Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Super Short New Years Wishes

Hello, everyone.

As we say goodbye to 2014 and ring in the new year, I wanted to do sort of a year-in-review post. However, we all know how gloriously long-winded I am, and I just didn't have the time to read through my posts prior to about 6pm last night.

I was so drained from the day that I actually passed out before 10pm.

Sadly, said passing out was while reading my blog posts from this year.

I got as far as the end of March with a bunch of notes about things I wanted to reflect upon.

Things like how I was posting a TON of snippets and chapters this year, but my over-all writing was vastly inconsistent.

So, I'm not sure when I'll have the time to get my official New Years reflective post up. In the meantime, be safe on the roads, and here's to a fantastic 2015!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Christmas Gift For You Guys!

First thing's first. I know that Hanukkah is over by now, but life got crazy, which means I missed wishing my Jewish readers a happy one when I skipped last week's post. So, if you celebrate the Festival of Lights, I wish you a belated happy holiday, and hope your Hanukkah was a blessed one.

Now, to explain why I missed last week. Yes, this will be my generic "life is mad crazy, especially working at a grocery store near the holidays." However, it's more than that. The true reason for missing last week's post was because I was too busy writing a short story!


As I mentioned in my last post, Hubby and I have finally gotten around to watching Game of Thrones. We watched the first two seasons thus far, and it has really inspired us. Hubby created his D&D campaign, and we actually had a few sessions last week.

If I remember correctly, our first session was a couple weekends back - either Saturday or Sunday; can't remember which. We had a tournament with all of our characters. As the princess, I only participated in the archery opening games and then watched the others, which consisted of an obstacle course, jousting, a boar hunt, and melee combat.

Well, my in-character little brother - the heir apparent - ended up killing a cousin of Quarthix's character - Brack - during the melee portion. Whoops.

So Brack's family hosted another tournament in honor of their family member dying nobly in the last one. We did that session the next day. Once again my character Airis only participated in the archery portion before sitting out another obstacle course and wrestling portion. No one died this time. YAY!

Then we did our first individual sessions with our characters. Quarthix's fiance's character traveled home with her younger brother and another companion, only to be attacked by a griffon. She and bro lived, but the other companion and two of their horses were griffon-food.

Hubby's character and two companions - cousin's I think - were attacked by an owlbear. I know Hubby's character got out alright, but I can't recall if either of his companions died.... I WANT to say they all escaped with their lives?

Brack and his younger brother were talked in to going to an illegal dog-fighting ring after all the tournament guests left to travel home. Brack, his younger brother, a friend of Brack's younger brother, and said friend's kid brother all went with this guy Malcolm - another friend of Brack's brother's friend - to the games. They bet a few times, but after a couple rounds the underdog managed to kill the favored "dog" - they were actually wolves. The crowd turned ugly and started a riot, killing the victor in the fight. Malcolm and the man in charge of the fights lead Brack and his group in to the back room, where the wolves were kept when they weren't fighting. While they waited out the rioting crowd, the group played some dice, but Brack's younger brother ended up getting caught cheating. Malcolm - who was the wolves' trainer - released them on to Brack's group, and the man in charge of the fights turned out to be a werewolf. Whoopsie.

Brack and his younger brother were the only survivors. RIP little, possibly 8-yr-old Billy. You at least poked a wolf's eye out... or something.

Then we had my character Airis and her younger brother. The road back to their castle has a toll-road. Obviously the royalty can afford the toll, but the guards told their driver that the road was closed down because of a rockslide or fallen tree or something to that effect. Unfortunately, this meant my group was forced down the unsafe, bandit-ridden road. The carriage was attacked by a group of about eight bandits. All six of our guards, our driver, and both of our horses were killed. My younger brother nearly died after getting his eye shot out by an arrow.

Ladies and Gentlemen, presenting the Cyclops King.

Injured herself, my character was too flustered to know what to do with her unconscious brother that was too heavy for such a dainty woman to carry. If at least ONE horse were available... *sigh*

So she left him bandaged and with water and food as she walked to the guard station on the other side of the toll-road. The guards there told her that the road hadn't been closed down for over a month; obviously the "guards" on the other side were bandits meant to lead her in to the trap. Fantastic.

We haven't played through it yet, but I'm informed that by the time the guards brought Airis back to the arrow-filled carriage to retrieve her brother he is missing. While she was hoofing it to the guard station another group of bandits kidnapped the future king. Boy, am I batting a thousand.

Can't wait to see what else these characters are going to get in trouble with....

Well, the point of bringing all THAT up is the fact that it again sparked my interest to world-build Gyateara. If nothing else, so that I can run my own D&D campaigns there eventually.

So, while at work between the 10th and 17th I was thinking of a specific group of people that live on Gyateara, and their faith. The inspiration was basically the Dothraki tribe from Game of Thrones. They are nomadic, barbarian, war-like people. They don't value money at all, but they have no qualms with ransacking a village in order to get food, water, and even slaves and women if they need any of the above. The main thing they value is their horses; believed to be part of their very souls once they pick a horse. I'm obviously not a fan of the raping and pillaging they do when they conquer someone, but that aside, I'm fascinated with the Dothraki. I really wanted Gyateara to have people like them. So I came up with the Sandikir people.

I really, REALLY wanted to introduce you guys to them after mentally working so hard on them all week. Unfortunately, I didn't get around to writing their story prior to last Wednesday due to playing the D&D sessions; plus Christmas preparations.

When last Wednesday rolled around I decided I still wanted to give you folks SOMETHING to show for all of my brainstorming. Especially since I haven't produced anything of note for over a month. I didn't want to tell you all yet again that I had a story building in my mind, but I didn't have anything for you fine folks to read.

I was determined to have the story written out first, and then write out the blog with the link to the story included. Issue was that the story took on a life of it's own - plus I was paused for about an hour or two - off and on - because of researching I was doing. See, one of the key components of the story is a race of Dire Wolves. I didn't want them quite as large as the Dire Wolves you find in D&D, but I did want them to be larger than an average gray wolf.

Originally, I was just going to randomly throw in a size that seemed about the height I wanted them to be. However, I realized how key these creatures are in the story, the culture of the people I'm writing about, and the world of Gyateara as a whole. So I wanted to get them right. I researched wolf sizes and broke down the proportions of the wolf's body so I could better build the right anatomy for Gyateara's Dire Wolves.

I also kept coming up with parts of the Sandikir culture that desperately needed their own terms - Sandikir terms. There was no way that I was going to be able to come up with a full new language, but I HAD to come up with these new words. I used one of the generators I gushed about last time. Thankfully, Fantasy Name Generators did have a language generator. Unfortunately, it still kept me a WHILE to figure out all the terms. I ended up with a list of about 13 new words!

Although, I am proud to state that I came up with Sandikir, Rikmahja, Rikvu, Mahmurja, Konsirph, Likjun, Plinva, and Miknar all on my own! That's over half of my Sandikir terms! I also came up with the names of the three pups by myself, too. YAY!

Now, the story started out as yet another chapter in my The Divine Legends anthology. I was going to simply write the divine "origin story" the people believed in. I had so much of their culture figured out, though. It felt weird to know it and not have it documented somewhere. Granted, I won't be so heavy-handed with "this is how they live and what they believe" in an actual story or D&D campaign. Still, I wanted to make sure to get the culture down on paper - figuratively speaking - while it was fresh. This resulted in me creating a new anthology that talks more about the cultures of Gyateara: The People of Gyateara

Well, the story kept growing and growing until it ended up just shy of 2600 words. I really should expect this by now, I mean... seriously... when have I ever written anything that was short!? I also tried something new. I wrote the story with the narrator talking directly to you as if the narrator were a sort of "tour guide" for the people you - the reader - stumbled upon. Not entirely sure if it works, but you can let me know what you think of it.

"The Land of the Sandikir"

Anyway, with the story FINALLY done, I went to publish it and then work on the blog. Problem being that it was now about 3pm, and I needed to pick up my husband. I had to wait until I brought Hubby home from work before I could publish the tale up on DeviantArt and FictionPress. Once that was done I STILL couldn't get to the blog post.

I had laundry and dishes and other such chores to get done. I was exhausted when everything was complete. I finally gave up and figured I'd post a day late. Then the true chaos of The Last Week Before Christmas kicked in. I had gifts that needed to be finished. My home wasn't completely clean yet - still isn't. I never got around to putting up any decorations aside from our advent calendar and the Christmas tree with no ornaments on it. To this day, I still have most of our presents that I need to wrap.

Totally failing this Christmas thing this year....

But at least I have this one gift for you guys. The story that stopped me from posting last week. Hopefully that and this long post is a good enough gift to thank you all for being such faithful readers.

Love you all, and have a merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Song of GoT and Generators

Oh! Is it "Pretend I was writing" day already!?

As I forewarned, I wasn't going to be able to get much writing in before the end of the year. However, same deal as it has been for over a month now: brain has been brewing.

Thanks to a friend of ours, Hubby and I were able to finally watch the first season of Game of Thrones just before Thanksgiving. We loved it so much we quickly used Hubby's one birthday gift to purchase season 2. We plowed through the whole thing yesterday.

It wasn't as gore-filled as I expected, but it was as bloody, as foul-mouthed, and had way more nudity than anticipated. That aside, it really is an addicting story. You don't really know who to root for. There's backstabbing, allies actually secret foes the whole time, sweethearts becoming complete jerks, murderous villains becoming the heroes, hatred birthing love, and if all else fails, once you've chosen whom you wish to root for, they get killed off.

