It’s Coming…

Winter NaNoWriMo is Coming!!!

4428b634ae0abb5b60e6ae528ac3a557

 

 

Yes, it’s that time of year again.  I’ve even been spending more of my daily commute on NaNoWriMo.org than on Twitter/Facebook.  I’ve probably already used up all my data for the month.

 

I guess this means that it’s time to get planning.  I’m worried about NaNo this year, purely because I have been working so much lately.  I have no time for this crazy writing thing.  And we’ve planned even more pre-NaNo events this year to prep for.  Fortunately, I think I know how I want to handle at least some of them.

 

As always, we’re going to try some new things with the region this year.  I’m optimistic that they’re going to work well and make my job easier.

*pause for laughter*

No, seriously!  Okay, we’re experimenting.  But that’s what we do, to see what works for our region and what doesn’t.  I have to be positive!

 

In positive news, we’re in the process of confirming venues and dates and times and such.  It looks like it’s going to be a good turnout this year, and some of the veterans are really stepping up to the plate.  So I’m trying not to worry.

 

I just need to carve out time to work on my novel planning.  Lest I have to write this year’s novel by the seat of my pants.  That could prove interesting…

Winner… Again!

So…

I’ve been working a series of rather long hours at the day job (the price one pays for having clients 16 time zones ahead) so this will be a short update by necessity.  But guess what?!?!?!

 

 

 

 

 

Did you guess?

You didn’t, did you?

 

 

 

I’m disappointed in you all.

Seriously, though, I’m pleased to report that I finished and WON the April session of Camp NaNoWriMo on Sunday April 28.  I celebrated with my fellow Wrimotaurs at our usual restaurant haunt by purchasing and subsequently eating the entirety of a caramel brownie bacon sundae.  It was delicious: although one wouldn’t think that those flavours go together, they totally do!

 

In typical me fashion, I have done absolutely no writing since that night.  Mostly because of the aforementioned long hours.  And my weekend was completely full of social-type events.  But things are slowly growing manageable at work as I get used to 45-50 hour weeks again, along with the hour commute each way.

 

And, as fun as gaming, cleaning the entire house, shopping and prepping for a party, watching Iron Man 3, and entertaining at said party were, I’ll be glad for some quiet time.  Which is kind of the exact opposite of summer, but there you go.

 

But now that Mark and I got the spring cleaning done in advance of entertaining last night… well, there’s going to be some more time for writing in my future!

 

After I mow the lawn and get the gardens in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner

Chicken WHAT?!?!

Chicken WHAT?!?!

 Photo by Riverseal (flickr)

 

So, last week I shared how I participated in the Camp Marathon for NaNoWriMo (the NaNoThon).  Well, today I had two great pieces of news related to the NaNoThon that really made up for a long, tiring Monday.

 

Not that my day was bad or anything.  Far from it.  It was just a 10 hour day, from start to leaving work, including a 4:00 pm meeting that went until just before 6:00.  Then there was work to finish after that.  This is my normal Monday, and is the curse of working with a client that’s 15-16 hours ahead of us (4:00 our time is currently 9:00 am their time).  I’m still enjoying it and learning a lot, and hey: overtime’s alright.

 

But!  It was long and I was tired by the end of it.  So just imagine my excitement when I got home and checked the mail to find my Camp NaNo donor goodies awaiting me!  A brand new patch to add to my NaNoWriMo hoodie (that I’ll have to show you sometime).

 

Then, I checked my e-mail to learn that I was one of the lucky people that won a NaNoThon Donor Bonus prize!  So I have a Chris Baty Studios poster coming my way (which are beautiful and completely writer-themed.  It will likely be donated to my local NaNoWriMo group if it’s one I already have), along with a subscription to The Writer and an album download from Debs and Errol (which I have been listening to while writing this blog post).

 

So there you go: a rather uninspired Monday that ended up with me feeling pretty excited about NaNoWriMo stuff (we got some more good news about this year’s NaNo plans with our new partner, which I am saving for just the right moment to reveal) and life in general (a health insurance rebate cheque?  Yes please!)

 

What was the best thing that happened to you today?

 

 

 

 

 

Why do I do this to myself in the offseason?

So on Saturday, The Office of Letters and Light had their first annual Camp NaNoWriMo marathon.  Eight hours of writerly goodness interspersed with livestreams by NaNoWriMo staff, and I sat through all eight of them, which let me catch up on the writing I was behind by, and was a lot of fun.

