Tuesday, January 16, 2018

January Slump is Strong

Well, I didn't finish my goal this week to write and edit both chapters two and three in order to quicken my pace with "Peeping Tomcat." I did manage to get chapter two done, however, so I didn't slack off completely. I've also worked on bits of other chapters scattered around, basically following whatever I was motivated to work on in order to keep from doing nothing. I did finally start re-writing chapter three last night, though, so there's that.

Oh, and I also started coming up with chapter titles! Simple one-word ones. Yay, naming things! I can do it! Thus far I have chapter one "Mistake" and chapter two "Itch". I think I have a title for chapter three, but I want to finish the chapter re-write first to make sure it still applies. As of right now it's "Contrast", but I don't like that title as much as I like the others.

Also, I have a title for the pinnacle chapter of this thing, but I'm not sure if I'm going to keep it. I'll have to wait until I get to editing that chapter and see if it still fits. As of right now, though, the title of the chapter I posted as a teaser preview is "Truth."

Whoot, look at me go with this titling thing! Ironically, this was the week that this writing meme made another circuit around my end of the internet, both on my wall and in the fanfiction group I'm a part of.
Me and Irony are such friends. I think if I ever write an autobiography my title will be something to that effect: "Me and Irony are Buds (When It Doesn't Want to Kick My Butt)"

That's it. That's all the writing progress I have to tell you. I have the second chapter done as far as it's going to be without outside help, I edited a bit here and there throughout the rest of the story, and I started re-writing the third chapter last night. And I'm apparently good at titles now....

Such a great week.

I guess it's better than no progress, though, so there's that.

Most of the week was spent finishing up "Ender's Shadow" finally. Can mark that one off of last year's reading challenge. I then had two days of doing virtually nothing. I'm a bit burnt out in January, so I spent the time playing some simple online flash games or watching TV.

I need the sun to come back and the cold to go away. I'll be more likely to come out of hiding from under my blankets then. Might be productive.

The reason I didn't even read during those two days is that Hubby apparently lent out his copy of "Ender's Game" and we never got it back. So I needed time to steal away to the library. Now that I have the library's copy, which is split in the middle and feels like it's going to fall apart any minute now, I've been breezing through it. Orson Scott Card was a faster-paced writer back when he wrote "Ender's Game," considering the story was originally a short that he was convinced to expand into a full novel. I'm already six chapters in, which probably doesn't sound like a lot.

Only getting six chapters into a quick-read book when I've had it since Saturday afternoon is probably why I'm amazed that others can read 100 books a year when I can barely get in a dozen. To be fair, though, I tend to read slow to fully absorb, and flip back to re-read something that was purposely vague at first, but is cleared up later, and I mostly read only during lunch breaks at work. Add in the fact that I'm also both taking notes on "Ender's Game" as well as comparing to my notes on "Ender's Shadow" in order to get the full picture of the story Card is trying to tell, and it bogs the whole thing down.

Still, all of this note taking and immersion into the story just reminds me why, when Hubby had me read "Ender's Game" my senior year of college, I added writing a film adaptation of it to my bucket list. I had to later cross that off simply because Card himself wrote an adaptation of his own story, and who can really do better than the author himself? Granted, the movie was tweaked after he submitted his script, so it still had more inaccuracies than it probably already did, and now I would want to tell the story kind of straddling both "Ender's Game" and "Ender's Shadow" to tell Ender's and Bean's story at the same time. Still, I don't think people would really want a remake of a movie when the original author's adaptation wasn't as beloved and renowned as it probably should be.

I'm going to have to re-watch the movie once I'm done with the book to remind myself what was good and what went wrong with it....

Finally, after a long hiatus to try to catch up on production, the latest Miraculous Ladybug episode was released this weekend, and it was already posted to YouTube. I do feel guilty about watching it there, but I also plan on re-watching everything multiple times once it comes to Netflix, and I already know I'm going to be buying the season DVDs at some point. So this small indiscretion of not waiting for the official American release is fine, right?

Anyway, this whole episode was pretty much all MariChat.

Quick refresher. In the show Miraculous Ladybug the two main characters are Marinette and Adrien. Marinette is secretly the superheroine Ladybug, and Adrien is secretly her partner Cat Noir, or Chat Noir if you want to be authentic. Ladybug and Cat Noir don't know who the other truly is. Because of this, there's a love-square between the two of them.

Marinette loves Adrien who loves Ladybug. However, since Ladybug is Marinette and in love with Adrien, but she doesn't know that Adrien is Cat Noir, Ladybug dismisses Cat's advances. Meanwhile, since Adrien doesn't realize his shy and clumsy classmate Marinette is actually his love Ladybug, he just thinks of her as a good friend.

HOWEVER, the second season is definitely stressing the fact that Adrien DOES have a crush on Marinette, but is blinded to his own crush by his love for Ladybug, having that consume him so much that he doesn't even realize his other feelings.

Okay, another quick refresher on the ship names now that the love-square is explained.
LadyNoir shippers want romantic scenes between Ladybug and Cat Noir specifically. Keep in mind that both Adrien and Marinette showcase a completely different side of themselves when they're superheroes, so there is a distinct difference between Ladybug and Marinette, as with Cat Noir and Adrien. Anyway, this season there has been at least two episodes where there were potential LadyNoir elements.

Ladrien shippers want Ladybug with Adrien. It's minimal, since Ladybug tries to stay professional, especially around citizens, but there were some scenes in the first season, and another partial episode in the second season. While this seems to be the "win-win" ship - Adrien gets his love Ladybug, and Marinette gets her love Adrien while being her confident Ladybug self - it also gets the fewest screen time because of Ladybug's professionalism would mean she wouldn't do anything.

MariChat shippers actually want the two versions that have no interest in each other to change their mind. Since neither realizes that they're with the one they love, neither would be nervous around the other, and so a true romance could bloom. Also, people think this is the most "sinful" ship, so it tends to get the most love. There were a few scenes in the first season for this ship, but the episode I watched this past weekend was pretty much full of MariChat potential. More on that in a moment.

Finally, there's good old Adrienette, where the shippers want those two crazy kids to just hook up in their civilian forms already so they could actually do things like go on dates. If I had to chose, I'd say I'm an Adrienette shipper, but I see the other three leading to this end result. I'm cool if any of the other ships "win" and become canon first, because in the end the two will realize who each other is, and Adrienette will be the end result.

Now, that being said, I'm not the only one who realizes that if one ship is achieved then they're all achieved, since it's the same two people. Every shipper understands this, but it's not that simple. First of all, just because one ship showcases mutual romantic interest doesn't mean they realize the secret identities of each other, and/or it doesn't mean that all four scenarios will have mutual romantic interest shown. In fact, one ship getting steam may mean the death, or near death, of others. If Ladybug starts falling for Cat Noir, she may start giving up on Adrien, and the Ladrien and Adrienette ships will tank until she finds out that Cat and Adrien are the same guy. Same if Adrien finally realizes his crush on Marinette. He might give up on Ladybug after constantly getting rejected, and thus LadyNoir and Ladrien will die off.