I know, I know, if I enjoy it so much, I should actually read the books. However,
  1. My reading list is already far too long.
  2. The book could ruin the series for me, but it's unlikely that the series could ruin the books aside from giving me images instead of letting my mind form them based solely on the words.
    • Actually, I think with such a large cast of characters it would be a LOT easier for me to picture the actors in my head instead of trying to start from scratch with a mental image and get all sorts of confused as to who is who.
  3. The man takes FOREVER to write! I don't wish to be like everyone else and wait a decade for the next book. I'm content only in waiting until we can buy the next season. I'll then wait until George R. R. Martin is either done or dead before I'll start actually reading the Song of Ice and Fire saga.
Aside from praising it, my point in even bringing up GoT is this: Martin took YEARS researching and world building. He has then spent nearly two decades in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire - almost 25 years if you count that he started writing the first book in '91. It may be confusing and hard for even him to keep track, but it is an intricate world as well thought out as Middle Earth or Narnia. Maybe even more so considering he has something like 250 characters to keep track of...

As much as I enjoy the series, I find myself entranced by the land. I never skip the phenomenal opening sequence; loving that it changes to showcase where the characters are going to be based in that episode's tale. I study the maps included in the season box sets; trying to memorize the layout of his two-continent world.

It drives me to get lost more in my own world, but more on that in a moment.

The show inspires my husband as well. Shows usually do; the really good ones anyway. He loves them so much he wants to be able to play in them. And play we usually do.

After watching X-Men: Evolution and a few other X-Men based cartoons, Hubby created the X-Future Play by Post forum roleplay game.

Now, he's working on a D&D adaptation of Game of Thrones. In truth, he's working diligently in making his own world and seven ruling families. He toiled away - doing little else - for about three days straight. He drew maps, named reigning cities and families. He came up with their family tree, sigils, and phrases/words-of-honor. He doesn't have seven like GoT does, but he does have a family for each of the six stats in D&D: Strength, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. Each family has a bonus in one particular stat, dependent on the environment of that house. For instance, one family is the protector of the realm's largest university. Anyone in that family gets a familial stat bonus to Intelligence. Another rules over farmers and receives a bonus to their Strength. So on; so forth.

THREE DAYS my husband did this! Granted, it isn't as detailed as most fictional fantasy worlds, or the one I'm trying to build. Still, that's an impressive feat for someone who's unsure of his own storytelling abilities.

So, I now have yet another character to play with: Airis Castilien. She is the eldest daughter of the king and queen; heir apparent for about two years before her younger brother came along.

In the past my characters have been cold. They have been snarky. Most were sarcastic and witty. Some were bleeding hearts. All were generally "good" characters.

I'm switching it up with Airis.

Keeping true to GoT, I'm treating the eldest of royal birth as a bratty young woman with entitlement issues. Namely, the fact that she's the eldest child and yet her little brother gets to rule over her simply because she's a woman.

It is well known between her and her parents that she is now little more than their best bargaining chip. If their reign begins to wobble, she'll be married off as a peace offering. She is being groomed specifically for that purpose: the land's greatest and most coveted commodity, and possible bargaining chip to keep the Castiliens as the rulers of the realm. Airis has accepted that she'll never marry for love, but she sees her marriage as more of an investment than an olive branch. Her goal is to sway her parents in to allowing her to marry the perfect patsy. A man who has enough power that it would be deemed a good match by her parents; a man with enough pull that he could topple the kingdom if he wished; a man fooled easily enough that Airis could take rule from him.

She'll be sweet, proper, may even display herself as the damsel in distress in order to manipulate protection. She'll also be cunning as she craves power. She'll listen to every little whisper and follow every subtle plot. She will be patient, but she'll also be ruthless.

Most of all, if she doesn't get killed, she'll be tons of fun!

But let's backtrack to my world building. In order to help Hubby quickly build his own world, he searched for some fantasy name generators. He found a few that he could work with, but one in particular is now our new favorite.

It has a generator for nearly everything, including things like plant or food names, character descriptions, or even PLANET descriptions. You can practically write a short story using only this guy's generators.

I found it only mildly interesting at first as Hubby had me search for my character's name - I chose Airis because it's pronounced like heiress, and I couldn't resist. However, as he showed me all the other generators on the site - and I took a mini self-guided tour later - I realizes how fantastic this can be for breaking down my writer's block.

Here, check it out for yourself! I'm totally putting it on my Handy Links tab that I've neglected this year. This generator is a must-have for any stumped writer. That, or ones like me who are just really bad at naming things. Although, after names like Middle-Earth and Westeros, is Gyateara really that bad?

Anyway, not writing a fantasy? Writing a horror, historical, mystery, sci-fi, or futuristic tale? He's got generators for that too!

Just go ahead and check out the link: Fantasy Name Generators

I'm a kid in a candy store right now, and so I'm not really advancing anywhere in my world building at this point. I'm having too much fun seeing what the generators come up with. The closest I have is a spreadsheet of deity names and titles. I take the ones I like and just keep going. Eventually - perhaps in the next week or so - I'll narrow it down and start working on my pantheon again, but it's the first time I've really thought about it in months. I call that a victory.

Now, to try to help Ronoxym rekindle. Poor guy confessed that the only tales he has in his head right now are about Devon. I told him he can still write them out as non-canon tales or to tuck away for my comic reboot of X-Future. Not sure if he's alright with those options though. Maybe I can get him to co-write with me again, at least to get his creative juices reflowing.

We'll see what I can do.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Rolling in to December

First up, I have to start and conclude this post the same way:
Yesterday was his birthday, so that was a nice way to conclude our mini-vacation post-Thanksgiving.

To be frank, I had no clue what I'd write today. Due to the holiday, I didn't really think about writing at all this week.

Wednesday was a frantic last-minute dash to get things together for Thanksgiving. Thursday was the crazy holiday itself, but I did manage to get in my belated post. That evening Hubby and I drove to my mom's. However, due to the weather I was going only about 40mph the whole trip, and so it kept an extra 1.5hrs.

Friday I spent some time with my family, and then I zipped off to visit my one friend from Girl Scouts and high school. After spending an hour or so with her I sped off to my bestie's home to help her with the move to the larger apartment. Sadly, I showed up right at the tail end of everyone else moving the non-furniture items. I feel so guilty that I didn't really help much with the actual move, but she CLAIMS I helped by watching my godson while she reorganized the boxes and unpacked a little. So... I can pretend I helped, right? Friday concluded with one of my mom's old friends - and pseudo second mother of mine - swinging by and all of us drinking, catching up, and enjoying treats Hubby and my sis threw together.

Saturday was the family Thanksgiving gathering. Sadly, it's not as big of a thing now that us cousins are all adults, moved away, and started our own families. Still, it was a nice grouping of us. I connected with the "middle cousins" a bit more. Let me clarify, in my family there were four of us born within a year or two of each other. We are the "older cousins," and I am the youngest of that group. The next group of four - which actually includes a cousin born a year after me but he connected with the younger ones more - includes my sister and are about three to five years younger than I am. My poor sister was the youngest cousin for about 13 years before my mom's youngest brothers had families. This group of five - four from one uncle, one from the other - is the "young cousins" or "little cousins" and they are all between 8 and 10. On occasion, two of my cousins will bring their son and daughter and we'll have "the little ones" part of the party. This year the younger cousin - from the "middle" group - brought his daughter and the "Young Cousins" had great fun playing with her.

Anyway, I went on a tangent there. Point is, I was the only one of the "older cousins" that came back for the gathering, and so my socializing ended up with the "middle cousins" group. It was nice to connect with family I didn't really interact with much growing up. It was also fun to have my long conversations with my one uncle. I just wish it were more frequent than "our annual Thanksgiving catch-up."

Sunday was a day of relaxing, FINALLY watching the movie my sister had bought - How to Train Your Dragon 2; it was fantastic - and my mother flipping out that she can't stand my hair and that she was buying me a wash and cut for an early Christmas gift.

The poor stylist. I must have told her about four times "Oh, I don't care. I'm low-maintenance; do whatever." Some stylists love the "do whatever you think works with my face" comment because I'm like a blank canvas they can have fun with. Most stylists, however, just look at me blankly as they desperately wait for more direction. Thankfully, Mom was there to give direction this time. First time I've had my mother pick out my hairstyle since I was about 13. It was a disaster then, but thankfully it worked this go!

Monday we did some last minute things that my mother wanted me to go through, and then the drive home before spending Hubby's birthday early with his family.

Yesterday was our little party for the man. It got so crazy I totally forgot about an eye doctors appointment I had set up. D'oh!

So, for this week, the most I've done storytelling wise was have a cooky dream. It's been a while since I last had a vivid dream, but it almost always seems to happen in my mother's house. Something about that place, I guess.

I was part of a pirate LARP group, but I was just chosen to be "the everyday citizens" and so I ended up signing up for another LARP dealing with time travel and sci-fi elements. Little did I know that I was actually signing up for a top secret government mission. I was informed that I needed to capture some guy before a mass murder happened, and then the next thing I know I'm standing in front of my high school locker. It had been about 12 years since I graduated, and so it was a struggle to remember the combination. When I did there were still items in the locker and I realized I had jumped back in to my 18-yr-old self. I did some spy-stuff around the school and then ended up with a group of pre-teen orphans on their fieldtrip to an amusement park.