 

But woah, was I tired by the end of it!  I don’t usually spend that much time straight working on much of anything (my day job entails a lot of getting up and talking to people) and it was mentally and physically exhausting.  Which is funny, because I’ve done 12 hour write-ins as an ML (which means being peppy and loud and organizing a bunch of people who don’t always want to be organized) and I don’t remember being that tired.  Then again, I deliberately dedicate a lot more energy to things during NaNo time so that could be throwing off my perception.  Maybe it’s just a different kind of tired.

 

It was nice spending time on what I’ve heard referred to as my “heart job” and I really like that phrase as a description of the work I feel called to do.  I can see myself spending long days like that on writing in the future, although I do think I will split the time up between writing and editing.  8,000 words in one day is excessive, even for me, to continue on an ongoing basis (note to any cyborgs who might read this – your mileage may vary).  But it will definitely be few and far between while I still work the day job (unfortunate, but a reality of life, I suppose).

 

On the plus side, said day job is going very well, and despite the 8,000 words I was behind in camp, isn’t sapping as much of my writing energy as the last job did (no, this time it was two colds in a row).  Only time will tell how things go in the future though.  The biggest thing for me is to have a good mentor/supervisor, and I have that at this job for sure.

So… This Happened

So…

DSC_0005

This happened.

 

DSC_0068 

DSC_0069

Then this happened.

 

All in all, it’s been a pretty amazing week so far (and it’s not over yet!).  Some highlights include:

  • Tea with friends new and old
  • Meeting an adorable pair of newlyweds and some newcomers at the Meet and Greet
  • Writing in a neat little bagel shop we discovered
  • Reaching my 50K in NaNo (and promptly doing nothing for 48 hours afterwards)
  • Overdosing on candy
  • Finding the perfect gift for my ML Secret Santa
  • Petting a shark and a ray
  • Eating my first sushi boat
  • Visiting the Office of Letters and Light and learning that I look great in a Viking hat
  • Watching a beautiful Pacific Octopus charm the employees of the aquarium
  • Baby Ostriches!!!
  • Dim sum in China Town
  • Meeting colourful characters on the streets of San Fran

 

Watch for more pictures and updates next week, as I’ll have more to share soon!  Tomorrow, we bike across the Golden Gate.  Wish my rear end luck (it’ll need it).  Until then?

 

Have a baby ostrich.

DSC_0094

Sorry, it’s been a while…

dreamstimefree_59647

Image from Dreamstime

 

But I have been BUSY!

 

It’s NaNo season, which around here means I’m trying to keep order at meets, frantically trying to confirm events with venues, bemoaning how they keep losing our reservation, and spending my work days overcaffinated.  Also, writing.  I have to do that somewhere in there.  At least I’m on track with my goals and the story is even starting to turn into something I kind of like.  It’s not proceeding exactly as I planned (what story ever does?), but I like some of the twists that it’s taking.  Lots to consider for the re-write.

 

NaNo is a different energy every year, and I’m still trying to figure out this year’s energy.  Personally, it’s been a year of fits and starts – I started my new job on November 5 so I spent the first four days getting my word count to 25K.  It’s a good thing that I did, because apparently working for 8 hours a day is something I am no longer used to.  But I think it’s going well.  My Project Engineer advised me to “sparkle”.  I think I can do that… where’s my glitter?

 

Seriously, the new job seems like a good move so far.  I’m learning a lot already, mostly about the specifics of the project and the team, and it’s a very exciting project to be involved with.  Fraught with challenges of the non-technical sort, of course, which is not something I’m necessarily good at solving, but I’ve done it before./  I’ll be working under a Senior Project Engineer and the Project Manager, and they both seem very reasonable to work with.  A lot like people I’ve worked with before, so I feel like I already know what they expect of me.  Right now, I’m still getting my feet wet and learning all that I can.  I get to meet the client next week!  Should be fun.

 

Anyway, you can sort of see how I’ve been busy.  Busy and tired.  And I apologize for not checking in here more regularly.  I wasn’t foolish enough to try the Epic Month of Blog posts in addition to NaNo and MLing.  I think the idea is really cool (write a blog post a day during the month of November), but I did something like it in April along with Script Frenzy, and it was too much.   So you’ll have to live with the little bit of me that you have here!

