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.


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.....


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?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Home Stretch Already?

We're in the home stretch of NaNo, and boy am I doing pathetic. It is well known that week two is "hell week" for anyone doing NaNo. Week one you still have the excitement pushing you, and most have at least mentally planned out enough to get them through week one. The opening, introducing the characters and environment, and the inciting incident are all fun to write. Authors can just pile on more and more problems.

Then there's week two. This is usually when people start realizing they didn't plan enough for a full 50,000 word novel. They've written past what they had planned, or they only have the ending figured out and aren't sure how to get there. The characters are going to have to solve the problems the author threw at them, and said author isn't really sure how to do that. The isolation needed to stay on-task with writing, coupled with the long hours, starts to get stressful. The daily number counts become harder to reach, and it seems daunting. Authors tend to feel burnt out as they try to figure out that dreaded middle of their story.

Then you have me. I almost always have more than enough planned for a 50,000 word novel, and I tend to have the middle at least vaguely plotted. I might feel a bit of stress about writing instead of socializing or cleaning, but it's not as overwhelming as it seems to be for others. Yes, my writing does slow down during Week Two, just like everyone else, but for me it's not the worst week.

Thanksgiving week. That's the worst. Not because I have to clean and plan to host and cook and all the other regular stressors. It's because I have to plan to pack up for my trip back to my mom's side of the family's large "clan Thanksgiving." I can't squirrel away for the better part of three days. I have a day where I'm driving, and then socializing with my family. Then I have the full Thanksgiving celebration. Then I have the third day of last-minute socializing with the family before another long drive home. As much as I try to sneak away, I never seem to get much accomplished over this weekend. Worse is that I'm usually super far behind at this point and just want to do nothing but write in order to catch up; which never happens.

So, while I feel the pain of Week Two like everyone else, it's really Thanksgiving week that really kills me during NaNo, and this year is no different. I mean, I did bring my laptop with me to the Thanksgiving celebration, with intentions of sneaking away for at least a few minutes in order to write. Of course, it figures that as soon as I discovered my husband has snuck off to play pool, and I followed so I could write in that room, that is when my mother called for me about a half-dozen times to check in on things.
Knives from the Scott Pilgrim comic books
by Bryan Lee O'Malley
Find Hubby. Grab laptop, plug it in, settle on the floor in a spot out of the way enough for Hubby and my sister's boyfriend to keep playing pool without trampling me. Bring up the word file. Read a paragraph or two to figure out where I left off. Mom calls for me. Awkwardly climb up and tuck my computer away so it doesn't get stepped on. Answer my mother's question. Go back to my corner. Write about a sentence. Mom calls again. Awkwardly get up and re-tuck my laptop. Answer my mother again. Go back to the corner. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Then I had my younger cousins sort of swarm me to try to figure out what I was doing, so I tried to explain NaNo to them. They aren't writers, so they not only weren't interested, but they didn't seem all that impressed either. Well, one did mutter "I'd never be able to write that much." So even when I try to sneak away to write I only manage about 100 words or so. Thankfully, I had a good head start that morning before we had to get ready to leave.

This past week I did have a couple of days where I surpassed 1000 words, but most of the week only had a couple hundred words added per day.
Calendar designed by Dave Seah
The other thing is that most of the document I'm working on is actually a detailed outline of where I want to go with the story, as well as sections from my original go at Peeping Tomcat, with intentions of possibly salvaging some of it for this NaNo go at the story. When I write a new section I then delete the bullet point in the outline, as well as the original narrative I reworked. So, as I'm adding words to my story I'm also losing them. So, net-gain, I'm not even at 30,000 words yet. I need to almost double my word count in the next three days; today included!

People have been strongly encouraging me to use the 12,000+ words I wrote a couple Fridays back on my reaction to Varekai. If I also include the blogs I've written this month, as of this sentence, I'm up to 8146 words from my blog.

8146 blog words, 12419 about Varekai, and 29404 for the actual story. I'm now up to 49969. By the conclusion of this blog post I will surpass 50,000 words if you count everything I've typed, well, excluding stuff for work and Facebook statuses. If I include the two notes I wrote for Facebook this month I would have hit 50,000 a couple of days ago!

It's easy for me to hit that word count in one month. It's an entirely different thing to have it all be narrative, and for one project. That's the struggle now.

Still, I personally think that I proved myself to have persevered enough to earn that Winner's shirt, and many have agreed with me.
Cape not included.
I still feel a bit guilty about potentially earning the "won" status for the Peeping Tomcat story itself though, since the story itself won't be 50,000 words, and there will always be that mental asterisk to my win. However, we'll see how I feel about that guilt when it's 11:58pm on November 30th....

My outline for Peeping Tomcat has 14 chapters once completed. I'm currently working on the 7th chapter. The 9th chapter will be when Adrien discovers Marinette is Ladybug, so I have that to work towards. The trick though is that the 8th chapter is another Akuma attack. I tried to spend the long drive home yesterday thinking about what I wanted to do for that since I still don't have any figured out.

The new season of Miraculous does give more potential for Akumatized villains, but it still doesn't really help me figure out what I want to do. I'm leaning towards an Akuma that is after Marinette, causing Adrien to get jealous, but it just doesn't work into the story thus far. I may have to take it into consideration when PT goes through a third complete rewrite.