It was part SeaWorld/zoo with animals in captivity, but part Six Flags with the typical amusement park rides, games, and food stands. I noticed one of the orphans had a stuffed animal that claimed to be a sea otter, but it had leopard printing along the belly and underside of the tail. I went over to the sea otter tank to make sure I didn't miss anything; some sort of strange breed that had this printing on it.

While over there I heard a woman talking about closed attractions as she pointed at the park map. I went over and noticed a huge section that was marked as "closed due to flooding." Each main portion of the park - split up sort of like Disney World - had a button in the center of it and when you pressed it a mini-movie talking about the attractions in that section played on a side monitor. When I pressed the button on the closed section a video talked about how this portion of the park - in a very Jurassic Park-like way - was once an open game reserve/safari for animals that were genetically engineered for the park. Some were just revivals of extinct species, such as the dodo, sabertooth tiger, and mammoth. However, some were genetically spliced, such as the sea otter/leopard hybrid the stuffed animal depicted.

The video then continued on to tell the tragic tale of Hurricane Katrina flooding this portion of the park and drowning all of the animals in it. Until the section can be fixed up from the flooding, can prevent future floodings, and can rebuild the animal population the section would be closed.

I then realized that the man in charge of this genetically engineered zoo portion of the park was the same man giving me and the orphans a tour of the park. I ran back to the group to find out the man had them held hostage. This was the person I needed to find, and the thousands in the park was going to be the mass murder. I found out that the man had a tragic childhood and he related to the orphans. His family were those animals he engineered, and he lost them too. His family was gone and he was going to show his pain to everyone else.

However, there were some land-based animals that managed to climb high enough to survive, and the man was using them as his murder weapons. He controlled them telepathically through a metal circlet he wore as a crown. I tried to talk him down from his rage, but it was one of the advanced intelligence gorillas that understood my plea and took the man out. The gorilla then used the circlet to inform me and the police how he and his fellow genetically engineered animals were being mistreated. The man went to jail, the animals were put in to protective custody, and I returned to modern day having prevented a large-scale murder spree.

At least my imagination is going full throttle now. That month vacation from writing must have really hit the spot. I just need the time to harness that flow and get my butt to work.

Now, to conclude how I started. I'm also going to throw in an early Happy Birthday to Spink since hers is on Friday.
This image is actually very fitting. I used to make home-made
cards via a card-maker computer program.
The lip marks and handwriting font were both part of my logo.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

My Giving Thanks "Tree"

So, today is Thanksgiving in the United States. Which means it's the last Thursday of November.


That means I missed yesterday's update and I once again didn't even notice it was Wednesday.

Honestly, if it weren't for the numerous "Happy Thanksgiving" posts in my Facebook feed or the "Happy Thanksgiving" texts that I've been getting, I wouldn't have even remembered today was a holiday.

Downside to working retail and having to work on Thanksgiving; as least a part of it.

Hubby is at work now and I'm running around the house to try to do some last-minute cleaning before heading to visit my mom and sister for the weekend. First Thanksgiving in three years that I've had off, but it still doesn't feel like a holiday. When we go to the feast with my mom's siblings on Saturday; THAT will feel like Thanksgiving to me.

Right now all I feel is tired. Thanksgiving is obviously a huge holiday for grocery stores and we've been crazy all week. I felt so bad for customers at the beginning of the week because I honestly lost track of what day it was and forgot that new week means new sales. When I was suggesting things that were on sale LAST week I had the biggest "you're an idiot" looks.

Sorry, customers, I'm burned out.

Although most of the time off will be spent traveling, I'm hoping that taking a vacation this week will help recharge me.

Lord, I have no clue what state I would be in if I had tried to stick with NaNo.

On the plus side, I was able to let my mind wander. After this month I've been able to figure out more of what I'd like to do with Lottie. I've also learned more about being patient and really plotting out everything. Really giving a story time to build and grow. I was always pretty good at having a generic road map, but I also allowed my characters to just run off with the story.

While I'll most likely stick with that strategy when it comes to my writing, it's insanely hard to do when I don't already know the characters. It was easier when I was just writing fanfiction. I knew the characters inside and out and just needed an inspirational spark to get going. I feel like I've really matured the last year as I learned to build Gyateara and the X-Future reboot, and now Lottie and the other vampires of the Cobleskill World of Darkness.

Yes, I don't have much writing to show for November. I have one chapter before giving up NaNo, and I barely touched the X-Future board. However, I was able to recharge my writing brain so I'm once again excited to work on these stories.

Plus, I used the month to crochet instead and I'm actually about 70% done with my niece's Christmas gift already! I might actually have one done BEFORE the gift-date! Whoot! I also have a few presents gathered up/completed for my November-baby friends. So I have a few pitstops while visiting my mom. Speaking of which, I've got a moderate chunk of my mom's gift out of the way too. And my sister's set. December may not be as stressful-gift-giving-wise as it was in years past.

I'm most likely going to still be crocheting like mad and barely writing next month, but I'll at least be relaxed enough to keep my mind wandering so I can jumpstart 2015 with massive writing ready to go down on paper. That's something, right?