It's a delicate balance to keep all four ships going, and the showrunners are doing a great job at it.

But this ninth episode this season! So much MariChat potential, but it also has some LadyNoir, complete with Ladybug blushing a bit at Cat Noir's sincerity about his feelings. This is where the infamous "balcony scene" shot originates from. The one that MariChat fans have been waiting for since the shot was teased months ago.
There's more, but I don't want to spoil.

It does give me a lot to work with, though. I got to see how Cat Noir and Marinette would interact without an Akuma attack to worry about. It shows me what Adrien does as Cat when he's not battling. It lets me see how Cat can keep missing Tikki floating around Marinette. It also gives me more brooding Cat.

I mean, look at this face!
Who wouldn't want to hug this kid just to make him smile again!?

Now to use this new info to motivate me to write. I was able to get more inside info on Cat. I can work with this. I just need the discipline to do so.

Also, there is an interesting conundrum that came up with this season. Thus far, there hasn't been anything in the new season that has really countered what I had in my story already, which means I could have it be considered "season 2 compliant" even though I wrote it before watching the second season. HOWEVER, there is ONE key thing that would make it non-season 2 compliant. In one of the second season episodes Tikki and Plagg get to see each other, which means they know who Ladybug and Cat Noir truly are! They're not saying anything, though.

Problem is that Plagg not knowing that Tikki was with Marinette is kind of a big thing in my story. So, do I go non-second-season compliant even though it could still fit? Or do I just ignore that one episode so I could include things like Adrien and Marinette's dance at Chloe's party, or Adrien's gift to Marinette for her birthday, or even anything from this past episode. However, I don't know how compliant I'd be with this either since both Marinette and Ladybug admit to Cat Noir that she likes someone else, but didn't tell him who, obviously.

How about partially compliant? Adrien remembers the dance at Chloe's, but hasn't finished making Marinette's birthday gift yet? Slide it in before episode 4 and go AU from there? Thoughts?

How about this for a thought: stop procrastinating and go write! I like that one....

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Never Judge A Character By The Narrator

Today is kind of a melancholy day for me. It's the 20-yr anniversary of my father passing away, ending his fight against cancer. While this is indeed sad, it also happened over half of my lifetime ago. I'm at peace, but it's still.... melancholy. I mean, how can it not be?

Anyway, I'm not here to depress anyone. I'm here to talk about my writing.

One week into 2018 and I almost failed one of my resolutions already: no more than three Zero-Days in one week.

I was in a reading mood this week. I'm nearing the end of "Ender's Shadow" and I probably would be done by now if I didn't stop to take notes on each chapter as I went.

For those who don't know, "Ender's Shadow" is a parallel story to Orson Scott Card's flagship novel "Ender's Game." The book I'm reading now is the same time frame as "Ender's Game" except told with Bean as the main character, instead of him being a little snot of a secondary character that shows up about half-way through "Ender's Game." Once done with "Ender's Shadow" I want to go back and re-read "Ender's Game" with a new perspective on the events, and see how they compare or contrast with Ender's view of the same events. Also, through Bean, I was able to get insight on a lot of the background stuff, and it will be interesting to see things unfold in "Ender's Game" and now have the background information as to how that came about.

My memory is kind of pathetic though, and so I'm taking notes on where the parallel stories connect or might influence each other, that way when I'm re-reading "Ender's Game" I can reflect back on my notes to get the full picture of the story.

Also, I didn't read "Ender's Shadow" right after finishing "Ender's Game" over a decade ago, mainly because I knew that the parallel story was about Bean, and I could not STAND the character as I went through "Ender's Game." Also, the adults are just so cruel and manipulative to these child soldiers that I couldn't emotionally handle that a second time so soon.

Well, my husband is right, as he often is. Don't let him know I said that.

I couldn't stand Bean because he was portrayed as an uncaring, calculated, egotistical little snot who didn't believe his poop stank and couldn't believe that he wasn't the one in command.

Then I read "Ender's Shadow"....

If nothing else, this story proved two things to me:
   1) Much like with people, never judge a character too harshly; you don't know what's been going on in their life. Also, especially with a character, the narrator's view may paint the wrong picture of a character.
   2) Everyone is the hero of their own story. Bean kind of had to be the hero of his, otherwise, what's the point? However, reading what he had to conquer, and how he actually HELPED Ender, really made me rethink my view of a lot of side characters. As well as reminded me that I needed to mentally plot out my own parallel stories for all of my side characters. Make sure that if I retold the story through their eyes that they are more than simple support; they are the hero of their version of the story.

Another thing came to mind as I got further and further into "Ender's Shadow".... Jolene was basically Bean. Not in personality, age, intelligence, or gender, but in her inability to properly communicate. The reason I couldn't stand Bean before reading his story was because Ender wasn't the biggest fan at first. Ender's interpretation of the kid was what I wrote above: uncaring, calculated, egotistical little snot who didn't believe his poop stank and couldn't believe that he wasn't the one in command. Now that I'm reading Bean's side of the story, Ender's cold snarkiness does seem overly harsh, and it's derived from Ender not understanding Bean's words or motives.
"Just saw your message," said Bean.
"Fine."
"It's near lights-out."
"I'll help you find your way in the dark."
The sarcasm surprised Bean. As usual, Wiggin had completely misunderstood the purpose of Bean's comment. "I just didn't know if you knew what time it was-"
"I always know what time it is."
Bean sighed inwardly. It never failed. Whenever he had any conversation with Wiggin, it turned into some kind of pissing contest, which Bean always lost even when it was Wiggin whose deliberate misunderstanding caused the whole thing. Bean hated it. He recognized Wiggin's genius and honored him for it. Why couldn't he see anything good in Bean?

-
Ender's Shadow, Part 4: Soldier, Chapter 16: Companion, page 243; written by Orson Scott Card
That's basically Jolene's interaction with the party in a nutshell. More specifically, her interaction with Mahtab, and in part, Rensin. Much like Bean, Jolene led a life where she didn't learn the same social interactions as the rest of the party. For Bean, it's because he's basically Sheldon from "The Big Bang Theory": a brilliant mind; a genius that makes him have the mindset of a 20-something at the age of 7, but also a social disconnect because he's more logical than feeling. Numbers and logic make sense to Bean, the chaos of humanity and emotions does not. The higher one's factual intelligence, the lower one's emotional intelligence.

Jolene, on the other hand, simply learned, after being constantly hurt by keeping her heart on her sleeve, to not get emotionally attached to anyone. So, when she WAS getting emotionally attached yet again - namely to the two Northerners and a certain half-orc - she could no longer interpret her feelings, and so she lashed out. She may not have realized what she did, but the harsher she lashed out, the more she was subconsciously saying "I love you; don't leave me." It's that weird mental protective shield that "If I push them away then when they finally do leave me it's because I was a jerk, not because they truly hate the real me."

I mean, the tactic worked. They did hate her, they didn't see the real her, and Jolene is moving on with her life with yet another chip on her shoulder. Ignore that she put there herself simply because she wanted people to decode her actions, without them realizing there was something that needed interpretation. No one knew to not take her at face value, although I'm sure Corlmitz suspected.