If any of you have watched Miraculous Ladybug and wants to shoot me some suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

In the meantime, I think I'm going to spend this week-long vacation doing little more than writing.....

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Does Any Of This Count?

It's the beginning of week three of NaNo, or is it the close of week three and we have five weeks this year? It's hard to really tell due to November starting on a Wednesday this year. On the one hand, "week one" could be November 1 - 7, which would mean week one finished when I posted my first November update this year. In which case, today is the close of week three. On the flipside, "week one" would start on the first Sunday, which meant it was November 5 - 11, kind of ignoring the first four days as.... week zero? Using that thought process, this is still only a few days into week three.

Eh, whichever week it is, between last Tuesday and this one has been kind of rough. As you might remember, last week I discovered that my story's file was corrupted, and a similar fate happened to my backup on my laptop. Over 16000 words were just gone after two weeks of work! It was devastating.

Well, thanks to the computer genius of my writing mentor Ali Luke, I didn't lose it all! She wasn't able to salvage the majority of it, so I still lost a huge chunk. However, she did manage to get me the first seven pages! I have almost the entire first chapter back, thanks to her. She saved me something like 4700 words. So, major, super, immense thank you to Ali!
Hacker Girl Facebook sticker
by Birdman Inc
I spent an entire day trying to catch up - on top of the first chapter that Ali salvaged - and got about 2800 words in by the close of day. It was mostly because my boss at work is awesome, knew what NaNo means to me, and kind of turned a blind eye when I did a bunch of writing during our slow time. I also had another sprinting write-in with my writing group, so I was able to get a nice chunk done then too. However, my netbook was starting to lag pretty hard-core, so I didn't get as much done as I normally would have.

However, the amount of concern everyone showed me was amazing. The empathy, the cheers to keep going, the endless advice on how I might be able to restore my works, everything was beautiful. I thank you all as well!

As my one friend Skippy pointed out, mine was the only status he has seen where there were over 10 reactions and EVERY SINGLE ONE was the same reaction: sad face. The fact that everyone hurt right along side me, and everyone cheered me on when I bounced back, is just so wonderful. I have the best support group!
Hacker Girl Facebook sticker
by Birdman Inc
If you are an artist of any sort, and you don't have a support group like this, go out and look for one. You NEED a group like I have. I'll be the first safety net if you need, but you NEED this kind of support. You need people who "get" what your art means to you. Go. Find them. They're out there.

Even with my great support group, Ali perking me up with her miracle work, and getting some writing sprints in, I just couldn't get as excited about my story as I once was. I couldn't get the momentum I had at the start of the month. A bit of my spirit did break, and it's taking a bit for me to heal it.

That being said, I did write for a near-solid eleven hours straight on Friday! Over 12,000 words! Aaaaaand none of them were for my NaNo story....

Instead, I used those eleven hours between waking up and going to play D&D with my buddy Zebey and her roommate - they were the newbies on X-Future last year - writing down everything I could remember about my Varekai trip.

For those that might not remember, I have a whole series of notebooks, all color-coordinated so that I have one notebook for each story I'm working on. It's easier for me to organize my plot bunnies when they are in their own pens. Anyway, this is the one I had set up for Varekai. The orange is unique to me because there aren't that many other stories that have an orange theme to them. For me though, thanks to my time with a production company named Icarus Communications, I equate the story of Icarus with the colors blue, orange, and white. Mostly, orange is in relation to the sun. I also liked that it looks like golden lightning bolts are going through the cover of the notebook. It has an almost Greek God Smiting feel to it. It may not relate to Varekai at all - which is more yellows, whites, and greens - it does scream out "Icarus" to me, so it's good enough.
I remembered to bring my Varekai notebook with me when I FINALLY saw the show live this past Thursday! It was such a fun and exciting experience, especially when I found out that the tour had JUST returned to the United States after years touring over seas! The very first stop once they returned to the US was actually right outside my hometown, which is super cool, and then the next stop on the tour was up by me, so I could see it! It was like fate. After waiting fifteen years, I FINALLY was able to watch it live, and it was just so kismet that they had JUST returned to the US.

I'm rambling. Sorry, like I said, it was exciting to me, and just as exciting for who came with. She had been dying to watch a Cirque show as well, so she was my date on Thursday. It was so much fun to squeal over everything with her.

Well, between the squealing, I tried to take notes on the show. Mostly things that were different between the live performance and the DVD I own. The still-relevant differences, I mean, so I didn't really mention much about the replacement acts. It would be easier for me later on when I fan-novelize this show for me to reference back to the DVD. Therefore I'm ignoring the replacement acts and how they might affect the overall story.
The problem, though, is that once the audience sections of the arena got dark it was hard to see where I was writing in my notebook. Even harder when I didn't want to stop watching the performance, but wanted to jot down my thoughts before I lost them. It got to the point where my hand lost track of where I was on the paper. Which made my already bad handwriting even worse!