Now to finish up with a tradition my mother started with us. Here is my list of things I'm grateful for; one for every day of November leading up to Thanksgiving.
  1. My husband. He is my rock, my best friend, my grounding, my mind when I've lost it, my snuggle buddy, my big kid/Mommy-trainer, my smile and happiness, and my human space heater in the chilled months. I love you, baby!
  2. While we are still struggling, we are able to survive on the paychecks Hubby and I bring home. We can pay our bills, we are never hungry, we can keep a roof over our heads, we can stay warm, and we can still scrounge up enough money to entertain and destress ourselves on occasion.
  3. While on the subject, I'm thankful that there is still a one-screen movie theater in town. It's tiny. It's quaint. It's cheap; only $5 per ticket. It has big movies relatively soon to release dates. It's because of this theater that Hubby and I could watch the movies we were really looking forward to on just the change we've gathered over the month.
  4. My unofficial roomie Quarthix. It's been fun - distracting; hence the messy house, but still fun - having him come over nearly daily. A lot of the people we socialize with up here still feel a lot like Hubby's friends who grew to became mine as well. We all have a good time when together, but it still seems like it's awkward for them to be alone with me, and so they almost never come over except if Hubby's around. Quarthix - while mostly only visits Hubby - has no problem hanging out with just me, and it's been fantastic to finally find someone other than celestialTyrant that is truly a friend of BOTH mine and Hubby's.
  5. While talking about Quarthix I have to talk about his fiance too. It's great for Hubby and I to have a "couple friend" and we found them in these two. They love hanging out as a foursome, and her family has even invited us over to family events on at least three occasions the past year. We have fun just hanging out at each others' apartments and having game nights.
  6. Yeah, we're including this separately. I LOVE game nights. We just play four-player video games, or board games, or card games, etc. Quarthix's fiance even offered for us to do some sort of Dungeon Master study sessions so that we can team up and start our own D&D game instead of waiting for other people.
  7. Spink and her fiance need to be on this list too. While we don't really hang out with them as much as Quarthix and his fiance, this is another great couple that I enjoy hanging with. Yes, Spink still feels like "my" friend and her fiance "Hubby's" friend, but the four of us have a good time; if the duo can find free time in their tight schedules. Spink also works with me, and it's nice to have an ally at work; I have so few. She's also my exercise buddy and she pushes me to Zumba with her. We also Zelda together, so win all around!
  8. Keeping with my thankfulness of friends, I'm increasingly thankful for ChibiSunnie. She has become an ever-increasing presence in my life, and she always has the best timing. She seems to know exactly the right thing to say and the exact right time to tell me them. She manages to pick me up when I'm the most down, and cheer me on when I need the most push. She's one of my biggest fans and loudest cheerleaders.
  9. I'm also grateful that after 20-some years my bestie from elementary school is still in my life. I'm glad I get to visit her this weekend, as well as spend time with her son who just so happens to be my godson. We may not be as close as we once were, but the fact that our friendship endures and we can still stay up until 2am catching up is fantastic.
  10. Speaking of being close, I'm thankful that my sister and I are really clicking. It kept about 25years, but we're finally the sisters I wanted us to be. We miss each other dearly when away. We talk a lot more frequently. We joke with each other. We have fun as we hang out. We enjoy the time we have together. We support each other. She has really matured and stepped up, and I love that we're finally friends. Now, don't get me wrong, we've always been close - at least, I always tried to be close - but we would butt heads more often than not. For my Hey Arnold friends, I'd be Olga to her Helga.
  11. I've always had a passing enjoyment for American football. It was mostly watching New York Giants games whenever I could catch them, really pay attention during the playoffs, and regardless of how well the Giants did over the season I'd watch the Super Bowl. If nothing else but to watch the commercials. This year I grew a huge appreciation for the sport. In part it was because Hubby has been teaching me more and more about it. In part because I unofficially started hosting football parties for Quarthix, his fiance, and any other friends of ours that wished to visit. It was also in part because I was talking to my sister more during the games and bonding over them. It really helped me connect with Quarthix and my sister. So, THANK YOU, FOOTBALL!
  12. Even though it seemed that EVERYTHING went on my car at the same time, it is up and running within budget and set for my drive down to visit family for Thanksgiving. There's still a few things that need fixing, but it's in good enough condition to legally be on the road, and so I shouldn't have to worry about breaking down or traffic tickets.
  13. It was incredibly cold this month. Winter decided to come early up here. However, the weekend that I didn't have my car because it was in the shop the weather was unseasonably warm. The second-to-last weekend in November and I was walking home from work in 70-degree weather. The few times it was close to freezing it wasn't windy, and so it didn't seem so cold while in my winter coat. So, with all the walking I did this weekend I wasn't cold once. I'm SUPER grateful for that since I don't do well in cold.
  14. This one is going to seem super silly, but I'm grateful for this one street in my town. It's mildly out of the way when it comes to driving due to having to stop and turn instead of going straight. However, it does cut off a few minutes if you take this street while walking between my home and work. So I was able to really experience this road for the first time this weekend. I love it because it's pretty much the only place in the whole town that is a solid row of Cape Cod style kit homes. Between the style of home, the size of the property, and the types of trees in the front yard, it was like walking through my hometown. It was a nice strip of my old home nestled in my new. I even half-expected to see my hometown's public park as I turned the corner. It was a nice reminder of where I came from, and it was comforting.
  15. Space heaters, and the family members that buy me them. As I mentioned two up, I don't do well in cold. So having the space heaters available to keep me warm without kicking on the heat is fantastic! It's cheaper if we don't need to warm the whole place, and it's a way for me to stay toasty without roasting Hubby. He used to be a Polar Bear Swimmer, and so he more-or-less thrives in about 50-60 degree temperatures. Meanwhile, I'm frozen in anything less than 70 degrees.
  16. YouTube and free GooglePlay downloads. I get such a wide variety of music for free that I can custom-make my own radio playlist. I have something for every mood I'm in and it helps me through the day. Should I expand this to me being thankful for music in general?
  17. Netflix and friends willing to lend out season DVDs. Hubby and I can't afford too many TV channels, and so we miss a lot of awesome shows. As long as we don't mind being a season or two - or ten - behind, we can use Netflix - and a few friends - to watch these awesome stories and competitions. We're currently addicted to Food Network's Cutthroat Kitchen, and a buddy lent us the first season of Game of Thrones. While it's not as gorey as I thought - it's still super bloody - it has a LOT more nudity than I was expecting....
  18. Emoticons/Emojis/Facebook Stickers. Whatever you call them, they are fantastic! It's sad, but a large majority of my recreational human interaction is online. Being a writer I can still express myself fairly well, but the addition of emoticons really helps me get the full feeling across. Now I know the person I'm talking to gets exactly how I feel or what I mean. They can see the non-verbal that is so crucial to communication. Just ask Phfylburt. We're constantly joking that I'm reverting back in to speaking in hieroglyphics and that I can basically hold an entire conversation consisting of only Facebook stickers.
  19. Here's a really weird one, but I'm thankful that my niece seems to finally be warming up to me. She's still young - not yet two - and so she's in that stage in which she's weary of those she doesn't see all that often. Although I have seen her at least once a month all year, that's still pathetically little in the eyes of a toddler. I get that she knows she recognizes me, but is still unsure as to how we're connected. She's clingy to her mother or my mother-in-law whenever we're together, but yesterday I was able to get her to laugh, smile, and I was actually able to capture a smile or two on camera!
  20.  Facebook games. They are addicting. Facebook as a whole is an addition I keep getting suckered back in to. However, it's free entertainment - well, aside from the monthly internet bill - and it helps Hubby and I unwind without spending our limited funds.
  21. To try to promote all employees really taking the new "service message of the day" to heart, our store co-manager went around and asked us about the message of the day. Anyone who he felt answered appropriately received RedBox free movie rental coupons. Hubby and I had two to share, and so we got to finally watch a couple movies that were sitting on our "to watch" list for a while. Wow, we got a lot of free/discounted stuff this month/year...
  22. Digestive Advantage's Lactose Defense Formula by Schiff. I never realized how much I LOVED dairy until I became lactose intolerant. I was in so much pain, or I was depressed that I couldn't eat my favorite foods, or I was debating between the other two options or spending the massive amount of money of tearing through a full box of Lactaid just about every week. Then I tried Lactose Defense. What a godsend. Just one pill a day - so only about $9 a month - and I can have as much dairy as I want for the full day. A cheap solution that allows me to eat what I love without being doubled in pain later.
  23. Crocheting; more specifically, that my one friend in college taught me how to crochet and read patterns. My stuff still comes out looking silly and far from professional/sellable. However, yarn is cheap and people seem to enjoy the crafts I make them. It's a way for me to still show someone how much I care without breaking the bank. Hmmm, maybe I should extend this to "I'm thankful people at least pretend they appreciate the gifts I make them..."
  24. While I'm still thankful for the actual NaNo program, I'm grateful that Hubby convinced me to give up this year. Writing is once again fun and an escape as opposed to a stressful chore.
  25. The growth I've made with my writing over the year. From day to day it didn't seem like much, similar to watching a child grow, I'd wager. However, when I think back to everything I've learned since January, I really have changed to a more mature thought process and perspective. I've struggled, but grew with each struggle. I now have a better idea of what I want to do during the upcoming year.
  26. I can't finish this list without including you guys, my readers. I have no clue why you stick by me when I barely put out anything besides excuses and I routinely miss my weekly update time. Yet not only did you stay, but you've grown in number. It humbles me that you all enjoy what I'm doing that much. I'm amazed with every positive bit of feedback and plea for me to keep going with my stories. You are the forgotten heroes of my life. If I didn't have an audience I don't know if I'd be as determined to keep up with this blog, or writing in general. It would just be something else to add to the fail-pile and the "What if" list. Thank you so much for keeping me on a path I've wanted for two decades.
  27. Finally, I'm grateful that I had today and yesterday off. I had so many last-minute things I needed to do to get ready for my Thanksgiving Weekend trip. I barely had any time to relax yesterday; I can only imagine how behind or crazed I'd be if I had to work. Plus, I can have things set for when Hubby gets home instead of either us completely ignoring the holiday or him being forced to cook after his shift.
Mom, if you're reading this, know that even though you didn't make the list I am eternally grateful for everything you've done for and given me. There's just too much to ever fit on here...

With that I shall bid you all a happy and safe holiday. If you happen to not be American, then I'll just wish you a fantastic last weekend in November. Enjoy this last bit of calm before the craziness of the holiday season kicks in to full-swing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Writing Vacation Rekindles the Muse

Wow. It's been so long since I've used my netbook, I nearly forgot where I had left it. Worlds of difference from before it broke and I practically lived on this thing. Always on it while watching TV, or brought it with me to use on work breaks, or stashed it to work on writing while visiting a friend's place - in case said friend and Hubby decided they'd rather Magic - or even hide in my own bedroom with it in order to get writing done.

I guess the change is in part that I have more things that I need to work on now than I did over a year ago. Mostly, though, I think it's just because the laptop isn't fully fixed yet. I'm still stuck with my power cord needing to be plugged in at all times and the netbook itself lags way more than it ever did before. So I can't do as much with it as I used to.

Still. Going a week without touching it, or even realizing that I haven't touched it until I go to use it this morning... woah.

I've been spending my much more relaxing November week away from writing. Hubby and I used a free DVD rental to finally watch X-Men: Days of Future Past. For me, it's the same as the first X-Men movie that came out back in 2000. It was marvelously inaccurate to the actual comic book canon, but still very entertaining.

I've spent a few days getting back in to replaying Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. The real drive there, I think, is both the fact that I've had sea shanties from Assassin's Creed: Black Flag stuck in my head - so, why not go with a LoZ "pirate" game - and also the fact that Hubby lent Spink his copy of The Wind Waker. Watching her play it made me want to start up the digital copy we got with our Legend of Zelda themed WiiU. I have to say, the biggest kick I've been getting out of it is that they updated the game so Link can take selfies with his pictobox now. I also like that I can move the gamepad around to scan above me when using the bow and arrows, rope, pictobox, or telescope. It's neat to look around Link by looking around my living room. Plus, it's so much fun that I can still play on the WiiU while Hubby is watching TV or playing on the XBox. LOOOOOVE being able to just play on the gamepad!

I've also gotten pretty far in my long list of crochet projects. I'm nearly done with a belated birthday gift I needed done before the end of the month. I have the Christmas gift for my niece about 75% of the way done already. Which, is insanely amazing considering her blanket was completed AT HER HOUSE on Christmas last year, and the matching pillow was finished two days after her first birthday. I'm also just starting up another family Christmas gift. I may actually get these all done on time!

That doesn't mean I HAVEN'T been working on my stories, however.

I'm still mentally developing Lottie. Although, I'm now wondering if I should do with her what I'm doing with the X-Future reboot. Sure, the whole thing will still be a White Wolf "Vampire: The Masquerade" fanfiction - I can't change it too much - but I'm debating keeping the main characters as the players of our LARP. I'm leaning more towards just taking certain aspects of the characters and rework them in to originals for the story. For instance, instead of taking Dan exactly as Ronoxym created him, I can use the element of Dan being a Brujah Seneschal - essentially a Vampiric Vice President - that Lottie wants to manipulate in to Prince - Vampiric President of a city.

For Victor I can just make a generic tough-guy punk; perhaps a former rock star from the late 80s/early 90s. Quarthix hasn't put much depth in to Victor yet - or at least, hasn't displayed much depth - and so he's easy enough to customize in to my own story version. The group from Albany were all NPCs, and so The Bard didn't exactly create well-rounded characters, which leaves me with another spot where I can sink my teeth in to new characterization. As much as I love Hubby's two characters, aside from maybe using both as ways to manipulate the Cobleskill group, I don't foresee a need for either of them. In fact, aside from maybe including Katelyn as someone that is just as suspicious of Lottie as Lottie is of her, I don't see a need for any of the actual LARP characters besides Dan and Victor.