It's not an exact parallel between the two, Bean didn't subconsciously act like a snot in some veiled attempt to protect himself from rejection. Bean simply spoke facts and kept knowledge of himself close to the vest because those two things were what kept him alive. Ender, a much more emotional person, misinterpreted those features as cold and conniving. Therefore, the reader, or at least me, thought the same way.

Now that I have that connection with Bean, Jolene's pain being spelled out in Bean's laments, the kid is WAY more sympathetic for me. It also helps that Bean is finally showing the reader more emotions, which is another great way to finally connect with the character. I'm now actually nervous for the part of the story I'm at now.

I don't want to put out any spoilers, however, if you've read the book already or never intend to, I'll go ahead and drop a spoiler box. Just click to expand it and read the spoiler, or scroll past to stay spoiler free:


Stopping to write notes on "Ender's Shadow" might also help me with my own writing. The main reason why writers are advised to read as well. As I mentioned above, starting to like Bean and understand this character has taught me valuable things that I can use with my own character and plot developments. There was also a beautifully subtle but profound transition with Bean that escaped my notice at first. Going back and finding this moment in the story gives me a new life goal: becoming a good enough author to know how to do a similar transition.
    So Wiggin did understand how his army had been selected, even if he didn't know who had done the selecting. Or maybe he knew everything, and this was all that he cared to show Bean at this time. It was hard to guess how much of what Wiggin did was calculated and how much merely intuitive. "They can't break you."
    "You'd be surprised." Wiggin breathed sharply, suddenly, as if there were a stab of pain, or he had to catch a sudden breath in the wind; Bean looked at him and realized that the impossible was happening. Far from baiting him, Ender Wiggin was actually confiding in him. Not much. But a little. Ender was letting Bean see that he was human. Bringing him into the inner circle. Making him...what? A counselor? A confidant?
...
    Bean wondered what Ender imagined the consequences would be. Merely that the legend of Ender Wiggin, perfect soldier, would be lost?... Or was this about the larger war, and losing a game here in Battle School might shake the confidence of the teachers that Ender was the commander of the future, the one who lead the fleet, if he could be made ready before the Bugger invasion arrived?
...
    "I need you to be clever, Bean," said Ender.

- Condensed passages from pg 245 of
Ender's Shadow
Do you see that transition? It's subtle, right?

From the moment Bean heard Ender's name, on page 93, until that moment on page 245, Bean was determined to distance himself as much as he could from Ender; determined to only ever refer to him by his last name of Wiggin. When he talked about Ender, when he thought about Ender, when the narration was with Bean, Ender was ALWAYS Wiggin. THAT was the character's name. But then, there, Bean thought of Ender by his full name - Ender Wiggin - and that was the switch. That was when this kid was finally just Ender, and Bean's idol. That point where Bean realized that Ender was a kid, like him, who is going through trials way harsher than any child should endure, and this kid needed a confidant. He needed something that resembled a friend. Bean realized the vulnerability Ender was showing him, and in that instant, Bean couldn't distance himself anymore.

Beautiful. Simply beautiful. I am so mad that I had missed it at first. It wasn't until about 70 pages later, when Bean had to say goodbye to Ender, did I remember that Bean used to only refer to him as Wiggin. I needed to know when that switch was, and found it in the passage above. So good.

And moments like that every writer should note and keep in a journal somewhere. It's great to have these writing goals and these examples of how to do these amazing bits of writing that say so much with so little.

Anyway, while I think I've more than proved that it is important for writers to also be avid readers, I also went on for far too long over why I was reading instead of writing. My long-winded point is that this was mainly why I nearly missed so much writing. I have become engrossed in Bean's story, and I do want to get this book done soon so I can get through "Ender's Game" before the end of the month.

I didn't completely fall off the horse, though. I may have only spent about 20minutes or so on a few days, and may have mostly just edited, but I DID work on "Peeping Tomcat" throughout this week.

I added a lot of dialogue to the first chapter to better set up Adrien's terrible day without it just being endless "telling" versus "showing". I still have a huge chunk of Exposition Monster while Chat Noir is running around Paris, setting up the world for any who may not be in the fandom, and his reflection on Marinette, and why he lingered at her window. I tried to find ways to add more dialogue and action, but there really isn't anything more I could do with that.

As it is, I think the first chapter is as polished as it's going to get without any outside advice. We'll see what my beta duo of ChibiSunnie and Cyhyr say once I get them the story: one outside the fandom and one within, respectively. I'm still at least a month out from sending them the whole thing, though. I'm still aiming to get it to them by the end of the month; mid-February at the latest. I need to pick up the pace though if I'm editing one chapter a week, and I not only have 14 total planned chapters, but I still have to write/re-write about half of them!

My goal this week is to let you fine folks know next week that I have the next two chapters re-written and edited, and that I have a fix for the Akuma-Attack chapter after. But in order to be that on top of things I should probably get this post up and work on that second chapter!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Ready For 2018 To Be A Big Year!

Well, 2017 is behind us, and 2018 is just started. Let's see how this year ends up, huh? I'm trying to aim for a much more productive one all around.

Productivity in adulting, such things as paying down my student loan, getting a better car, working on my credit, maybe getting a house or getting pregnant. Productivity in my health, such as eating healthier, working out, losing weight, seeing doctors at a more regular pace. Productivity at work with such things as maybe pitching to the owners my idea of having a Communications Director to make sure all employees are on the same page, as well as help take some weight off of the office personal.

Most importantly, productivity in my writing. Yesterday was a wash. I read, yes, but didn't even think of writing anything, not even a Facebook status. So, not the best start, but January first rarely is. Which leads us to this glorious tradition of First Blog Post Of The New Year Is The Resolutions Post!

First, let's recap how I did last year.

Resolution #1: No More Than 3 Zero Days in Any Given Week
Um..... Yeah, I was sort of hit or miss on this one. I still have my two calendars, one for marking if I wrote or not, and the other with the hourly breakdown so I can see what I do with my life. I'm going to try to get back into the habit of using those so I can crack down on this resolution.

Resolution #2: Complete the "Reading Books Like a Boss" Reading Challenge.
I got further with this one, but, as I discussed last week, I didn't finish. I'm getting further into "Ender's Shadow." I even went back yesterday and re-read the first two parts of the book I completed already in order to jot down my notes of parallel moments. That way when I re-read "Ender's Game" I can look back at my notes to get an idea of where Bean was during all of it.

Resolution #3: Constructively participate on the Writers’ Huddle Forum At Least Once A Week
This one was another negatory. I had bouts of good participation, and then months of ghosting. I was more active than I was in previous years, though....

Resolution #4: Beta Read And Return Notes Within A Fortnight
This one I managed. I didn't really have many people give me things to look over, but the few that did I returned notes on within 14 days. A lot of them I gave the notes back probably on the 14th day, but it still counts!