Talk about writing over myself.
As I was writing at the performance I knew that I wasn't writing within the lines. I even commented a few times that it will be near impossible for me to go back and read my notes. However, in hopes that I could decipher SOMETHING, I kept writing.
I got even worse with my interpretation of the lines and where my hand was on the paper in relation to what I had just written. I mean, seriously?
I have like three different lines running over each other in that jumbled mess!
Thankfully, with a great deal of time and effort, I was able to interpret and re-write. I transferred all of my notes onto a separate piece of paper that I now keep tucked inside the notebook.
Granted, my normal handwriting isn't much better, but I can at least read it and know what my notes are trying to say. This is why I like laptops. I can just lay my fingers on the keyboard home keys and write all I want without ever looking down. Even with some typos, it's still easy enough to figure out what I was trying to say. I don't think whipping out my netbook to type would be all that great of an experience though, especially with such tight seating. Oh well, the notebook worked, and I was able to salvage the notes. That's all that matters.

However, since I wanted to keep it so the notes I was making were solely for my story, I kept them separate from my overall thoughts of the performance. I didn't jot anything down in reference to the performance as itself in that orange notebook. I didn't want to forget it, though. So I did a bulleted list of each act that was performed in the two-and-half-hour show, and then wrote in as much detail as possible my thoughts on the acts, how they differed from the ones on the DVD, and what the overall feel was.

I meant for it to be a two-hour long project. Tops. But the more I wrote about the show the more I remembered and the more I wanted to write down before my faulty memory forgot it forever. For each act I also had to watch the DVD version so I could compare what I remembered from Thursday to the recorded performance.

I haven't even gone back to write in other experiences of the night, such as the trips there and back, driving around Syracuse while waiting for the show to start, or buying the merchandise just before the show. I want to jot it all down so I will forever have this evening in as much vivid detail as I possibly can capture.

Just the show itself is over 12,400 words and 18 pages long! So! Much! Writing!

And none of it counts!

Most on Facebook are telling me to add it to my overall count. However, I want so badly to stick with my "Old School Wrimo" goal, in other words, someone who writes 50,000 words of a brand new novel between November 1st and November 30th.

If I jump ship and include the 12,000 words I wrote in glorified diary-entry form, or even if I use the four blog posts I'll have in November, I'd be more of a "NaNo Rebel" - just counting every word written, regardless of project.

Eh, I might just cave and do so in order to "win" this year. I feel like I deserve to consider this year a win after the setback I had. Even if that win has a mental asterisks after it. Besides, then I might be able to get a new NaNo Badge.

For those unfamiliar, in order to add some fun to the NaNo challenge, the organization has a series of badges you can earn. A lot of them will automatically be added to your account once you've achieved them: things like signing up for that year's NaNo, hitting 5000 words, or donating to the organization that runs the program. Other badges you award yourself once you feel you've achieved them.

No matter what, there will always be three badges that you cannot get, simply because it's a sort of "either/or" situation with some other ones.

Out of a set of three badges - declaring yourself a "planner" or a "pantser" or a "plantser" - you can only be one of the above, and therefore there are two badges you can never earn that year.

Out of another set of two badges - "Old School Wrimo" or "NaNo Rebel" - you can either be one or the other. You can either aim to stay true to the traditional NaNo challenge, or you can rebel against it and just enjoy your own writing goals you set up for November. I had declared myself Old School, but with this setback I might now be a Rebel.

Did I find the loophole where I get both badges?

Also, speaking of the badges, I feel like they added more this year, and some of them are fantastic!
My personal favorites are the "Secret Noveling" and "Procrastination" badges. Although, I find it silly that they even created a procrastination badge. It's like they're encouraging it, hehe. Best part is once you give yourself a badge the description changes slightly in your public "badges earned" section of your profile.
Boy did I ever earn that badge this week, though. The trick is to not only procrastinate, but to do so "in new and exciting ways." I'd say spending 11 hours writing anything BUT my novel would count, but in case it didn't I found another fun way to procrastinate.

I knew that people create cover pictures for their fanfiction and amateur online-published stories, such as on DeviantArt or FictionPress. I've even done some simple ones myself for many of my chaptered stories:
Nothing all that exciting. It has the basic feel and the title. Simple.

After joining the Facebook fanfiction group though, I've seen some really enticing cover art.
Ignore that these are all for smutty Harry Potter fanfiction. These authors tend
to give - excuse the pun, but - the most love to their works.
While it's probably easier for a live-action such as Harry Potter because the artist can then steal images from the real world or other movies in order to manipulate them into the look they want, I still like the amount of effort put into these covers.

I felt I needed something like that for Peeping Tomcat. So I spent pretty much a whole day trying to design one. I scanned through nearly every episode of Miraculous Ladybug in order to try to do the same thing as the above covers: find footage I could manipulate so it would look like Cat Noir was watching Marinette from outside her window. I tried about three different ways of doing that, and I wasn't thrilled with any of them. I then tried grabbing a close-up of Cat's face with the expression I wanted, and tried to edit the panels of Marinette's window pane over it so it looked like he was looking in. Again, no dice. I then liked the idea of just focusing in on his mask, so I went frame-by-frame through about six different episodes where I knew I'd have that close-up shot.