So, I've been trying to rethink my cast of characters. I know that I want to include the following:
  • Lottie
  • Dan and Victor - in some shape or form
  • Flashbacks including Lottie's husband Cooper and her sire Minnie
  • The Tzimisce that killed Minnie; who is still nameless - and technically genderless - at this point
  • The Prince of Cobleskill; who is Prince Stone if I go by the LARP
  • Possibly Katelyn and The Gangrel
  • At least brief appearances by Molly, Hank, and Joe from the Albany group
  • Possibly Hubby's characters Aiden and Billy
Obviously the big "bad guy" would be the murderous Tzimisce, but I need conflicts other than that. I need antagonists to push the story forward. I still need a plot. I'll have to see where my brainstorms take me.

Lottie's tale isn't the only thing I've been thinking about lately, though. The other day I randomly realized that I still haven't watched Joss Whedon's take of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing". I then wondered - no matter how much I love Joss Whedon's work and the cast he picked - could it possibly dethrone the near perfection of Kenneth Branagh's version. Further contemplation about my favorite Shakespearean play resparked my urge to turn it in to a Hey Arnold fanfiction. So, for the past couple of days I've been mentally plotting out how to go back to my original fandom and write a story loosely based on Much Ado About Nothing; since I still can't find a good way to do a straight retelling.

Thinking about Hey Arnold again also rekindled my desire to get back to my long-forgotten What Is Truly Meant To Be. I actually had a comment about the story over on DeviantArt the other day. Funny how I was re-inspired to start working on it the day before someone commented on the tale. Please note, no one has read/commented on WITMTB more-or-less since I last wrote a chapter for it; about a year or two ago.

Fair warning though, guys:
Due to the amount of cleaning and crafting I have to do before the end of the year, the amount of WRITING I'll be doing before January will most likely be minimal. But I'll keep harvesting these plot bunnies and placing them in cages until I have the time and room to let them develop and mature.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Why I'm Glad I'm No Longer NaNo-ing

I really don't want to write this post. I dreaded it a bit, to be completely honest. Mostly due to what I have to say.

I'm giving up on NaNo.

At least, for this year.

It was a rough decision for me, but one I'm glad I made.

Last week I just barely squeaked out a chapter and even so, I was still about 6,000 words behind where I should have been to hit the end goal. This week? I didn't write a word. Not a single one.

I'm drained and haven't been sleeping well lately. Every time I'm in a quiet room so I can think and write I end up passing out. The only way I can keep myself awake is with insane amounts of coffee - something I almost never drink otherwise - or when I'm socializing. I blame the later on the fact that I'm truly an extrovert although I have become a bit of a homebody the past few years.

A few more days ticked by with no progress. The ONE day I was fully awake in a completely quiet house was when I had my day off last Friday. How did I spend my time? Not writing.

Nope. I figured "I'll check out my Facebook notifications while I have coffee and breakfast. Then once those two items are done I should be through with my online maintenance, and I can finally write." Instead I finished my notifications with a link to a article my friend posted. Which reminded me of another article I had read a few months back that I had been meaning to send to another friend. I couldn't really remember the title of the article, and so I did a search for the basics of it. I did find the article I was looking for, but I also spotted about seven others that piqued my interest.

I told myself I'd just read those real quick and then I'll move on to writing. I still had about five hours until I needed to be somewhere. Then the phone rang.

It was my husband wondering if I could bring him a lunch when I came in to do my own stuff at work. That's when I realized that I had just lost about four hours to reading Cracked articles. Each one had hotlinks in their sentences enticing you to read that linking article if you weren't 100% sure what they were referencing. Articles lead to three more, which lead to another three more; it was like chopping off hydra heads. Once you were done with one, more popped up in its place.

I had gotten completely lost on, and also lost my opportunity to get writing done on my only day off that week. I rushed to get ready and slap together a meal for Hubby and me before zipping off to work; arriving 15minutes late for the meeting I was purposely going in to work for.

This, my friends, is why I don't Tumblr. I get lost easily; I have an addictive personality like that. DeviantArt? Spent 4hrs just looking up Gambit pictures once. Writers' Huddle forum? Ali had to send me a message on Facebook telling me to get off her site and go get something to eat. YouTube? Just yesterday I spent a good hour just going through multiple videos by "Outside Xbox". Cracked? Well, Friday wasn't the only day I've lost hours of my life reading their articles. Stupid archives....

Well, after my epic fail of doing ANYTHING productive on Friday, I snapped.

I hadn't been feeling well; sleeping well - as I stated at the top of this post - and I was feeling like a loser for not being able to motivate myself to write; regardless of all the procrastination-killing articles I've both read and posted here.

Now let's sprinkle in that I had a couple of personal issues arise. My time not snoozing or working was now spent trying to fix; organize; and emotionally deal with what was happening in the world around me.

For those concerned: I'm now fine. My husband is fine. My mother is fine. My sister will be fine. My in-laws will also be fine soon; we hope.

The issues were all both major and minor at the same time; depending on how one approaches the situation.

Either way, it compounded stressors and took up more of my time than I'd care to admit.

By the time everything was all figured out it was about the 9th and I had only written about 3000 words. About a fifth of what I should have been up to.

Add in that for some reason our Vamp game was pushed back to this upcoming Saturday instead of last week's. For me, it means that what I hoped to have been two events that could respark my interest in the project - the game on the 8th and 22nd - narrowed down to just the one event this Saturday; given that the one after that would be the Saturday Hubby and I would be visiting my family.

So a large portion of my inspirational infusion was taken away. On top of that, the last game we had Lottie essentially did nothing. It was painfully obvious that particular session was essentially written to advance one or two characters; but not all of us. A large portion of the time I was chatting with Quarthix; a buddy of ours that has become a near-constant staple in my apartment lately.

Anyone who read my solitary chapter for Lottie's story will know Quarthix as Victor's player.

Point being, last game didn't really spark my imagination with me being either a bored and confused character not knowing what to do with Lottie aside from stand there and twiddle my thumbs, or I was out of character and just socializing.

Toss in that I won't have another opportunity to play as Lottie until THIS Saturday, and that's a big dip in drive and inspiration.

Between being exhausted and stressed out - which indeed lead to a bad head cold - and then my drive to tell Lottie's story more-or-less killed in the role play; I just fell further and further behind.

And I hated myself for it.

"It's simple" I'd tell myself "It doesn't even need to be good; just get SOMETHING down on paper."

"Write the actual raid on NYC. Who cares if you suck at fight scenes; just do it. Perhaps the next portion of the story will come to you by then. Heck, the raid could even be two chapters since it took two game sessions to complete."

"You can't even write for an HOUR every day? What is wrong with you!?"

I went from hopeful to depressed. Something I was looking forward to was becoming such a chore. My means of escaping, recharging, and de-stressing was doing the exact opposite. Every time I thought about writing I just remembered how far behind in my word count I was. It wasn't an escape; it felt more like a "time out"; an activity I wanted to escape from. It wasn't recharging me and exciting me; it was draining me to the point of me passing out every time I tried. I was getting even MORE stressed about writing; and ticked off at myself for not doing it.

It got so bad I even wept at least once.

I kept calling myself a loser for giving up. I debated if the truly was my passion if I kept avoiding it. I wondered how I could ever make a career out of writing if I not only couldn't put in the effort to write - even after literally scheduling time to do so - but I also would give up after falling behind.

I fell in to a really dark place this week as I wrestled with myself about this whole NaNo thing. Hubby nearly ordered me to stop attempting; he didn't like what it was doing to me. That's when I finally submitted.

It was the best decision I could have made.

Yes, I'm still a bit disappointed. It's not even half-way through the month; I could still attempt a half-NaNo of 25,000 words. But I know I shouldn't try. Nearly the entire last week of the month will be shot due to Thanksgiving and the traveling/visiting I'll be doing. Between driving, socializing with my mom and sister, getting ready for the large family dinner, SOCIALIZING at said extended-family Thanksgiving dinner, meeting up with my bestie and godson, and possibly sticking around enough to help them move in to their larger apartment... when will I have time to write? Maybe in the few quiet hours at the end of the day, but I'll probably be more inclined to just watch a movie with the family.

The more I think about this month, the more I realize how quickly it goes by. I still have so many gifts I need to make; and waiting until December to do so always ends in both disaster and me not enjoying the holiday season. My apartment looks like a warzone. Hubby tries to help, but he gets just as exhausted from work as I do; plus Quarthix is an easy distraction with his constant visits.

I'm surrounded by time crunches and clutter and that just adds to the stress I already have going. Worrying about hitting self-imposed deadlines is the last thing I need to add to the pile. I need to learn how to organize and balance my life first.

I also didn't really have any NaNo buddies. Cyhyr was again off in her little solo-writing world that works best for her productivity. Power to her, but isolating herself so completely - an infinitely easier task for an introvert - doesn't really help motivate me. I'm that person who won't really exercise without someone else nudging them to. Apparently I need a writing buddy just as much as an exercise one. Even if I don't feel like doing so, if Spink told me "let's go Zumba" I'll jump right on it. If my mom said "Let's go take a walk" I'd be glad to go with. If Cyhyr said "Let's write 1000 words and then send them to each other by the end of the day" I'd be motivated. Without these people nudging me on, I'm a bump on a log waiting for my own motivation to kick in.

So I officially threw in the towel on Sunday.

It was a fantastic feeling. I felt such a weight lifted. I cleaned. I jumped on to X-Future; which I had also been neglecting and was therefore holding up the limited playing others were attempting to do. I sang in the shower. I even played a video game; something else I haven't really done outside helping Hubby push through levels of Hyrule Warriors.