Resolution #5: Have 52 Blog Posts Published Before The End Of 2017
I DID IT! I COMPLETED ANOTHER RESOLUTION!
Hacker Girl Facebook Sticker
by Birdman, Inc.
I know I celebrated last week, but it's exciting to me, so I wanted another quick hurrah!

Resolution #6: Ronoxym's Writing Challenge
Yeah. I didn't even really attempt this one. At the beginning of the year when I was doing the "A Writer's Book of Days" prompts and happened to write something under 1000 words that was original and a complete story, I used those stories for the challenge. Other than those afterthoughts, though? I didn't even think about this challenge Ron put out for me a couple years ago.

So.... that's how I did. Not spectacular, but not disastrous either. Now to set up the resolutions for this year.

Resolution #1: No More Than Three (3) Zero Days In Any Given Week

    I will try this one again and again and again until I get it as routine. Yes, I did say above that I wanted to try the fifteen minutes every day routine, but if I can't even write four times a week, I'm never going to succeed in every day. So, baby steps. I will once again attempt to write at least four days a week for at least fifteen minutes a day. We'll see where I will go from there.

Resolution #2: Complete My Personal Reading Challenge

    As I stated last week, I'm not going for any actual pre-made reading challenge from anyone. I have a series of books I want to read, and I want to try to make sure I tackle those. So, here is my own personal reading challenge.
    I still have three slots that I can fill in throughout the year. The key is to try to get twelve stories read even though I'm fairly confident it's going to take me at least two months to truly absorb "Atlas Shrugged."
    Also, yes, I did include fanfiction as one of the categories. If NaNo considers 50,000 words a novel, why not use that as a basis of making a non-professionally published work just as "valid" of a read? It's still a challenge to read through something that requires that much time investment, so why not?

Resolution #3: Constructively participate on the Writers’ Huddle Forum At Least Once A Week

    I again failed at keeping up with this community, opting instead to stay closer to home with my physical friends and local writing group. However, I have been more active in the fanfiction Facebook group my college roommate got me into a few months ago, so why shouldn't I be as involved in my online writing group!? 
    I need to step it up. Let's see what I can accomplish this year! No ghosting!

Resolution #4: Complete My Four Main WIPs

    For those who don't know, WIP stands for Work In Progress.
    I want to get the following stories completed by the close of 2018:
  • "Peeping Tomcat" my main and premiere "Miraculous Ladybug" fanfiction 
  • "One and the Same" my planned sequel to "Peeping Tomcat."
  • My still unnamed X-Future story about Trish and Devon's last battle
  • My fan novelization of Varekai
    I really REALLY want to get "Peeping Tomcat" done and posted by the end of March. I'm even officially signed up now for NaNo's "What Now?" months. Once I'm done with PT, I want to get "One and the Same" posted around June. At this rate, I'd be posting something roughly once a quarter, which would have the Trish/Devon battle in September, and Varekai at the end of the year. I may use Varekai as my NaNo concept after all, just a year late....

Resolution #5: Post Some Completed Work At Least Once A Month

    Just because I'm working on four major projects doesn't mean I can't try to get some minor ones up as well, right? I mean, if I'm aiming to write at least four times a week I should be able to do some "warm up" writing on a monthly project before zeroing in on further progress with my main ones, right?
    I hope so. It will keep me from burning out on my main projects. It allows my creativity to still grow with these side projects, instead of shoving even more plot bunnies off to the corner. It keeps me relevant by having me post something more frequently than four times a year. It also gives me more things to share with you fine folks throughout the year. At the very least, this would mean twelve updates - one per month - but in theory could mean sixteen: one per month, plus the four main WIPs. We'll see.

And there you have it, my main resolutions. I'm still aiming to keep strong with my 52 weekly blog posts for the year, as well as my fortnight turn-around time for beta notes. However, I've conquered those resolutions. Sure, I must resolve to keep up with them, but I also want to focus on the ones that will allow me to grow as a writer.

My sister gifted me with a bunch of writing books this Christmas, and I still have the three from last year, so, here's to 2018 being the best writing year for me yet!
Hideki and Chii from Chobits by Clamp

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Finishing Off 2017 Right (Sorta)

Sorry for the delay, Christmas being on a Monday threw me off a bit. I forgot that I was working on a Tuesday, and I was so into the whole "spending time with family on Christmas" thing that it didn't even occur to me to pre-write something.

Still, I am determined to have this be the first year that I have 52 posts - one for every week! This will be my 52nd post of the year; this will be my year when I FINALLY manage to get that "once a week, every week" schedule down! My writing IS important, and being dedicated to this blog at the very least is my way of telling the world that.

Such a big step for me. Such a small but important victory. Especially since, unlike previous years, each of the 52 posts has been for the week it is intended for, instead of having to do "catch-up" weeks where I post twice a week to get my final count up. In fact, this is only the third post this WHOLE YEAR that I didn't publish on Tuesday. Back in March I was two days late, posting on the 9th instead of the 7th. Then I missed posting on Independence Day and updated on July 5th instead. Now today instead of yesterday. This is a BIG DEAL for me. Are you excited too?
Hacker Girl Facebook Sticker
by Birdman Inc.
Okay, so what if this is a big deal that I'm keeping up with this blog and making my few hours to write an update each week a priority? I mean, it's cool beans and all, but what does that do for you, the reader? Not really much of anything, sadly. However, now that I'm getting into a proper rhythm, and I typically recall to at least pre-write a post if I can't do so Tuesday morning, that means I can start getting a bit more serious about the CONTENT.

More importantly, I can work more on my overall writing routine so that I have something of more value for you to read each week. I failed with this year's goal to have something new each week, and I most likely won't be able to get that steady for 2018 either. Especially now that I'm taking the time to slow down and really focus on bigger projects like "Peeping Tomcat." However, I could still try to aim on having something new to post at least once a month. That could be fun and exciting.

Maybe one day I'll even be able to transition this into a more professional looking blog with updates more along the lines of what professional authors write. Even if it's a couple paragraphs long to give you an update on my narrative writing, and then get back to it, instead of dedicating three hours or so writing a blog update.

We'll see what the future holds.

As for this week? Well, the last two weeks of the year are always about as shot as the last week of November. Darn holidays. Actually, pretty much all of December is shot. Between Hubby's birthday, recovering from Thanksgiving and/or NaNo, prepping for Christmas with things such as decorating and getting gifts ready, trying to keep the house clean and inevitably failing, and prepping for my mom and sister to visit.... well, December gets a bit hectic with very little extra time to write or read. I barely have the time to watch the multitude of holiday movies I generally attempt to cram into December. I also tend to get a nasty head cold right around Christmas, and, right on schedule, I'm battling through a doozy of a head cold right now. FUN!

Long and short? I added to my reading this past week, but didn't touch my writing.
Challenge by Reading Books Like a Boss
Hubby chose "Ender's Shadow" for me to read for my "set in the future" book. Sadly, I'm not even half-way through it, so I doubt I'll finish before the end of the year, let alone re-reading a book. I also didn't check off "Ready. Set. Novel!" or "Atlas Shrugged"; two books that I'll try again next year.

