks to a fun spirited regional word war between my region and Naperville, I achieved a personal best of 63K. And since I’m all about pushing myself to do more and do better, well, this year I’m pushing for 70K.

So far I have already committed enough typos in our regional chat room that it’s clear this is going to be a fun ride. The brain and the fingers, for whatever reason, are not working in concert today.  Which isn’t so bad when you work at a convenience store on third shift and the only thing you have to write is dates on date stickers. It’s another thing when you’re trying to write a novel and make a blog entry and trying to clearly communicate in a chat room.

On the novel front things are moving along slowly, but I generally try to let things start off slow so my characters and story can get settled in before taking off for a wild ride.

2,750 words and climbing!

Mixing things up for NaNoWriMo 2015


Yep. It’s that time of year again! This year I’ve decided to do something a little different than what I’ve done in Nano’s past. This will be my 9th novel and I thought it might interesting to people reading my blog about how this year goes. Yep, I’m going to blog about my writing this year, which kind of seems like a novel concept given that this blog literally started as a pep talk blog for NaNoWriMo for one of my college courses.

 This year I’m continuing on what has turned out to be a steampunk fantasy novel. It sort of happened after I bragged to several members of my region that I was going to “kill Timmy” in my novel, Timmy being the chat bot that lurks the NaNo chat rooms. I really want to try and beat my personal best in terms of word count this year. Last year, I blew it out of the water during a regional word war with the Naperville region, when I won NaNo with a staggering 63,020 words. This year I’m aiming for more than that.

Luckily this year, my region has been challenged by the Dayton, Ohio region, so that should be some pretty solid motivation to keep writing on in spite of everything going on at work, including working thirds (blech), and this relentless cold. I’m also hosting my Saturday write-in again this year, so there’s accountability there, plus a Tuesday Night write-in that should keep me plenty focused on reaching my word count goals. I’m optimistic in spite of everything going on, so here it goes, and I hope you guys enjoy the ride!

Ebook Review: Demigods of Olympus


You’re probably wondering if this is in any way related to the app I reviewed over a year ago, yes. Yes, it is still a pick-your-own-adventure type story. It is the exact same story, with a few minor differences, and I’m not entirely sure that they are good differences. Let me explain.

My understanding is that this was written for people who don’t have the app. Although, for something that was written for people who don’t have the app, it’s a little confusing why Rick Riordan hasn’t released the final chapter, “My Personal Zombie Apocalypse” for the app, when he had the whole story released for ebook form. Now granted, it would be another $2.99 through the app and I, probably against my better judgement, shelled out $6.99 for the ebook (although it wasn’t the $8.99 that Google Play is going to regularly charge). However, with the ebook released, it would be prudent for app users to have the satisfaction of finishing the journey that they started over a year ago. That being said, if you have the app, skip the book. It’s not worth shelling out the extra money. Is waiting going to be a pain in the ass? Yes. But you’re better off shelling out the $2.99 for the last chapter rather than shelling out an additional $6.99, or whatever your ebook retailer of choice charges.

Another difference is that you don’t really get to make as many choices in the ebook version. The app  allows about five choices per chapter, but the ebook gives you about two choices and then a link that says “do the thing” (whatever that thing happens to be, like for example there’s one where you have no other choice other than to put on the ring you pick up in the third chapter don’t do it Frodo). Much of the freedom of choice is constrained by the fact that Riordan creates the protagonist for you, unsurprisingly a male protagonist by the name of Zane Carver (I really wish he  would have created a female protagonist, but that’s just my personal preference).  Right away one of the obvious changes from the app version is that Zane apparently doesn’t select a favorite god/godess in the narrative, not that it ends up mattering, but you never get to make that decision for Zane, as opposed to the app, where your character is pretty much an avatar for yourself.

Now, if you’re wondering if the ebook is offered through the app, the answer is no. It’s the exact same story and there’s no point in selling an ebook of the same story you’re selling in installments, and so that makes sense.

Overall, if you don’t have the app, you might enjoy the ebook, but I will throw out the caution that for the limited about of choices you get, it probably won’t feel like it’s worth the money. It’s not a must read, and it’s underwhelming. So If you have the app, take a pass on this one. It’s not worth the extra money. Save it for the last chapter.

Book Review: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet


I miss this blog so much, but work has been insane. But I’m hoping that things get better once National Novel Writing Month.

But I just finished a book, because I managed to get enough time in to actually read.Yep, I actually found time to read this weekend. Of course, my parents are also out of town for the weekend, so I’ve had a lot of time to myself. I actually bought The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet for my trip to Wisconsin, but that never happened.

Let me start this off by saying that I love the Lizzie Bennet Diaries web series. I gave to the kickstarter and got the DVDs, and I like rewatching them over and over again. When I heard they were doing a tie-in novel, I was excited and couldn’t wait to be able to afford it. I have wanted this book for a year.

The book was disappointing.

As far as diaries go, this is a let down. Not very introspective, except for when Lizzie’s opinions of people is changing. That’s about the only time you get some introspection. You don’t even get much that’s different from the video in terms of scenes. There are a handful of scenes sprinkled throughout the diary that aren’t in the videos. Lizzie having some intimate conversations with her dad about Lydia and finances, Lizzie’s conversations with Dr. Gardiner, there’s a moment, while they’re at Netherfield (that I’m not spoiling here), that doesn’t even get alluded to in the videos.