I was in a fantastic mood and was actually energized for the first time since November started.

I've also become inspired again. Partially.

I realized that without the LARP hand-feeding me a plot for Lottie's story, I didn't have one. I had her past mostly figured out, and I had a few goals. I had no clue how to get from point A to point L, though.

She's on a mission to track down Tzimisce in order to avenge her murdered sire; oh, and she wants to figure out what happened to her husband that went MIA in WWII. Fantastic. How is joining the group from Cobleskill going to help with any of that? I had no clue. Still don't.

I was stalled because I had a CHARACTER concept; not a story one.

The inspiration that struck after I threw in the NaNo towel was a series of discussions Lottie would have with the Cobleskill characters. Mostly further character development; growing the dynamic between her and the other characters. I still don't really have a plot, but I'm beginning to see how her day-to-day life would go down in the meantime.

I needed to figure out how she'd try to convince Dan to overthrow the Cobleskill prince; and why she'd want him to in the first place. That part was easy; I have had that speech lined up since before the last game; the one where Lottie did absolutely nothing.

I needed to figure out how she felt about the Gangrel in the town. She's not a fan of vampires that forsake their former humanity. Tzimisce turn themselves in to perfect versions of humans as a way to surpass them, or they manipulate themselves in to horrid beasts to escape their humanity. Gangrel also get in touch with the "inner beast" that awakes when becoming a vampire, but they become more animalistic. A Gangrel that has lived long enough may look more like a were-creature than a human. I needed to figure out how Lottie would handle that.

Lottie also needed an ally in the city; a confidant. I was going to default to Dan since he was a fellow Brujah. However, Dan's played by Ronoxym, and it would feel too much like Devon and Willow. Especially since Dan and Katelyn are so close, and so she'd just default to Nyssa.

I then thought about Lottie connecting with Hubby's one character Billy. While I can see Lottie getting amusement out of the silver-tongued lawyer, I really don't see her trusting him enough to have him be her confidant. Besides, it seemed too easy to pair up my character with my husband's.

I then thought about Victor last night. He's a rough and tumble no-nonsense kind of guy. Probably not someone Lottie will become romantic with - I didn't really want to bring in romance anyway; that's too cliche - but I could see him being someone she'd be drawn to. Even in game - mostly because there wasn't much for Victor to do either - Lottie and Victor were hanging out; which is why Quarthix and I spent the majority of game just talking.

Seeing the socialization of the Cobleskill group weave together in my head has really helped me out. I may not post any other chapters anytime soon, but at least writing is again an escape. I can once more let my mind wander. I can get these conversations committed to paper; to later lace together once I have a plot to stick them in to.

Lottie's talking to me again; well, she's talking to OTHERS, but I HEAR her. So maybe waving the white flag wasn't such a bad decision after all.

Yes, I still have a lot to learn and a lot of maturing to do before I can turn writing in to a career. I'm still a little unsure if I'll ever get there. I still have doubts that I'm as passionate as I claim; maybe I'm just holding on because I've had the dream for two decades. Investing that much time in something I give up on seems like such a waste.

Yet the majority of me feels more confident now. I'll just have to get my barrings and try again with the rest of my writing group. The majority of them can't stand that NaNo is in November; the busiest time of the year for them. So we're voting on when Struggling Writers Society will do our own NaNo; probably in June or August.

I'll try another crack at it then; as a Camp NaNo participant, perhaps.

In the meantime, I'll jot down the conversations Lottie's having. I'll play my video games that have been stockpiling. I'll clean my house and work on my crochet projects. I'll focus on the tradition my mom raised me on: Giving Thanks Tree; adding a new thing to be thankful for every day throughout November.

I may even follow Laura Miller's advice, even though I couldn't stand how she presented it. I'll let you know what book(s) I can make it through.

So, if you're like me and NaNo has become more of a chore than a fun exercise, give it up. There's no shame in it. It's not worth the stress you're giving yourself. Just wave the white flag, dust yourself off, and just let yourself ENJOY writing again; at your own pace. We'll tackle 50,000 words again in the summer.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

1st Week of NaNo: COMPLETE

Sorry about the delay. I was too busy NaNo-ing yesterday that I didn't get to working on this post until about 11pm. I passed out about five times while writing it. I would wake up and notice that my sentence became something along the lines of "he's not a fan of 'a wall of text' and so I have to spread out mayonnaise and then add pickles to the right side door."

I don't even know where half the stuff came from. Yay, sleepy stream of consciousness.

My update wasn't done, but it also wasn't making any sense anymore. So I submitted to having a late update and I gave up for the night. Then I had work first thing in the morning up until 1pm. I did have my chapter done and posted before midnight last night though. Does that count?

Man, I need to remember to write up the short "what I did today" blips on the actual day they happen, not wait until Tuesday and then quickly try to compile them.

I was excited to get started on writing during NaNo. Plus, I had Wednesday off in who knows how long, and for who knows how many more weeks. I was geared and itching to write. I ended up bombarding The Bard with a whole bunch of questions about our game, and some insight in to Lottie; my vampire character whom I'll be writing about during NaNo.

I spent hours researching 1940s lingo/slang, when the draft was extended to include 18-year-olds, and the different WWII attacks/campaigns that were getting started shortly after August. I just absorbed as much background info as I could.

Mostly more researching in order to get as ready as I could for writing Lottie this month. I wrote down a bunch of info that I already knew about Lottie, and wrote down questions I needed answered about her.

I sent a copy of the list off to The Bard for him to look over. He was supposed to send me back some critiques and notes before I moved on to the actual project. Unfortunately, he's not a fan of "a wall of text" and so I have no clue if he actually read what I needed him to.

In the meantime, I'm a bit stuck until I get the answers I'm looking for. I'll have to focus on the plotline Bard came up for us for the game, and then branch out from there as Lottie's story starts to develop. Here's hoping it works that way...

Thankfully it wasn't November yet, because this day was just a wash. I dropped Hubby off at work, messed around on Facebook for a little bit, cleaned up a touch, and then went in to the shower. After showering, grooming, tracking down make-up and putting it on - a very slow task for me since I rarely wear it - and figuring out what "Halloweeny" outfit I could wear, it was time to go to work for my two hours of wellness. I did my work, and then waited around a little bit for Hubby to finish his shift. Add in some grocery shopping and by the time we got home the Trick-o-Treaters were already heading out. The whole event was nearly done by the time Hubby and I finished dinner. Didn't even see any of the kids all dressed up. Such a bummer. Did get a surprise visit from the sister-in-law and niece. She was an adorable little owl for Halloween. We then finished the night with a few "monster" movies: UltraViolet and ZombieLand.

Well, it was a bitter-sweet day. I had a long, tiring day at work. Saturdays are already crazy. The first of the month - when everyone gets their social security/benefits checks - is even more crazy. Both happening on the same day is already recipe for disaster. Now add in an unexpected: our store's main competitor was closed for three hours while the electric company did maintenance on the power lines. This meant all of THEIR customers became OUR customers. Sprinkle in that the power outage also hit residentials, and so now we also have people who couldn't make themselves coffee or a hot breakfast.

Not. A fun. Day.

One of the newest members of the X-Future board just happens to be my co-worker: Spink. Originally, we were going to swing by my place after work, allow me to get changed and grab the game, and then we were going to her apartment to Zumba; mainly because she actually has the floor space for more than one person to dance. Hubby even had my clothes all picked out, the game all packed up for me, and he had made me a lunch so I was all good to go. Problem being, after all the running around at work, neither Spink nor I wanted to Zumba. We wanted to stay at my place and play Hyrule Warriors.

Oh! That's right. I never told you guys. Hubby preordered the Dynasty Warriors/Legend of Zelda cross-over game.
Gonna Do A Thing
It's so pretty!!! :D <3
How Hubby and I spent our October...
Anyway, point is, we decided to stick around and play that. However, Hubby already had a friend over and they were playing the latest Madden game. Spink still stuck around and we chatted for an hour or so before we could swipe the system away from the guys - who did end up playing HW as well - and that's pretty much how I spent my Saturday.

Normally, I would have used the time Hubby was preoccupied with his game to sneak away and write. However, I couldn't just disappear while Spink was around. Plus, we rarely get time to socialize outside work with her in college right now.

Sure, I missed a day, but it was only the first day. I can catch up. I can consider it a Last Hurrah before I have to give up socializing.

Ironically, while I wasn't able to get myself to write, I was able to convince Cyhyr to get cracking. She always seems like she WANTS to participate in NaNo, but never seems to actually do so. After a little nudging, she managed to write 3047 words before she called it a night. Pretty impressive for someone who was just going to let another NaNo slip by. Here's hoping she keeps up that momentum.

After failing at both writing during Saturday and writing while my husband was on the overnight shift, I had no other alternative. I had to write in the afternoon shortly after picking Hubby up. We had a delayed Halloween party - which, I guess, could have been considered a Dia De Los Muertos party since it was on that Mexican holiday - that evening. I didn't want to lose another day of writing, and so while Hubby napped before the party, I hunkered down and got to writing. I only got 1415 words in before I had to stop and get my costume together. Not nearly enough to make up for missing a day; not even enough to "complete" this one day of writing. However, I got words down on paper - er, up on Google Docs - and that's more than a lot of people do. I also didn't give up even though I had a moderately full day. So I consider that a minor win. Is it bad that part of me wanted to ditch the party and keep writing???