I don't think I'm going to attempt an official challenge for 2018, though. I've gotten back into the want to read, which was the whole point of challenges in the first place. However, all they seem to do is make me freak out that I'm not reading the "correct" books or not reading fast enough. I also spend most of the year either figuring out how to manipulate what I want to read so it fits into the challenge, or I avoid reading that particular book altogether. Not really what I was going for.

The challenges were fun and have broadened my horizons, but I think I'm moving on from them, at least for a year.

As of right now, my game plan for 2018 is to try one more time to read "Atlas Shrugged" and get that back to my father-in-law. I also want to re-read "Lycopolis" before reading Ali Luke's second novel "Oblivion." By the time I'm done with that I should be all set to buy and read Ali's latest book "Dominion," which just came out this month! As of right now it's only an e-book, but by the time I'm ready for my read she'll probably have the paperback option.

The more I read "Ender's Shadow," and the more the book eludes to "Ender's Game," the more I want to re-read "Ender's Game" in order to be fully reminded of the events being referenced in "Ender's Shadow." Plus, now that I have more backstory for Bean, perhaps the little jerk will be a more sympathetic character when I re-read EG. I can even finish it up by re-watching the movie adaptation of "Ender's Game" and/or re-reading the graphic novelizations of the book. Then lament how "off" it is compared to the source material. Basically, January may start off with me going back to EG before taking another crack at "Atlas Shrugged."

The end of March also brings about the movie adaptation of "Ready Player One" finally, so I'll probably get a re-read of that book as well. I just don't know if I want to re-read before the movie to remind me of everything, or if I want to purposely wait until AFTER watching the movie so I don't get disappointed by how different the adaptation is. Then again, the author of the novel wrote the script basically at the same time. He sold the script pretty much at the same time as the novel! I'd like to have faith that in THIS situation the movie will be pretty faithful to the book.

See? I have such a nice reading game plan already, and I don't know if I'd be able to read any of the above novels if I tried to fit them into a reading challenge. I'd also feel so overwhelmed and behind if I tried to get in the twelve books for the challenge - as seems to be the basic structure of these things - as well as the six books listed above, especially since I KNOW I'll have to take two months or so to make it through "Atlas Shrugged" properly. And those books don't even include informative books such as "Ready. Set. Novel!" or "Writer's Book of Days" or "No Plot? No Problem!"

Since I'm avoiding official reading challenges next month, I do encourage you fine folks to throw some suggestions my way. Got a book you thought was amazing? Let me know about it in the comments. Did you publish something yourself and want me to give it a read? Sure thing! Let me know below!

Well, I've rambled for long enough about reading, I think. Normally this is where I'd try to reflect on the year and do my "year in review" post, but I don't think I even have time for that!

So, for this year, I think I'll just leave it as a simple thank you to everyone who has followed me during this journey, and everyone who stuck by me this year. For any of those who bumped me up past 200 hits per post - I now have a slew that's over 900 hits! - especially if you decided to stick around, because I know you probably came here looking for Miraculous info and found bupkis. Especially for everyone who encouraged me when I was running on fumes at the beginning of the year, and when I was about to wave the white flag in November.
Hacker Girl Facebook Sticker
by Birdman, Inc.
Also, since I celebrated all the other holidays I knew of last week, it's time to give out two last shout-outs.

To any celebrating their African heritage:
Sorry I couldn't find something more
celebratory. Sometimes Google sucks.
And to everyone; every last one of you, my beautiful, amazing readers:

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Wait, Christmas is HOW Close?

Goodness is it nice outside. Like, "I kinda want to go sit on the porch to write this post" nice. Well, it is a bit overcast and dreary, but temperature wise for December, it's nice. Actually, even though it's flurried almost daily for a week or so, which would normally TOTALLY put me in the Christmas mood, the actual temperature has been fairly mild. Probably why I still feel like I have a full month before Christmas, instead of just a handful of days.

Anyone ready for the holidays this year? Because I certainly am not.

The month kind of flew by for my writing as well. I went from writing daily to barely writing at all. It could still be NaNo Fatigue, or mild depression from my computer problems, or just generic Holiday Funk that's making me kind of apathetic this month.

Either way, the year is almost out, and I'm trying to prep myself to kick even more writing butt in 2018. I do think my writing productivity and focus increased this year, and I hope to increase both again next year. I may not have turned out quite as much this year as I did last, or even as much as I would have liked to have published. However, I think that's because I learned Quality over Quantity. I want to make sure my stories are more polished and complete. I was kind of happy with the September incarnation of "Peeping Tomcat" and could have posted as I wrote, as I used to do. But it grew, it expanded, it evolved, and it's evolving still. The story I want to tell in the mode I want to tell it isn't quite there yet, but it will be if I keep working it. Past Me wouldn't have given the story enough time. I think this decision shows my growth in a nutshell.

Speaking of evolving PT, I realized the reason why I'm stunted is because I'm writing a novella while thinking in show form. I could do what I did with "Hey, Arnold!" and just write my novel. I'll write everyone in-character and have the same basic feel and tone of the show; call it a day. Nearly every review I receive for my HA fanfictions say basically the same thing: "I feel like I just watched an unaired episode." For me, that's the highest praise for a fanfiction writer. If it feels like it could be canon - not that it's so good that the reader WANTS it to be canon, but the reader feels like the creator actually was involved - then I did my job perfectly.

I feel like I'm in that right spot for PT. I feel like I have the characters pretty spot-on, and I feel the over-arcing plot has the same tone as the show would. Still, for me it doesn't read like it's canon. It doesn't feel like it could be like an hour-long special or something. There are so many "Miraculous Ladybug" stories out there, especially since it's basically aired globally within weeks of each other. I have a LOT more competition for readers' attention. I want to make sure my story stands out somehow. Having it flow like the novelization of an unaired episode is how I want to put my stamp on the Miraculous fandom. I just can't get the rhythm down, and creating akumas is WAY harder than I gave it credit.

So, I'm trying a different tactic. This week I started sorta rewriting PT one more time. This time in Celtx. For those who don't recall or don't know, Celtx is mostly a script-writing program. One that I used back when Script Frenzy was still a thing.

I figured I could shift things around better in script form. I know that the general rule of thumb is that it takes a minute to act through a page of dialogue. It also takes nearly as long to read through the description of an action as it is to perform it, give or take. Which leads to the timing rule of roughly "one minute per page of script." This is basically how the industry figures out in the scripting process if they need to add on or cut in order to get the finished product within the desired run-time.

Anyway, using this rule, and knowing that the typical episode of Miraculous - minus the opening and end credits - is either twenty or twenty-one minutes long, I can try to get a better rhythm for my story.

True, I will never get my story to fit into the equivalent of a 20-min episode. In truth, it never should, given the in-depth problem I'm working on within it. However, as I mentioned, I could maybe get it to feel like it's an hour-long special or a multi-episode story arc. I have at least two akumas plotted to be in the story: one per "half hour" of the tale.