Once I found the one I liked, I took off the Disney watermarks, which is not fun to do when you don't have access to Photoshop, and did some more doctoring along with picking out font and the like. Eventually I came up with two pictures. One for places like DeviantArt where a horizontal image is best suited, and one for places like FanFiction where a vertical picture - to make it look more like a book cover - is required.

Any thoughts? I feel like the vertical one looks like an 80's mystery/sci-fi cover. Not the feel I'm going for, but I wasn't sure what else to do:
Either way, the cover is done, and I'm out of reasons to stall. I spent some time last night going through YouTube videos showcasing the "evidence" in the show that Adrien likes Marinette, as well as a video showing 101 reasons to love the Adrien and Marinette pairing. It really did re-inspire me to see all those adorable puppy-love moments. I attempted to write too late at night, though, and didn't get much done.

Seems to have been my M-O. So I haven't really officially added much. Although, you might see with my NaNo counter along the upper right corner of this page, I'm past the half-way point at least.

Kinda sorta....

After losing my novel I had to re-center myself, as you'd expect. Part of that was to transfer my outline to my main novel file. I started with the opening that Ali saved, and then I wrote notes at the end on how I had originally closed the chapter, in order to make sure I didn't forget. I then wrote out a bulleted list of what happened in the second chapter, as well as the third chapter. Again, this was so I could remember what I did while it was still relatively new. That way I had a better chance of re-creating it. I then took the rest of my outline - via those note cards I showed you guys a few weeks back - and typed them all up in the main file so I could quickly read over what I wanted to do and fill in the gaps. It was also easier for me to write non-linearly that way. If I'm stuck continuing where I left off, I could read through the outline until I got to a place that struck my fancy that day.

A smart move, and only mildly cheating. A lot of people stated that they'd consider it me trying to beef up to make up for the 11000-some words I permanently lost. I then cheated a bit further for the same reason. I went back to the original Peeping Tomcat that I wrote in September. The one that I used a chunk from to tease this NaNo version. I scooped up the paragraphs - or pages - that I had written in that version that were the inspiration for the corresponding chapter for NaNo. I then dumped the pre-written bits. I know I'm going to rework and rewrite, and if I'm going "NaNo Rebel" anyway, might as well go full-throttle, right?

So, yes, I do have 25,969 words according to the NaNo site, but if you add up the words I've actually written via my calendar, I'm only at about 21,500. Eh, worse comes to worse I'll just dump that Varekai writing into the mix. If one of my fellow writing group members could fluff up her story by typing up full Shakespearean plays at the end, I can dump stuff that I've personally written. Right?

Well, I'm running late on everything else I have to do today, so I'll catch everyone next week. Happy NaNo-ing to any who are taking this journey with me. For all Americans, happy Thanksgiving this Thursday.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Can I Have This In Triplicate?

Always save your work frequently. And always save it in multiple spots.

It's the 14th day of NaNo, and I'm not as far as I would like to be nor even as I should be, but I still had over 16,000 words written for “Peeping Tomcat.”

Then when I tried to work on it some more during lunch yesterday.....
Yes, I did tell it to repair. It just brings up a blank, single word
doc page with the word "repaired" in the file name. >_>
Yup. My old NaNo USB bracelet has failed me.

The actual USB portion was coming loose of the sleeve it sits in. Hubby, either at the end of last year or beginning of this one, was playing with my bracelet and accidentally pulled the USB completely out of the protective sleeve. The drive seemed to still be working well enough so, aside from being mildly upset, I just shrugged it off.

Problem is, now I can accidentally pull the bracelet portion away from my computer but leave the USB behind. Which means I have to pull it out with a very careful and precise grip in order to keep everything together. It also is super easy – specifically on my laptop; I haven't noticed this problem with my netbook or any other computer I've used the bracelet with – for me to barely bump the bracelet and the drive will disconnect from the port. I don't know if this is a port problem, or a result of the now faulty nature of the bracelet.

Well, it seems that it FINALLY bit me in the butt yesterday – or Sunday night when I disconnected the USB from my laptop, I'm not sure which. Somehow, in the process of saving endlessly over the weekend, and also accidentally disconnecting my drive and re-installing it while the file was still up, I managed to cross some wires.

I was intelligent enough to save on my laptop as well, once upon a time. It would mean I only had about 9000 words instead of 16,000, but it would be better than nothing. Except that file's gone too. I don't know what happened. It's just gone. 16,425 words are just gone. Lost to the ether. GONE! I wrote 11 out of the first 12 days of November. I even fought passing out on my laptop to force myself to write SOMETHING over the weekend. I only managed about 700 words combined between Saturday and Sunday, but it was SOMETHING. I still added to my overall word count. I wasn't giving up. But now nothing. All that time wasted. Lost.
Tanuki Facebook Sticker
by Yanare Ku
Obviously I'm devastated. I'm beside myself. I spent over an hour trying to find a way to recover the file, but nothing. I just get that single blank page with "repaired" in the file name. It's like the first half of the month didn't exist. Didn't happen. Like I didn't squirrel myself away or force myself to write or neglected cleaning my house so I could keep up with my word counts.