Most of the diary is the videos in narrative form, we’re just getting the events described in the videos before the video hypothetically airs. Each entry includes hyperlinks in the ebook format to the video, or videos, that follow each entry, cluing the reader in that the experience isn’t just reading the diary, it’s reading the entry or entries, then watching the videos that correspond with the entry you read. I understand that it adds a level of interactivity with the material for something that has been a multi-media platform experience, but by doing that, the material in the diary entries should have gone more in depth, and depth was something in the diaries that was seriously lacking. Lizzie still held back significantly for something that should be a confessional style diary.

There are two or three occasions where the video is transcribed word for word, which baffled me and still makes no sense. I feel like Rorick and Su could have found a way to describe the events that transpired during a video recording, because diaries are supposed to be, by their nature, introspective. They could have delved into the more emotional aspects of the transcribed videos, while not losing Lizzie’s voice. Transcribing the videos verbatim was a lazy way out of really getting into the essence of who Lizzie is and what’s going on in her head during these videos, not to mention it defeats the purpose of watching the corresponding video.

Overall, it’s still worth a read, but if you’ve already watched the videos, you might want to give this one a pass. You’ve already heard about 90% of the material covered in the book through Lizzie’s vlogs.

I’m hoping The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet turns out to be better, at least I would hope so for a book that takes place in the aftermath of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Maybe we might see a slightly more emotional voice, and something a little more introspective, since there will not be the reliance on video blogs.

Review: Disney Hyperion’s Demigods of Olympus app


For those of you wondering why I fell off the face off the planet, it wasn’t just my job, although that had a good deal to do with it. I’ve also been catching up on my long list of books to read (still slogging through Storm of Swords), a constantly growing list these days. On that to-read list involved an app Disney Hyperion released called Demigods of Olympus, which includes a fun pick your own adventure style story set in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and Kane Chronicles Universe where the gods of myth are real.

Getting started took awhile. I was a little surprised to find that this app has a name generator for it’s interactive story, because this isn’t exactly a situation where a user might not use proper discretion for something that’s for grownups and children. I was a little confused why there were only one or two female names for the five name options you were given for your character. Once or twice I stumbled upon gender neutral names, but overall, the app assumes you mostly want to play a male character. I had to refresh the name generator five times to stumble across the one I selected in the screenshot above. The first chapter is free to get access to, but I’m not entirely certain Disney is being reasonable in the $3 you have to pay just to get to the next chapter (yeah, they only have 2 chapters available now), when I can purchase one of Riordan’s novels for just $1 or $2 more.

The app also boasts a store where you can purchase all of Rick Riordan’s novels, companion books and crossover short stories. If you haven’t bought any of Riordan’s books in e-book format, that could be a plus, because the app then stores your e-book purchases in the library section of the app, along with the chapters you purchase the interactive story part of the app. For me, this wasn’t as much of a perk or selling point because I’ve been building my e-book collection through Google Play’s ebookstore, and might not be a huge selling point for people who already have his books through kindle or nook. This particular feature is a little late in the game for fans who already have all the ebooks, but may be great for readers being exposed to Riordan’s world for the first time and want to purchase more of his works, or for people who are looking to start an e-book collection on their new e-reader or tablet.

Overall, I’d give it a 4/5 for the app. Fun, but not worth racing to the app store, and the baffling pricing for just one chapter.

Writers need to do more than just write

When I was going through my professional writing degree program, our department head, who was also my professor, had a mantra that he often impressed on us in our non-writing classes – “It’s no longer good enough to just write. Writers need to do more than just write these days to get a job, and that’s why you’re taking these courses.”

My design courses frustrated me to no end. My big sister would hardly find this surprising, as art was never one of my strengths, yet somehow I managed an A in both of my design courses during my college career. I also somehow managed to stumble, quite clumsily through a writing for the web course, where we had to build our own website on Drupal 7. Now I’m not going to sit here and say that those were a waste of money, but today’s job market, as writers, we can’t just breeze through the job listings hoping we can find some place where we can “just write”.

For example, while I was taking my introductory document design course, I did some volunteering for my former church’s marketing and communications division (yes, my former church is that big). You would have thought that for all the glossy fliers with elaborate graphic designs, we would have been able to put out a half decent weekly newsletter that clearly presented all the events in various church ministries every week.

Not so much.

In fact, my document design professor took a jab at it when I showed him the newsletter, saying “it looks like something a church would put out, multi-colored paper and all!” I couldn’t defend it, since I knew church used Adobe InDesign, and this half-letter, black lettering on neon pink paper newsletter was a poor offering for such a highly advanced program, and a church that spared no expense on its pamphlets, bulletins, and hand out cards. So I did a redesign for a class project, starting the project by using a larger paper size (half-legal) and adding color .

This was the result:

Weekly project

It made a huge difference, and I think that was when it dawned on me that maybe there was a logic to what the writing department was doing. Writers in the professional world need to not only write, but present their writing clearly, and effectively to their audience. What the redesign taught me wasn’t that I was good at document design, but that presentation still matters, and as writers, we will do well to remember that how we present our writing matters.