I know that my story should take longer than twenty-some pages per half in script form, but I know now what I'm aiming for. I want each half to feel like it's even pacing. I don't want to go overboard with the story either. If I only have two akumas but the script version of PT is over 100 pages long then I either need to cut or I should add in more akumas. This is an everyday - or nearly everyday - challenge that Ladybug and Chat Noir have to face, and I don't want that to be forgotten just because the focus is on the Will They; Won't They of their relationship. No offense to the beautiful and brilliant fanfics I've already read in this fandom that do skim over akumas - I believe it's because they really are SUPER hard to convincingly create - but, as I mentioned, I want my signature in this fandom to be how "true to form" I am. That means having the proper allotment of time dedicated to LB and CN fighting akumas.

I also realized, as to be expected with this story given how introspective the plot is, that there isn't that much actual action or dialogue. The majority of the story is "Marinette does a thing, Adrien secretly watches her do the thing, he reflects on how cute she is doing the thing and how she reminds him of Ladybug, and then Adrien freaks out about comparing Marinette to Ladybug."

That's it. That's the plot. Fun, right?


In script form I can physically see where the dialogue/action dips off. The beauty of film/TV/stage performances is that the audience typically can't get inside the head of the characters. They have to rely on communication clues. This character is huddled in the corner, arms crossed, foot resting against the wall, head turned to not look exactly at anyone, and grumbles anything he says. You don't really need me to dive into his head to let you know what he's thinking, right? Add in more info like the girl we saw him crushing on earlier chatting up another guy, and Corner Dude flinching every time he hears her giggling in her conversation. You've got a better picture, right?

Well, I need to remember that I don't need visual media for you to know what's going on inside a character's head simply from context clues. The more involved bits, like Adrien's confusion on his feelings for LB vs Mari, or even his realization of how similar Mari and LB are, can probably still be inner monologue, but his "OMG OMG OMG, do I like Marinette!?" freakouts can be shown instead of told. I'm usually really good at that, but I relied too much on inner monologue this go.

I think I was trying to sort out Adrien's feelings myself first, and so I need to reign myself back in now that I think I have it figured out.

So.... script form should help me out with remembering to Show not Tell so much. Once I have it all figured out it will be time to switch BACK into novel form, and filling it out more with descriptions. Script form, I can just add in the wryly for my own notation, and then fully express it within the prose of the novelled version.

For example:
PLAGG
      (whining)
My aching body. I can't move a muscle.
can then become
Plagg floated onto my bed and sprawled out on my pillow. "My aching body," he whined, "I can't move a muscle." I ignored the fact that he said it while dramatically resting a paw across his forehead and rocking side to side like a fainting Southern Bell.
Wrylies, or Parentheticals as they are technically called, are a bit frowned upon in professional scripts because it's a case of "tell; not show" in order to sort of "direct from the page" instead of having those wrylies implied by the surrounding content. However, as notations and cues to myself, I think they are the perfect move.

We'll see how this tactic works. In the meantime, I'm still going strong on my reading challenge. I finished off "The Ship of the Dead" yesterday, and I'm off to find a book set in the future for my next slot to check off.
Challenge by Reading Books Like a Boss
My dad used to be really into sci-fi, and since I now own most of his books, I figured it would be kind of easy to find something set in the future. Problem is, most of his sci-fi is from the '80s. In other words, they WERE set in the future, but we've passed the year the books were set in.

For example, I could skip over finally reading "2001: A Space Odyssey," and even the sequel "2010: Odyssey Two," in order to read the third in the series "2061: Odyssey Three." I'm sure it's fine to start with the third book in the series.... right?

Hubby has wanted me to read the Shadow series of the Ender's Game universe, but they focus on the character Bean, and I HATED that kid when I read "Ender's Game." Hubby assures me that his characterization is redeemed in the books focused on him because you learn his motivation and whatnot. Perhaps I'll cave and give it a try. I did end up loving "Speaker for the Dead" the most out of the Ender books thus far, and Hubby told me that one was his favorite too. I should probably trust the spouse, huh?

Alternatively, I still have all of Zebey's books from when she moved and attempted to donate them to the library. There are TONS of books based on the game series Halo. Hubby suggested I try grabbing one of those. My thing there, though, is that I never got into the fandom outside of watching Red vs. Blue, and so I don't know how lost I'd be. I also don't know what order I should read them in, or if that matters.

I'll give it today to find something to bring into work with me tomorrow to start my home stretch. I'll let you know what I picked.

In the meantime, for those of you who are just finishing up your celebrations:
For those of you who will be celebrating in a couple of days:
I apologize, I couldn't find anything nice that wished a happy Saturnalia.

And for those, like me, who will be celebrating on Monday:
I'm sorry if I missed your holiday. These are the main ones I know of. Please let me know what you celebrate in the comments below so I can include it next year.

Happy holidays, everyone! May your season be bright and joyful!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Reading Recap

Aaaand, I'm back in business. Sorta. Last Wednesday I got the new charger for my netbook, so I again have a computer! A slow, super laggy, but only online, which totally isn't helpful, computer. Still! It's a computer, and it IS only laggy online.... for the most part.... which means I can get back to writing offline. Which is really the only truly important part of having a computer.

I mean, sure, I'm still addicted to Facebook, and not being as active as I normally am because my netbook can't handle it sucks. Still, WRITING! Huzzah!

Also, reading.

Because, that's what I've ACTUALLY been doing this week. Well... a bit of both, actually. Let me slow down here... I'm getting a bit overly excited.

Let's start with my reading, since that was the majority of my week.

I know, it's been a while since I talked about reading. I've really been neglecting that. My reading momentum was killed with "Atlas Shrugged" and it didn't get revived by "I Link Therefore I Am." On top of that, I was so focused on prepping for NaNo in October, and then participating in NaNo last month. I just haven't taken the time to read. Not really.

So, since it's been a while, let's get back to that Reading Challenge check list and see how I'm doing.
Challenge by Reading Books Like a Boss
There are a couple of categories that are filled in but not checked off. That's because I haven't completed the books.

I've been kind of riding high on my own plot bunnies the second half of the year, so I haven't really needed to find my story via "Ready. Set. Novel!" therefore, I haven't completed my delve into a new Jolene story via that book. I've mentioned before that I had to abandon "Atlas Shrugged" because it was just taking too long to get through it. I'm going to give it a second go - complete with a notebook to help me keep track of things/characters - at the start of next year. Finally, "The Ship of the Dead" is what I'm reading right now.

It's a fun read, but I'll get back to that in a moment. Let's stick with the check list right now.

"Half Bad" has red font and what looks like blood dripping through water on the cover, so it could replace "RSN" if I can find a different "UK" book. I could also move "Half Bad" to "Suggested" if I wanted to replace "AS" and read a second book that took place in the UK. I still have two categories I haven't touched yet, though, so I might have to leave those incomplete books where they are.

I still can't recall what I read in 2015, so finding a book I would have given a "5-star review" to is pretty impossible for me. However, I did recently buy "Oblivion" by Ali Luke finally. Only kept me shy of two years to buy....