 

I promise to try and find some time next week to come back here and update you all.  I’m hoping that I won’t/shouldn’t be quite as worn out by the day job, now that I’m starting to get used to using my brain again!

Welcome to the Batcave!

… okay, not really.

 

But since NaNoWriMo is on the way, I thought I would take you on a quick tour of my writing lair/office (I prefer lair).  Mark and I have been preparing the house and our lives for November, so I actually spent the last few days tidying it up and making it workable.  I expect I will be spending a lot of time here over the next few weeks.

 

Here we go!

 

DSCF1712

My office!  From the doorway you can see (from left to right) the cat house, my shelves, my cupboard and my desk!

 

DSCF1713

A closer view of the shelves and all the books that I have (not so many as you’d think, and recently pared down) and some of my precious treasures.

 

DSCF1714

My desk, with my bulletin board of writerly motivations.

 

DSCF1715

My crafty zone (with all my knitting) and my sewing machine (mostly used for now as a holder of tea things and, apparently, my lightsabre).  Also, my filing system that needs a better home.

 

DSCF1716

And my cleverly hidden printer and writing books!  The drawers are filled with more craft stuff and other things that still need a home.

 

And that’s my lair!  I hope you like it as much as I do.

Preparing for NaNo

dreamstimefree_12365

Image from Dreamstime

 

A lot of people prepare for NaNoWriMo.  I do as well, only my preparations are a little bit different from everyone else’s.

 

Of course, I plan a novel to write.  I didn’t use to (when I started NaNo, I was a committed pantser) but I’ve learned recently that NaNo is much easier with a plan firmly in place.  Shockingly, that’s the easy part of preparing for NaNo.

 

Yes, I just called planning an entire novel “easy”.

 

For me, the hard part is getting ready for my Municipal Liaison duties.  As an ML, I work with a good friend to plan various and sundry local events, write and send out weekly pep-filled e-mails, and generally act as a cheerleader for the local group of crazies… I mean writers.  No matter how well we plan, it’s exhausting and usually knocks me out for most of December (I recover just in time for Christmas!)  But I wouldn’t change it for the world!

 

I don’t want to talk a lot about what’s going on this year, because I know some local Wrimos read this blog and I don’t want to spoil them just yet, but here’s a general schedule for what we do to prepare.

 

 

July – start to get excited: only three months to go!

 

August – get together and plan approximate event dates and locations, working around work schedules, my trip to San Francisco, and other time constraints.  There are six major (newcomer’s night, kickoff, midnight kickoff, midway bash, twelve-hour, and TGIO – Thank Goodness It’s Over) and eight minor (weekly write-ins) events, as well as eight online events.  That works out to nineteen events in thirty days (not including kickoff, newcomer’s night, and TGIO, which happen in other months.  And that’s a small load for a region of our size.

 

September – Order stickers for the locals, brainstorm ideas for the yearly theme, and start on any prep work that we can do.  This includes the “survival kit”/goody bag for kickoff, pre-writing as much of the weekly e-mails as we can, planning the midway craft, brainstorm fundraising ideas, ‘standard’ forum posts that always go up, posters, press releases, etc.  Of course, here’s when we start to confirm with venues and beg for space that we need, prizes for TGIO attendees and superstars, and generally begin to freak out.

 

October – Pray that stickers arrive in time.  Wash hideous yellow ML shirt (I would include a picture, but it’s not photographable.  Seriously, you’ll thank me for this).  Finalize dates with all venues.  Finalize all written information.  Print out what needs to be printed and put together goody bags, craft supplies, and all necessary other goodies and supplies.  Try not to panic.  Host newcomer’s night and prepare for kickoff.  Host kickoff.  Prepare for midnight kickoff, and get ready for another wild ride!

 

November – I cannot describe NaNoWriMo to you.  It’s a month filled with joy, sorrow, stress, creativity, inspiration, perspiration, and general insanity that can only be experienced.  In my case, I will be spending a week in San Francisco for the annual “Night of Writing Dangerously” write-a-thon/fundraiser for NaNoWriMo.  I’ll return the night before our twelve-hour event.  Yes, I am completely insane.

 

December – Host TGIO.  Try to find any remaining energy to be peppy.  Sleep for two weeks.  Wake up and prepare for Christmas.