Another tiring day. Part of the problem being that a co-worker screwed up so badly that our boss had enough and sent her home; leaving us short-staffed. Then the person who was supposed to come in early in order to help cover the staffing hole had some sort of issue and not only didn't show up early like she agreed, but showed up late for her normally-scheduled shift.


I was also still a bit sleep-deprived from the socializing and attempting to still get some writing done. Finally, I think I'm coming down with a head-cold; probably due to the lack of sleep.

As soon as I got home I went in to the bedroom in order to write. I didn't care that Hubby had one of our couple friends over. I felt a bit bad for the fiance since she wasn't actively playing Madden with the guys, but she seemed content to be hanging out with them before I showed up. I figured she'd be fine while I knocked out a few words. Perhaps an hour or so and then I would have caught up to the target word count. I'd allow myself the reward of socializing then.

Problem was that as soon as I sat in bed I leaned against my upright stack of pillows and promptly passed out. Hubby woke me about two hours later when dinner was ready. We ate, the couple went home, and the primetime shows Hubby and I are really in to were on.

I'm sure I can push through and catch up Tuesday; as long as I drink enough coffee...

After two full cups of coffee, I was alert enough to finally finish off my chapter. I'm not at all excited about the pacing. It felt too slow, and I introduced about 10 characters at once. Probably not the best idea. But it's NaNo. We don't go for perfection. We go for getting the words on to the page. Sadly, the words just aren't getting to the page fast enough. Missing Saturday and Monday killed me. I even failed at hitting the suggested 1667 daily target word count; ending with only 1662 words. My end count for this first half-week was only 3077 words. A "full" two days of NaNo would be 3,333 words, and so I didn't even hit that even though I did actively wrote for two of the past four days. Having full - and tiring - days at work have been really killing my motivation; evidenced by my nap Monday. I'm hoping that I can catch up at some point this weekend. Or at the very least, Wednesday since I only have a six-hour shift, and I'll have the house to myself for a couple hours. Plus, I'm now working on the more exciting fighting chapter. My only concern this time is that I was never all that great at writing fight scenes.

In the meantime, feel free to read my first chapter. As I stated in my last post, I'm attempting to publish a new chapter every week during NaNo. However, that's only five chapters for a 50,000 word story; unlikely. Here's hoping I can really pick up the pace and write multiple chapters....

"I Don't Have A Title For This Story Yet"

How about you guys? Anyone working on NaNo too? How far are you?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why Laura Miller is Wrong About NaNo

Alright! Finally getting to the blog post I alluded to two weeks ago. A nice article that is a great discussion piece, in my opinion.

Figures that the first time in weeks that I have a Wednesday off - and therefore can actually WRITE my blog in time for the noon update - is the same week that I already had one all set to post....

Anyway, as a reminder of how I found it, my high school friend Stargazer had posted this article up on the Struggling Writers Society facebook page. The long and short of it was to try to promote reading as much as writing. Ask any professional writer and they'll tell you that reading is crucial to the craft.

However, the way this woman went about promoting reading just irked me. So much so that a simple comment on the post turned in to a long-winded, ranty, 6page essay. With ChibiSunnie's suggestion, I went back, edited, toned the language down a bit, and then left it here for you fine folks.

First up though, the article itself:
Better yet, DON'T write that novel: Why National Novel Writing Month is a waste of time and energy by Laura Miller.

Forgive me, because I'm going to be attacking this more-or-less paragraph by paragraph.

Right off the bat, I couldn't stand that Miller more or less started off stating “I salute you” to people that don’t know what NaNoWriMo stands for. That’s just insulting anyone who DOES know what it means; even if they never participated. Should we really be awarding people who managed to stay in the dark about one of the most well-known writing activities for amateurs? Don't get me wrong, if you DIDN'T know what NaNo was before, there's nothing wrong with that. I didn't know about it until a few years ago myself. Still, to reward or berate people for knowing or not knowing something like this seems a bit over-the-top.

Excuse her language here, but Miller then continues with:
I am not the first person to point out that "writing a lot of crap" doesn’t sound like a particularly fruitful way to spend an entire month, even if it is November.
Thing is, she’s completely missing the point. This program is for aspiring writers who are afraid to cross that threshold from “I have an idea” to “I’ll write it down”. So many are frozen because they’re afraid that what they’ll write is going to be horribly bad. NaNo - and it’s basic setup - is almost designed specifically for bad writing. People can fearlessly go ahead and write down that grand idea. If it comes out as the crap you feared it would, you at least have the justification of “I was writing quickly and didn’t have much time to think things through”. So, if your character is one-dimensional it’s because you couldn’t afford to take the time to really get to know them. Major plot holes? Not enough time to think the full story through before writing. Dialog flat? You were just rushing back into the action and needed to get the basic idea of dialog down.

In other words: all of the issues that come up in nearly every first draft ever written by any author. However, you have the luxury of “justifying” these issues by blaming NaNo’s quickened writing pace. It’s a way to ease newbie writers in to the craft. So they get over the fear of failure. They can look back and laugh “wow! Check out the junk I wrote last NaNo!” Sure, it’s a waste because you spent an entire month doing little more than writing, and the end result was teri-bad. However, is it really better for you to have taken 3months to write that bad first draft that would need revision regardless? Just, maybe not as much revision if you took the time instead of rushed through NaNo. Plus, at least the idea is now out of your head; good or bad, it's now on paper.

The key thing is to conquer that fear. Alright, you wrote a bad manuscript. Keep it hidden from everyone else until it's polished, for all I care; it's at least written. Better than what most accomplish. Plus, writing that horrendous manuscript wasn’t nearly as painful as you thought, was it? Now you can go back through, cringe at how bad it is - or laugh at it - and pick out the few gems you want to keep. Maybe one character - despite the rushed writing - came out awesome, or a fight scene was perfect, or you really liked the twist you threw in at the end. Maybe while you were writing you found out a dark secret in your character's past that you really like. This NaNo draft lets you really discover your story. Clears out the cobwebs of all the bad stuff you were thinking. It’s panning for gold, and more often than not, you WILL find gold if you look.

Now you are ready to REALLY write, and you may actually be excited to do so as well. You’ve conquered NaNo; you can do anything now in regards to writing. You wrote a novel in a MONTH, clearly redoing it in 4months won’t be so hard.

Yes, perhaps writing daily as most do during NaNo isn’t everyone’s thing. It won’t work for everyone. It's not a catch-all that separates the "true authors" from the "wannabes". Some people will just get majorly stressed out if they attempt to write daily. It will become a chore to shove in to their already-full days, or they'll feel unproductive if they miss a day.

However, NaNo is great for that feeling, too. Having to write daily for just a month makes you work around your schedule. Maybe you wake up super early one week to get writing done. Maybe you stayed up late. Maybe you discover that lunch breaks or baby nap time is the best time of the day for you. Forcing you to change it up and write at a different time on different days helps you figure out your writing “sweet spot” - even if that “sweet spot” is simply working for 4hrs straight on Saturdays.

Plus, holing yourself up during that month really shows you who your writing support group is. Who is willing to give up socializing with you while you're on your "noble quest" to finally figure out a writing rhythm that works for you? Who is willing to help out with the kids or housework so you have your precious time to work on your novel? Who is there cheering you on and excitedly waiting for your next chapter - even if it is grade-level junk? In contrast, who is just putting you down the whole month for attempting to write? Who doesn't have faith in you or your goal to get that novel out of your head? NaNo is actually a great time to figure this out, and to soul-search to determine how to move forward in your dream to write. It's also a great time to determine if it really is something meant for you, or if it's best left as a hobby. Finally, it helps "train" your family to survive without you for an hour or two, so that if you do decide to keep this up as a professional goal they are more accustomed to the new daily - or weekly - schedule; allowing you to be more productive.

Speaking of productivity, NaNo also teaches how to catch up when it comes to your writing and writing schedule. It’s bound to happen that you’ll miss a day or two, and you’ll feel even more rushed to write more to make up for the slacking days. You find that groove and blow past the recommended 1667 words per day. Next thing you know you can either end NaNo early or skip a few days because you’ve written so much. Or you KNOW that you won’t be able to write tomorrow, so you purposely write more today.

Again, yes, writing daily isn’t a practice most people keep past NaNo, but in the process you find out what works for you and pick up on practices and skills - and people to surround yourself with - that WILL help you.

Miller doesn't seem to see this good, however. She seems determined to focus on the bad, even reaching out for people to give anecdotal evidence that NaNo is the bane of all writing existence; because we all know that anecdotal evidence and stereotyping is valid research...

Editors and agents are already flinching in anticipation of the slapdash manuscripts they’ll shortly receive. "Submitting novels in Nov or Dec?" tweeted one, "Leave NaNoWriMo out of the cover letter … or make it clear that it was LAST year’s NaNo."
Now, she does provide a valid point: don't assume your novel is print-ready simply because you hit the NaNo 50,000 word goal! However, I feel like these people are more the exception than the rule. Out of 21,000+ “winners” of NaNo, I doubt more than a couple hundred actually flood these editors; if it's really that many editors that are hit with post-NaNo manuscripts. Does she do a formal survey to see the influx? How many editors are actually flooded by these poorly-written hopefuls? How much of an increase from the daily unsolicited submissions is there? Does the quality of submissions actually drop that drastically in December and January? Maybe there's actually editors out there excited by December's possibilities. Sure, it will take a lot of coffee and migraine meds, but maybe they're excited to find the diamond in the rough that was only put down to paper thanks to NaNo. Who knows?