Anyway, my point is that I did read Lycopolis back in the fall of 2012, and so I'll want to re-read before going into Oblivion. Perhaps, if I can re-read Lycopolis this month I can use that as my "re-read" book and knock out another category. I'll just need to find a book set in the future to "complete" this challenge. Not sure if I can manage in the short time left in the year, but I can try.

Even if I don't "complete" this challenge, I have read a few things that don't fall into the categories. I started off the year by going through the "Writer's Book of Days" by Judy Reeves. I didn't do any prompts past January, but I have read the monthly chapters up to September....

I also read a 375-pg manga adaptation of Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time. Finally, ever since I got suckered into the Miraculous Ladybug fandom I have read three different fanfictions. One was short enough to read in one sitting, but the other two I had to slowly consume over the course of a week or so.

All three were found on Archive of Our Own:

"Under Lock and Key" by EdenDaphne and Maerynn
I believe the two authors co-write the story, with Maerynn taking on the majority of the physical writing, but the jewel is that EdenDaphne illustrated scenes in the story. It's a quick read with some really nice artwork throughout. It's also still going, with long pauses between updates because the two women are busy moms.
"Smoulder" by midnightstarlightwrites
This story really jumpstarted my desire to write "Peeping Tomcat" because seeing Adrien and Marinette wiggle as they realize they have a crush on each other was so much fun. I feel like the OCs and the characterization of Chat Noir were a bit off, but the overall story is still great, and my need to "fix" the characterization was the other drive for me to take my time to write PT properly instead of just dumping chapters after I'm done writing them, which is how I used to do it.
"Curiosity and Satisfaction" by imthepunchlord
I just finished this one yesterday. Such a fun story based on the "Enemy AU" genre. Meaning, a re-imagining of Miraculous Ladybug if Chat Noir were a villain working with Hawk Moth instead of a hero as Ladybug's partner. The author has dyslexia, so there's some tense/grammar/typo issues, but all-in-all it was really enjoyable and greatly paced.

While "Under Lock and Key" was less than 10,000 words long, "Curiosity and Satisfaction" was just over 54,000 words, which, according to NaNo, is a novel. On top of that, "Smoulder" was over 163,000 words long!!!! Can I count those for my reading challenge, even though none of them count towards any of those categories? "Under Lock and Key" was published online in 2017, between May and September, but it isn't completed yet so......
Hacker Girl Facebook Sticker
by Birdman Inc
Anyway, I HAVE been reading, even if I'm not going to complete the 12 categories on the Reading Books Like a Boss challenge. I still have a chance, though, since I'm over half-way done with "The Ship of the Dead" already, in less than a week of reading. I'm just devouring this book! So good! I get why Ronoxym has been so antsy to talk to ANYONE about this story. About half-way through, my heart was ripped out of my chest. So sad. So good. I need to slow down and really study Riordan's writing in order to improve my own skills. That's the main point of a writer being an avid reader as well, after all.

Speaking of, how is my writing going? I started this post all excited about my netbook revival because it meant I was writing again.

Well, as I mentioned, I have and I haven't been writing.

I haven't advanced Peeping Tomcat to make up for everything I've lost over the course of November. I've wanted to, but I also wanted to finish off "Curiosity and Satisfaction" first, and I still had to use time outside of work to catch up on cleaning.

I have been jotting down some more notes on potential akumas, and how to improve upon what I wrote thus far for PT. I've also done some more research to help with the last half of the story. On top of all that, I sat with my wheel of Camembert and Miraculous Ladybug's second season on YouTube in order to again study the characters and the episode structure.

That's been my biggest inspiration this week, because yet ANOTHER one of season two's episodes has been fan-subbed. Out of the initial 13 episodes of this season, I've now watched the first 8, and I'm loving it. I'm a bad, bad girl for watching them on YouTube instead of waiting for them to officially air in the US on Netflix. However, to be fair, should Nickelodeon have picked up the show again, it probably would have aired by now. Netflix is just waiting for the full season, as it does, and the Miraculous crew is working hard to provide the highest quality show they can, so the production is running behind. No Season 2 for Netflix until the spring....

I'm sliding off topic.

Anyway, episode 8 had a key moment that is a huge "squee" moment, much like the slow dance scene from episode 2 that I squee'd about a couple weeks ago.

In case you want to avoid spoilers, I contained what I wanted to say in the below spoiler box. If you don't care about spoilers, and/or want more detail about the plot bunny I've been working on this week, go ahead to click on the button to expand it.



For those who didn't expand the spoiler box, the long-and-short of what I've been working on is a small Tikki and Plagg centric story, and their potential to bring Adrien and Marinette closer together.

I'm definitely still feeling the writing bug pretty hard, which is surprising to me after the devastation I suffered in November. I also normally suffer writer's fatigue after the effort put into NaNo, but I'm not feeling that this go. Then again, my computer crash has forced me to "relax" for about two weeks, so I guess that's my fatigue recovery?

Maybe I'll have some advancement in my writing to talk about next week. Or maybe I'll be able to check off "Ship of the Dead" and be able to start yet another book... Guess we'll see next week!
Hacker Girl Facebook Sticker
by Birdman Inc

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

I Did It... Sorta

I did it! I won NaNo! Granted, I don't FEEL like I won, but, hey, why not get the credit for my effort? Right?

I tried. I really did. I was on vacation last week so I could visit my mom and her family for Thanksgiving, and then spend the rest of the week with Hubby to celebrate his birthday. Which reminds me.
Belated birthday at this point, but I still wanted
to gush over how wonderful he is. <3
Anyway, I was on vacation. I could write more-or-less all I wanted. As I mentioned last week, I stole away a little to punch some words out last Saturday and Sunday while visiting my family. Even cranked some more out on Monday. But, for me, Tuesday was going to be the big day. I wrote my blog and I was going to hide away the rest of the day - since I didn't need to do the normal "errand day" things like laundry and grocery shopping - and just write. Hubby had eight other days alone with me, we could sacrifice Tuesday.

It started off well enough. I had my blog done, and Hubby made the meals that day as I worked so I didn't need to stop for long. I didn't think I was going to make up the last 20,000 words, but I thought I could put a good dent in them. Maybe close to half if I put in as much effort and time as I did for my Varekai recap.

Then it was about 5pm and time to go to writing group for three hours of writing sprints; we added an extra hour each week for NaNo.

First, Hubby helped me lug two garbage bags and one wine box full of books to the library for donation.... only to find out that they don't accept donations outside of August.

So I left my lunch-boxed dinner and laptop with the librarian as Hubby and I lugged the books back home for storage. I then made it back to the library about 10min later and headed up to writing group.

That's when it all went downhill.

I had the NaNo site up to periodically update the word count whenever I saved the file. I had my file open to just jump right back into it when I got settled, and I may have had a music player open or something since I write best when listening to music.

I settled in, plugged in my earbuds, and waited for my computer to acknowledge that I was typing. The lag was killing me. It wasn't registering at all. I then tried to close down the music player and NaNo site so I JUST had the word document up. I thought that maybe since my laptop wasn't properly connecting to the library wifi - which always lags my computer anyway - that it was slowing my whole system down.