I'm tripping over stuff due to how terribly unorganized my house is right now, and it's because I've been neglecting anything outside of writing.... for nothing. NOTHING!
Tanuki Facebook Sticker
by Yanare Ku
Okay, so it's not for NOTHING. It was practice. Painful that I have no true fruits of it, but it was still practice. I struggled really hard the first half of the month, but I now know where I was going with it. I have things charted out. I worked through it. Also.... I learned this lesson.

Sure, it's easy enough to rewrite everything. If it were a normal novel situation I would be pissed, I would cry in the corner, I would mourn losing a fortnight's worth of work, but I would pull myself up by the bootstraps and rewrite what I wrote. It's still fresh enough in my memory that I could redo it. In fact, the few times something like this has happened in the past, I did exactly that: weep, throw things out of frustration, mourn the loss of all that work, and re-write. Want to know something? It came out better!

I only remembered the parts that I liked. I knew what parts I hated and went into the writing already concocting a better plan of attack. It was annoying, and I would never do so intentionally, but losing that work actually improved it.

And yeah, it still holds true now. As I mentioned, I figured out what was working and what wasn't. Do I hate that I don't have what was working and I have to pray I get it just as right this time? Yeah. Can I now go at it with a plan of how to improve what wasn't working? Sure. Did I already come up with ways to fix the "not working" parts and have been resisting the editing portion so I could get my work count first? Of course! So, this, under normal circumstances, would be bittersweet, but overall a "good" thing. Sorta. I'd be more capable to see the silver lining.

But this is friggen NaNo! I only have 16 more days to get to 50,000 words, and starting completely from scratch is devastating. Especially because, as mentioned, the 16,425 words I already had are now little more than a waste of time. Sure, I can personally still count them, but when I go to verify at the end of the month the site isn't going to know to add those lost words back in.

So, now even if I do write 50,000+ words this month, even if I can catch up completely from this half-way point of the month, I still won't get all those fun "winner" benefits and recognition. Not unless I do one of two things: 1) write 66,000 words in the next 16 days so I still have 50,000 to verify, or 2) "cheat" and just copy and paste 16,000 words so the site acknowledges the count. I kind of hate both ideas.... but you need to do what you need to do. Eh, maybe I'll just copy and paste 16,000 words worth of this blog so I don't feel so bad. It isn't included in my original count, but they are still new words I wrote this month.
Knives from the Scott Pilgrim comic books
by Bryan Lee O'Malley
ALWAYS save in more than one location, and do so frequently. I should have learned my lesson after losing this darn USB bracelet last November. Boy was THAT a heart attack! I should have also learned my lesson when my former college roommate thought she lost HER novel and nearly died. It's just... it got too tedious for me to save to the laptop and then Save As to the USB and then Save As again up on Google Docs and then Save As one last time on my netbook so that I could make sure I have a copy everywhere.

Third time's the charm, right? Maybe NOW I'll truly learn my lesson. Tediousness needs to be tolerated in order to ensure I don't keep losing my darn NaNo projects each year! Gaaaaah!

For those concerned, I did eventually write about 950 words last night. I just continued where I left off. I'll attach the opening 3 chapters after everything else is done. Otherwise I don't know if I'll ever complete the actual story. I HAVE to press on, even with such a set-back! I won't give up! I can't. I also have it saved in four places this time....

On the upside, while it will be a pain to go through it again, prior to losing everything, I managed to complete my third chapter; struggling through it the whole time. I also came up with my Akuma Villain, at least the first one they go up against.

Even for the level of cheesiness that is standard for "Miraculous Ladybug," who I came up with is pretty bad, but she's the best I've got so far, so I'm going to have to run with her. Maybe I'll either think of how to improve her or figure out a replacement for her by the time I get to the fourth chapter again.

In the meantime, meet Louise Fabron, AKA: Ms. Popular.
She started off as inspired by Poison Ivy, hence the red hair and green bodysuit. Her outfit doesn't look even remotely close to any other Akumatized villains, but I'm running with it. Until there's a Miraculous Villains dollmaker for me to tinker with, this is the best I have for creating a visual.

She has a Medusa-like gaze power that petrifies women and enchants men. The female victims become "mall mannequins." In truth, I'm not really sure what this has to do with popularity. Fashion statements? I dunno, it matched the Medusa-eye-power concept, so I ran with it. As for the men, the male victims become protective and bodyguards for the villain. I started off thinking she'd blow them a kiss to entrance them, and I may go back to that, but it seemed too close to the canonical villain Princess Fragrance, and I wasn't sure how to work in the possessed item.

In the bit I wrote over the weekend, Ms. Popular can also use her optic powers to get women to fight amongst themselves. I honestly have no clue how her powers work or how any of it relates to either popularity in general, or making her more popular. I need to really workshop her....

Anyway, her Akuma-possessed item are the glasses used to block her gaze until she wants to attack. The glasses are actually replicas of Chloe's. The villain became Akumatized when she tried to win Chloe's favor by dressing EXACTLY like her, only for Chloe to call her a creepy stalker and tell her she's never going to be popular.

Always watch out for girls named Louise. Between Louise from Familiar of Zero and Louise from Bob's Burgers, people should maybe be wary around a Louise. If those two weren't enough, eh, I added a third one.