 

 

And that’s it.  Then I rest for eight more months and start the whole crazy process over again.  It’s a wild ride, but the day I have to quit being an ML, I’m pretty sure wild horses will be involved.  A whole herd.  With the requisite thundering and snorting and pawing of hooves.

 

Anyway, there will be more NaNoWriMo information incoming as we get closer to the month.  I’ll try not to be too boring but it’s about to consume my life for the next few weeks.

 

T-45 days until NaNoWriMo!  Are you ready?

 

What do you do to prepare for NaNo?  Any MLs care to weigh in on their process (or lack thereof)?

 

Camp NaNoWriMo: Take Two

Well, here we go again.  I’ve signed up for the second season of “camp” this year, because I’m just not crazy enough, apparently.  I’m doing things a little differently this time though, and I’ll explain why.

 

After seven years, I don’t have any problem pounding out 50,000 words in a month.  In fact, it’s gotten so (relatively) easy that I decided to volunteer to organize events for local wrimos, partly to keep myself challenged, but mostly because I enjoy the community so very much.

 

The problem with this is that the words I pound out are not good words.  It’s something that I’ve come to accept and embrace, but it becomes frustrating when it’s time to edit.  The last two times I’ve committed to the challenge, I have had a very detailed plan for the novel I was about to write.  This worked well, in a way, but the speed I was writing at pulled me away from the pace that I was trying to set for my novel.  Also, I found that I kind of missed the flexibility of “pantsing” (writing by the seat of my pants) that leads to all kinds of fun changes and interesting plot twists during the month.

 

What I’m attempting to do for this month of camp is to plan a novel.  I’ll be using the Snowflake method and letting abandon run wild!  Instead of 50,000 words my goal will be to plan for 50 hours or to finish the snowflake (whichever comes first).  If all goes well, I’ll be writing this novel during NaNo (or possibly early in 2013).

 

And now, to celebrate the start of camp, I’m actually camping with some very good friends and fellow writers.  I’ll see you back in this space next week!

Book Review: “Water for Elephants” (****/5)

74231_gal

 

I received Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen as a gift earlier in the year.  Unfortunately, my life being what it is, it sat for a while before I finally picked it up.  I thought it would make a nice light camping read and, being a published NaNoWriMo novel, might inspire me to work extra hard on my own writing.

 

Unfortunately, it had rather the opposite effect.  By which I mean that I spent the entirety of the first day camping reading it.  I finished it quickly and read it again before the weekend was out.

 

At it’s heart, Water for Elephants is a love story.  There are darker undertones, though, of desperation, hatred, abuse, and greed.  It is a remembrance of things past, where perhaps the brighter spots are a little brighter and the darker spots a little darker than they might truly have been.  It is a truly visual story that leaves a mark on the reader: superficial at first, but eventually a deeper statement of love and compassion.

 

The story starts with a death – a murder.  The victim: a character that we feel no sympathy for and quickly learn to hate.  The perpetrator?  Well, that’s left a little bit ambiguous.  The mystery of the opening is soon pushed by the wayside as we live the memories of Jacob Janowski, a ninety-three year old circus veterinarian.  Alone and with nothing, young Jacob gives up his dream and inadvertently runs away with the circus.  There, he falls in love with the equestrian star, Marlena, a love that he must hide from her cruel husband.  But things grow even more complicated when the elephant Rosie joins the menagerie and Jacob finds himself trying to protect his two loves from the cruel force that seems intent on dooming them both.

 

The setting of the novel is vibrant and alive – it’s clear Gruen did her research.  It was that setting that really kept me engaged: I’ve heard that setting should be treated as a character, and this one definitely had a life of its own.  From the Depression-damaged towns to the sleazy sideshow and “cooch tent” to the glamours of the performer cars and a speakeasy, I truly felt present in the moment.

 

The interactions between the characters were equally believable, if occasionally a little flat and predictable.  The overall mystery of the murder and its fallout, as well as the side plots involving the injured Camel, older Jacob’s desire to visit the local circus, and the mystery that is Walter the clown kept me turning pages well into the time I should have been writing myself.

 

Water for Elephants is a thoughtful book, that I was able to read twice in quick succession and still glean more from it the second time.  I think it might be one of those rare books that only improves on re-visiting, although I will have to read it again to be sure.  I look forward to it.