Plus, if these NaNo-ers are going to send unrevised manuscripts to editors after November, they’ll do it any other time too. These authors either don’t understand the purpose of an editor - to polish revised manuscripts as opposed to hand holding the writer through revisions - or they believe everything they write is perfect the first go. They’re diluted or ill-informed. Either way, NaNo just helped push them forward, not create them.

So, while it is good advice to let that bad manuscript sit for a month or so, and then go back to it - something the people from the Office of Letters and Light routinely advise - shaming ALL of NaNo and its participants for the maybe 5% that submit unrevised manuscripts is a bit harsh.

About half-way through the article, Miller even admits that she doesn’t actually write novels; she reads them. No shame in that, but at the same time, don’t put down such a great program. You don’t understand. You don’t get the struggles of writers and how NaNo helps. You don’t know how this is the equivalent to a band camp for some. You may be the only nerd in your neighborhood who likes playing the tuba, and so you’re self-conscious about it and may not practice what you love. But at band camp you have a community. They all understand your love and how you may not be the best tuba player yet, but they still cheer you on while you figure out your talent; some even assist in making you better.

It is hard for someone in the stands watching the halftime show to understand what it’s like to be a tuba player.

Still, Miller protests; simply because she seemingly feels that anything that won't eventually produce a Best Seller is ultimately a waste of time.
Nothing about NaNoWriMo suggests that it’s likely to produce more novels I’d want to read. (That said, it has generated one hit, and a big one: “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen, who apparently took the part about revision to heart.)
Yes, this - much like those people flooding the poor editors - is the exception instead of the rule. NaNo rarely produces anything that will result in an actual published work. That’s still not the point. If Miller's definition of wasted time is what it appears to be in this quote - if it won't produce a novel worth reading, it's not worth the attempt - then a lot of writers are up a creek without a paddle, because apparently lot of us are wasting our time even trying.

Miller clearly has no clue how many horrible - and probably incomplete - manuscripts hide in the desk drawers and forgotten computer files of her favorite authors. Maybe they participated in NaNo themselves just to try to get the juices flowing again. Maybe a best selling story started off as a pathetic NaNo attempt years ago, and the only thing that survived was the main character; therefore the author never mentions the character’s humble beginnings as a NaNo attempt.

Once again, let me state that NaNo is a way for people to conquer their fear and become motivated to do what they love: writing. Is an actual marathon just as much a waste of time and energy? Especially if the person never places? What if a person meant to get in to exercising, but the only way they could motivate themselves was to participate in something like a friendly community 5K; especially if they have friends who are participating and want them to as well? Sure, they may walk the whole time, come in last, or they may not even finish because they pulled something or got winded due to not being ready for a 5K. But is it still all for naught? Maybe it was just the push the person needed to keep going. Maybe after that one horribly failed 5K they are now determined to take better care of themselves so they do better next time. Maybe they spend the next year exercising and training so that they can conquer that 5K when it comes back around. Does that make that first, horribly failed marathon a waste? Even if it’s just a seasonal jumpstart - they slacked off the rest of the year, participated in the marathon, and are now back on the ball - is that a waste? Or in the other direction, maybe they dreamed of becoming a marathoner, only to discover they're just not cut out for it after a horrible showing at the 5K. Maybe they can now put that dream aside; check it off their bucket list, stop wondering "what if?" and move on with their life. It's a nice soul-searching moment. How's that a waste of time or energy?

Similarly, the fact that NaNo has spread so that places like bookstores - and in some places, libraries - have sectioned off places for participants is fantastic. It helps build a better community; helps people bond and feel connected. This is another great aspect of NaNo. Most may not “Win” NaNo, become professional writers, or even write outside of NaNo. Yet you can find great friends in the community. Friends that will stay and last. I met Chibi through NaNo’s sister program Script Frenzy, and we’ve been fast friends ever since. Hard to believe we were complete strangers just about three years ago.

You can also discover a fantastic stress reliever in writing. You can become slightly more cultured. Children can learn the joy of writing and creating; using their imaginations. There is so much potential there. So many gifts that writing can provide. Even if someone doesn't wish to become the next Great American Author, perhaps NaNo will help them discover their career path for writing the next big TV phenomenon, or Hollywood blockbuster, or the next Grammy-winner, or a Tony-winning play, or to become a courageous journalist.

I can’t say it enough: This woman just doesn’t seem to comprehend the point or importance of NaNo.

I want to give Miller credit for cringing at slogans like “Write Your Novel Here” because - while seemingly innocent and fun-provoking - they may in fact cheapen authors; making it sound like a novel is something simple that can be written in a few hours at a bookstore. The issue is that, sadly, this isn't Miller's point, or even why she felt such dismay. She just thought it was a pathetic attempt to jump on the "everyone wants to be a writer" bandwagon. Regardless of her feelings or how poorly worded the slogans are, having these spaces for people to write while surrounded by books and authors they love - great motivation to picture your book nestled next to theirs - is a fantastic way of expanding this “cultured community” Miller holds so dear.

Having these NaNo writing groups is not degrading “the cultural spaces once dedicated to the selfless art of reading” with “the narcissistic commerce of writing” like Miller claims. I mean, if she feels this way about NaNo-ers, how does she not feel the same about the authors giving her the gift to “selflessly read” in the first place? How is it that amateurs participating in NaNo are “narcissists” but published authors aren’t? That being said, how is reading “selfless”? You choose books that make you feel better, or help you improve.

A writer opens themselves up and pours their soul into a book; praying that someone like Ms. Miller will pick it up and enjoy it. It’s not about money for most of us; it’s about sharing a story that you want the world to know, or information you feel others will benefit from. Us writers are completely bare and at the mercy of these “selfless” readers. The slightest thing could push them away from reading our book, even something as stupid as not heeding the adage “don’t judge a book by its cover.”

I honestly think Miller’s confused, and it’s the READERS who are a bit narcissistic; because the book they choose is all about them: if they need that advice from a self-help book, if they like to know more about that bit of trivia, or if they want to spend some time in that world. This “narcissistic reader” concept is even verified in Miller’s article itself when she commented about how people read more “how to” books than actual novels. Why? Because readers want to improve themselves, not spend time in someone else’s world. THAT is pretty selfish and narcissistic.

Perhaps her view of the "selfless reader" and "narcissistic writer" derives from the fact that she clearly just doesn't understand writers. Either that, or the only writers she's ever paid attention to are the ones who write equally-thought-out articles online. People who are just out to get millions of hits; followers; 15minutes of fame as they go viral.
So I’m not worried about all the books that won’t get written if a hundred thousand people with a nagging but unfulfilled ambition to Be a Writer lack the necessary motivation to get the job done. I see no reason to cheer them on. Writers are, in fact, hellishly persistent; they will go on writing despite overwhelming evidence of public indifference and (in many cases) of their own lack of ability or anything especially interesting to say.
I mean, seriously! I want to know what writers she’s talking to, because all of the ones I know are terrified of not having any ability or anything especially interesting to say. They are frozen because they fear public indifference. None of the elements Miller spoke of make my writing friends persistent. No ability? Public Indifference? Not having something interesting to say? These are true, paralyzing fears that are keeping great writers from sharing their talent. Fears that stop these people from doing what they love; the thing that helps de-stress them and make them feel whole.

This woman just irks me that she so firmly believes otherwise. The writers she’s talking about are the bad ones that really shouldn’t use NaNo as a motivation tool. These are the narcissistic writers. The ones that ARE out for money, and then are shocked when it doesn’t come. The ones that “are always moaning so loudly about how hard it is.”

I am sorry, but writing IS hard. Miller writes articles and doesn’t know this? She’s an author of what appears to be a pseudo-autobiography, and yet she feels this way about writers? Again, Ms. Miller appears to be fantastic at misconstruing generalities as facts.

She claims that the endangered species in this world is readers - that’s true; sadly - but that doesn’t mean readers are both “fragile” and the ones that should be tormented by their lot. She makes it seem like readers are much tougher than writers because while they are disappearing, readers aren’t little, whiny pushovers like writers seem to be, and so they won’t make a stink about their shrinking population.

Did I miss a memo somewhere? Because last I checked, what writer ISN’T lamenting the fact that their demographic is shrinking and yet the production is growing? Why else would we be terrified that we aren’t the best writer in the world? We know we’re competing against major players for such a small audience. We KNOW we either have to make it big or we won’t make it at all.

It’s overpopulation. This is why writers are so fragile compared to the few readers that are left. We are at their mercy. They have all the power over our fate. How does THAT make readers “like Tinkerbell or any other disbelieved-in fairy”?

Miller has such a great concluding concept: why not have something similar to NaNo, but for readers to get reading back to the forefront? National Novel READING Month. I’d be 100% behind that. I remember the reading marathons we had in elementary school, and I think the Offices of Letters and Light would do great if they came up with something similar. Maybe a companion to Camp NaNo could be some sort of reading program to help kids keep up with reading over the summer, and get adults back into the habit.

Now, if only Miller spent the whole article with what she finished with: there are plenty of novels out there waiting to be read, so let’s celebrate the READERS instead of aspiring writers. She could have even prefaced with “Yes, NaNo is great, but don’t forget to read as well as write this month. Otherwise, what is the point of participating if reading is a dead art?” THAT would have been a great article.

At the very least, though, she got me thinking. I've got quite a long reading list, and I think I need to find the time to attack some of it.

What about you guys? What are your feelings on the article? Do you agree with her? What about your own reading? Anything good you're planning on cracking open next month?