Louise is actually a year younger than Chloe. So, based on the English translation, she would be in 9th grade: a high school freshman, at least in the US. In season 1 of ML the character Alix turned 15, but in a season 2 episode Marinette turns 14. We weren't given Adrien's age during his birthday episode, which happened to be the first ever episode of the series. So I'm not entirely sure where to put Louise's age, but I'll say 13. Which means obviously she's not going to look as mature as the Doll Divine mock-up I did, but I don't see why Hawkmoth's Akuma couldn't "age" her a little at least.

Like I said, I'm still kind of workshopping her as I'm writing. Speaking of, I should probably get back to that, I have quite a bit of ground to try to cover.... again.....

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

*Fangirl Squee*

The first week of NaNo is over. How did you fair, if you had joined in, that is? I've been doing fairly well, and kind of "meh" at the same time. Yesterday was my first zero-day of the month, so there's that.
Calendar designed by Dave Seah
If you pay attention to the end-of-the-week counts Dave has set up, you might notice that I was ahead of the game by the close of Sunday. Yay! I was over by about 700 words, which is a nice start. However, especially after neglecting yesterday, I definitely want to try to aim for only 5-days-per-week for my writing schedule. That way I don't stress over missing days like yesterday, and I don't struggle to make up the words lost. I already took them into account.

Thing there, though, is that if I were to write daily for all 30 days of November, I'd have to average about 1667 words per day in order to finish in time. Only writing five days a week means that each daily goal now needs to be 2272 words instead, and I should have been over 11,000 words by now. However, I only surpassed the 2272 words goal twice last week, which means, for that goal level, I'm a bit behind.

I have my word sprints tonight though, so I should be able to catch up.

A reminder for those who might not know off the top of your head what I'm talking about when I say "word sprints" or "writing sprints." The concept is based on running, obviously. It's basically the artistic equivalent of either going a short distance or only having a short allotment of time, so one has to move as fast as possible.

In regards to writing, you can allot yourself few words, say only 500 words or so, and stop as soon as you hit that word count. However, it's hard to keep track of that and still be creative. So most sprints are in reference to time. It kind of relates to Ali Luke's suggestion of scheduling at least 15 minutes a day for writing. Everyone can spare 15 minutes, right? The idea of sprinting is that the author writes for 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 1/2-hour, or even something as short as the time to listen to a single song. Once the author's time is done, so is the writing. Now, this can be a one-time, once-a-day sort of thing. I kind of did unofficial sprints when I would write during my 15 minute long work breaks, and I now do semi-sprints while writing over my half-hour long lunch breaks. Maybe you sprint when you first wake up before getting started with your day. Maybe you do a sprint just before bed to unwind. Maybe you do sprints while commuting on a bus or train. Maybe you sprint while your kid is napping, or even while you have the kid in time-out!

The alternative to a once-a-day sprint, or a "whenever I can find the time" sprint, is what we're doing for NaNo: repetitive sprints. We write for 20 minutes, then we take a 20 minute break to just socialize and bond. We talk about our stories, or nothing at all. We ask questions about roadblocks we're running into, or we ask questions about elements of other people's stories. We read what we wrote, or we are adamant that the non-edited version will never see the light of day. We chat about how we're doing with NaNo, or we sit in our respective corners and impatiently wait for the timer to start up again. Some may even say "screw the timer" and "cheat" by continuing to write during our "break" time. Once that 20 minutes is done, we go back to writing for another 20 minutes, and then another 20 minute break. We keep going with this 20-on-20-off rhythm for three hours. That's 100 hours worth of writing, but sprinkled across three hours so we don't get burnt out.

I'm really hoping doing these sprints will help me get the traction I need. Although I have 9000+ words written, I know I was off my game over the weekend, which is one of the reasons I just didn't bother yesterday. I know that I was rambling, and that I'm probably going to have to redo the entirety of the second chapter once it's time to edit. It also pains me to not edit right now. I'm doing good at keeping my inner critic at bay, but that doesn't mean he's not nagging me to fix things. He's constantly reminding me that this is the worst first-draft of any story that I've ever written. I meander. I ramble. The story is mostly inner-dialog with very little action. It's KILLING ME that I'm doing so poorly.

Then I remind my critic: "Hey, buddy, ease up. It's friggen NaNo! This is supposed to be shit! I don't have time to think and properly craft any of this. Let me pour everything out on paper so my story can develop outside my head. You can have fun sorting through it all next month. Kay?"

That's usually enough to get him to shut up.

Ya know, I've been seeing more and more people naming their Muses - I'm fairly certain mine's a woman, as is Greek tradition - and I'm kind of wondering if I should do the same. I'll definitely have to name my cranky Inner Critic as well.... We'll see if I ever follow through with this.

Back on topic!

So, I'm working on a novel rework of "Peeping Tomcat" while also trying to shove the developing plot of its sequel "One and the Same" onto the back burner. LET ME FINISH ONE STORY AT A TIME, MUSE! Oooooh, yeah, she needs a name.

Anyway, as I mentioned, I had been struggling with getting my traction, but I'm still more-or-less on par with where I should be to finish the story on time. I have my sprints tonight, which should help. I just need to really get into the right head-space, and thinking of elements of the sequel story isn't helping.