After waiting a few minutes for my computer to "catch up" nothing happened. The programs were still open and weren't closing. I then tried good old CTRL+ALT+DELETE to try to bring up the program manager application so I could shut down the programs that way. After four attempts to bring up Program Manager, waiting about 3 minutes between each try, and the darn thing STILL wouldn't open up, I gave up and angrily closed my laptop. I felt guilty about making such a loud slamming sound with my fellow writers trying to concentrate, but no one seemed to skip a beat.

I then huffed over to the center of the room to grab a pencil and started writing in my red notebook dedicated to "Miraculous Ladybug" fanfiction. I jotted down some notes I had on a potential Akuma Villain, as well as notes on what I know I want to improve upon when I go back to revise the NaNo version of Peeping Tomcat.

The first twenty minute sprint was up and I hadn't added a single word. I had the vague startings of a new villain, and some notes on how to improve the first chapter of PT.

Everyone else chatted during the down time, but I again fought with my computer, hoping being in sleep mode for about ten minutes would be enough to kill the lag. It wasn't. I also didn't have a full twenty minutes before everyone ran out of things to talk about and we went back to writing. I continued to fight with my computer, which all but froze at this point, for another five or ten minutes before again giving up and snapping it closed; a bit softer, this time to not irritate everyone.

I scribbled down a few more ideas to kill the second twenty minute sprint. More people talked about their projects, and we welcomed a new member during our down time, and I again tried not to be too disconnected and distracted by my fussing with my laptop.

Once more we went back to writing before the twenty minute down time was up, which meant that within an hour, instead of three sprints and three down-times, we were looking at four twenty minute sprints with barely ten minutes in between.

I COULD HAVE GOTTEN SO MUCH WRITING DONE!

One of the women in the group likes to tell us how much she wrote in the twenty minute sprints, and each time she averaged about 150 words or so. I don't know if she mentally slows down to collect her thoughts before writing, or if I'm a faster typist, but I average about 500 words per sprint, so each time she called out how many she wrote I could only think of how many I COULD have written. I feel a bit guilty about that, but it is what it is.

After being at writing group for about ninety minutes and not getting ANYTHING accomplished because my laptop STILL wouldn't work, I gave up. At this point I had hard-pressed my laptop to turn it off before rebooting it. Only for it to give me some sort of "Auto Repair" program alert and then freeze during the initiation of it. My computer screen would just go blank with the mouse arrow just kind of.... there. The arrow followed my mouse movements, so that was fine, but the rest of the screen was just black. Four attempts to reboot my computer, and I got the same result each time.

Which means everything I wrote on Tuesday was gone! Over 1000 words gone.... AGAIN!

My thumbdrive wasn't staying in the USB port well enough to perpetually keep it in so I could save to both the laptop and thumbdrive each time I saved. So I had gotten into the habit of save CONSTANTLY while on the laptop, but only save to the thumbdrive at the end of the day and/or when I completed a chapter. I would then update my Google Docs file at the end of the night as well - since that's even more tedious to keep updating each time I save on my laptop - and at the end of the week I would save to a second thumbdrive.

After losing the whole novel once before, this was my new routine. I never expected my laptop - which I've only had for about 18months - was going to just DIE on me out of nowhere!

So everything I had done on Tuesday was just gone. GONE! YET AGAIN! I still had the nearly-30,000 words I wrote by the end of Monday, but nothing else. All that catching up I did, and all the catching up I could have done during writing group, was killed.

I tried to be as calm and discrete as possible as I quietly packed up my laptop and notebook, and returned the pencil to the center of the room. I was apparently very noticeable anyway, though. I had to stop my voice from shaking out of pure frustration as I told the group what was going on, how I was about to drop-kick my laptop out of the window, and that I just needed to go home before I punched a wall. They all understood my frustration, and wished me luck as I left.

My intention was to just steal Hubby's laptop to finish my story from where I left off on Monday.

Then HIS computer started acting up. Apparently HP and/or Windows 10 is all sorts of done with letting people use Chrome, because any time he tried to bring up the internet via Chrome, our preferred server, it would lag or randomly freeze the computer.

We have yet to see if the computer will behave itself if we cave and just used Window Edge....

So, my attempt to continue writing via Hubby's computer was also a bust. I couldn't even get online to post my story, Varekai recap, and November blog posts to the NaNo site to verify the word count.

I had to run to the library computers for that, but the library only allows 1hr stints at the computers, so I couldn't really use them for all the writing catch-up I needed to do.

I did manage to verify the word count of the story, and my recap, and all of the blog posts, in order to surpass the 50,000 words. yay.....
I feel a little cheap about how I ended up "winning," but, as I mentioned last week, I feel like persevering and still trying to finish the month even with all the technical difficulties I've had is a valid "win." For the rest of my life I think I'll look at that Winner badge with a bit of bittersweetness, but I think I'd be more upset with myself if I DIDN'T get that win for this year....

Anyway, I spent the rest of the week trying to check in on things online periodically via our smartphone - which has Hubby logged into FB, so it's not the best for me to use for that - and my 3DS; once I found it.

Not the best resources to do much with, and I can't really bring up videos, ad-intense websites, or anything like that. But it was enough to not be completely off the grid this past week.

While we did have some fun times celebrating Hubby's birthday this week, it was definitely one of those vacations you need a vacation from by the time you're done. If I was at work I could at least feel better at not being able to write or do much online.
Knives from the Scott Pilgrim comic books
by Bryan Lee O'Malley
But, hey, at least I got this glorious alert on the NaNo website:
Once I figure out what I'm doing, computer wise, I'll definitely have to check out the link for the "Now What?" months. I did tell people that I wanted to get at least the first chapter of the polished Peeping Tomcat story up by end of March/beginning of April. So I'm hoping I can find something I can use for more than an hour at a time so I can work on that.

I'm also hoping that the second season of Miraculous Ladybug premieres on Netflix soon. I've already watched the first half of the season thanks to YouTube and fan-subs, but I can't wait to binge the whole thing. It might help me get excited about this doomed project again, as well as better get a feel for how I should write it.

In the meantime, I'm waiting for FedEx to deliver a replacement power cable for my netbook so I can use that again. Then maybe I'll be able to take a step back and figure out what to do next for my main laptop.

As of right now, it seems that the hard drive may have gotten screwed up somehow between me writing at home on Tuesday and starting it up again in the writing group. Now I have to figure out if I just survive with my netbook until Tax Refund season again, travel back to Best Buy during the Holiday Season in order to try to get 18month financing for a good computer, just drop a little over $300 on another simple "netbook-sized" laptop, or try buying a replacement hard drive and seeing if that works.....

Joy......

The other thing to think about is if I should bother going to writing group tonight. The next one will be December 19th. Which means if I don't go tonight I will have walked out last week, and then gone two weeks without going to a meeting.

At the same time, though, I don't have anything to read..... but I could still hear what others have written and comment.... Gah, I don't know.

I'm running out of time at the library, though, so I guess I'll spend the next six hours or so debating what to do next. At least I still have my notebooks and pencils, right?