What I thought could help was to watch the show again to help me get into Adrien's head. What I found instead is that Season 2 of "Miraculous" started airing the weekend before Halloween, and the first four episodes have already been translated, dubbed, and aired in the UK - at least, I'm assuming it's the UK, because the videos on YouTube had the Disney logo on them, and I'm pretty sure that's the channel that airs ML in the UK.

I tried to behave myself and wait until Netflix has the whole season next month or so - all the more reason I probably should have gone with Varekai this month - ya know, since I'm seeing it this month - and done "Peeping Tomcat" next month since I could binge the second season in December. Oh well, doing them in reverse!

The temptation was too great, though, so instead of watching Season 1 episodes as I planned, I watched the first episode of the second season. I fangirl squealed the whole time.

Basically me:

It only got worse with the second episode. It was like the writers got together and said, "Okay, the Adrienette fans need more love. How about a whole episode dedicated to that? What can we do?"

The end result was this:
Among two other adorable moments that I won't get into because they are semi-spoilers and not nearly as cute as this one, the main draw for the episode occurs when Marinette's best friend Alya oh so subtly pushes Marinette into Adrien during a slow song. Adrien's reaction is to not only instantly ask Mari for a dance, but to drag her onto the floor before she can even answer. He then places her hand on his shoulder, took her other hand in his, wrapped his spare hand around her waist, and then WALTZED around the room. I mean, seriously, who does that!?
Then, because the way she started this whole interaction wasn't subtle enough, Alya proceeded to do what every Shipper of the show has been dying to. Alya "discreetly" slow dances with Nino over to Adrienette, spins away from her partner, grabs Marinette's hand from Adrien's, drapes both of Marinette's hands around Adrien's neck, and then moves both of Adrien's hands to Marinette's waist before spinning back into Nino's awaiting arms. The faces on Marinette's and Adrien's faces are priceless!
So what does Adrien do after such an awkward and mildly intrusive encounter? He smiles at Marinette, shrugs, LEANS IN TO REST HIS HEAD BESIDE HERS, and continues slow dancing! I mean, COME ON! How has he not realized he likes her yet!? Also, the reaction from Marinette when Adrien just rolls with Alya's new dancing arrangement is too cute.
I've watched this episode probably every day since I saw it was translated. It's really helped me with those sweet "Adrien MUST like Marinette" moments. Best is that if I need more inspiration outside this episode, there's even more to choose from throughout the second season. Nearly every episode has SOMETHING to draw these two together.

The third episode was very heavy on the LadyNoir shipping, and I'm a little peeved about this one. Not because I'm not a LadyNoir fan, but because, and sorry for the spoilers by the way, Nadja Chamack ends up getting Akumatized. For those who don't recall, that's who I had as an Akuma Villain named Headliner. Pretty much the only Akuma villain I had figured out.

I was also having her be Akumatized for similar reasons as the actual episode. In the official episode, it's because Nadja's ratings aren't as high as her producer wanted to warrant a prime-time show. In my version she was berated for being out-scooped by Alya. So... being yelled at by a superior because she doesn't have the big scoops the network wants in both my and the official versions. At least I was on par with the basic reasoning she'd be Akumatized.... I also had the necklace that she always wears as the item the Akuma absorbs into, while the official episode has a sort of electronic bracelet that registers ratings. So, two for two in the fact that it's a piece of jewelry. Finally, Nadja's motives while Akumatized are fairly similar in the official and my versions: truth about Ladybug and Chat Noir. In my version it's simply who they truly are. In the episode Nadja was trying to prove that the superheroes were dating. Which is where all the LadyNoir shipping comes in.

Side note: I don't know if the creator had always planned to include this factoid, of if he threw it in because so many fans had speculated on the possibility, but Chat Noir totally purrs in this episode, and it's adorable.

Anyway, back on topic, the fourth episode had another really sweet "Come on, Adrien, confess already!" moment, but it's a bit of a spoiler, so I'll skim over that one.

The fifth episode of the season thus far introduces a new character Kagami. Supposedly, she's intended to be another potential love interest for Adrien, because, ya know, the kid loves anime, so now he has to live in his own G-rated harem anime? Anyway, regardless if Kagami actually does evolve into a new love rival for Marinette - along with Chloe, Lila, and even herself as Ladybug - the episode has Ladybug trying to keep Adrien out of harm's way from an Akuma. There are so many super cute moments since this episode means Marinette, as Ladybug, gets to spend time rescuing, staying close, and even holding her crush Adrien - the holding is whenever she needed to scoop him up to swing out of danger. Meanwhile, Adrien tries desperately not to showcase how smitten he is around Ladybug, but also tries to hide the fact that he's her partner. Obviously the Ladrien episode.

Which means we should get some more MariChat goodness coming up in the near future. Seriously, I think Tumblr wrote the second season.

While I can justify that I did get a great of deal of writing done after the episodes inspired me, I am also using the episodes as a way to distract me and procrastinate. I need to find more of a balance between watching an episode to be inspired and actually getting around to writing. I'm also unsure if I should include any new information I'm getting from the second season, or should I just go with what was shown in the first season only, in order to avoid spoilers..... At the same time, though, by the time I'll be done editing, the second season would have been out for long enough that it shouldn't really be much in the realm of spoilers.

I'll have to play it by ear, along with everything else, I guess. I just need to buckle down and actually get to writing. I want at least the second chapter done by the time I'm done with the sprints tonight.

OH! And one last thing! I haven't checked on my blog views in a while, and so when I did today I was surprised at how many of them they were.
I know, it's kind of hard to see with my screen grabs, but the word underlined is "Miraculous." Okay, it makes sense, it's a popular show and a large, active fandom. It's only natural that tagging my latest blog posts with "Miraculous" would bring in more readers. I wasn't sure how many actually stuck around to read my posts though, at least, until I scrolled down. I cut a bit of a time jump into the above picture. Anything below the arrow are posts before I even watched "Miraculous Ladybug." Yet those used to only have about 50 hits. There is no reference to the show in any of those posts, and yet they all have over 200 hits now, and some have over 400! What the heck!?

So, for any of you who might be going back and reading more of my blog after "Miraculous Ladybug" brought you to it in the first place, thank you. Feel free to leave comments. Love you all!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

NaNo Is Almost Here: Happy Halloween

First of all, a very happy Halloween to everyone! What is everyone dressed up as? I'm going classic/boring: modern-goth vampire.

It was a whirlwind weekend spent out-of-state for my cousin's wedding. Congratulations to the happy couple, by the way!
The out-of-state wedding meant hours in the car driving. Would that also mean hours in the car contemplating the holes I need to fill in the "Peeping Tomcat" plot outline? I mean.... it should have. I did think about the story. I didn't really get many answers for it, though.

I came up with my first potential Akuma villain a few days ago when falling asleep; as it usually happens to me, and I pray I remember when I wake up the next day. I don't think I have her powers locked down, though, and I still need to figure out how the villain is getting defeated.

Of course neither of these main issues, nor a second Akuma villain, came to me while I was driving. The best I came up with was that instead of Cat Noir being distracted thinking about the "Marinette Conundrum" as I originally planned, it would be Ladybug being distracted over the fact that she has to save Chloe yet again, and Cat Noir will be the one with the focus and main grasp of the situation. I need to show that he is nearly LB's equal as a hero before making him look like a doofus against the next few Akuma attacks I pit him up against.

Hopefully, this will better illustrate the fact that he's not bad as a superhero; he's just REALLY distracted with this whole Marinette/Ladybug thing.

Still, I don't have the first villain locked down yet, I still need a second one, I need to figure out how Adrien missed seeing or hearing Tikki for a solid week of spying on Marinette, AND I need to figure out how to explain to the reader how he missed seeing her when the story is in Adrien's First-Person POV. I mean, I can't just neglect to mention Tikki since he doesn't notice her, because the reader my think it was an oversight. It might draw them out of the story, or even have them ask in the reviews "How did he NOT see Tikki?" How do I let my readers know that I thought about it; figured it out; and that I'm not trying to cheat anything?

I have a LOT to still figure out, and NaNo is tomorrow!

In the past, I've done my normal "pantsing" for NaNo, and it resulted in me not winning.

Last year I attempted to do the whole "Plantser" idea for NaNo.

It was my first NaNo win, so I wanted to make sure to follow the same concept. Actually, I wanted to go a step father this year. I was all set to have everything figured out. I wanted a full, complete outline. I was going to spend a whole month, if not longer, prepping for NaNo and have myself perfectly set. I really wanted to be a full-blown "Planner" this year.

To be fair, according to the image, having "lots of helpful notes" is part of being a Planner, and I definitely have that. However, I'm definitely going to have to wing a bunch of key things during NaNo unless I manage to figure it out before I get to that part of the story. I'd call that kind of "pantsing" versus "planning."

Of course, while I'm still struggling to figure out the last details of "Peeping Tomcat" I'm already thinking of plot points for "One and the Same." Not. Helpful. Or... is it? I mean, it gives me a leg up for later, but I'd appreciate it if I could finish off ONE story first.

I guess I'm going into NaNo semi-blind with a 4-pg outline, and pray that it's enough.

I'm also going to try something else that I used last year and hope it's just as successful: five day writing week instead of the "true daily" for the full month. It's more words per day, but it allots me down days for when I get too busy to write every day. It helps me avoid being too hard on myself when I go a day without writing anything, or not writing the daily goal.
Such a super neat calendar! I'm so glad I found this guy last year, and that he updates every year. If you want a better image of this for you to use this NaNo, feel free to check out Dave Seah's work. He has a Patreon if you would like to support him, and he also now sells a full 12-month version of the above writing calendar. It's a great way to keep your writing on track, especially if this works well for you during NaNo. He sells the calendar for $1 per month, so it's down to $2 for the rest of the year. However, he always has his NaNo calendar for free as long as you are ok with this green color scheme. He has other colors over on Patreon.

OK, plug over.

I'm thinking I'm as prepped as I'm going to get. I'll have to give it a better go next year, but it is what it is for this year. Let's see how I do, huh?

How about you guys? You more prepped for NaNo? You even doing NaNo? Are you a Pantser, Planner, or Plantser? Do you have other calendars you like to use? Anyone else use Dave Seah's calendars? What is your story idea? Let me know everything in the comments section below.

Happy NaNo-ing, everyone!