ROW80/NaNoWrimo/Thanksgiving Post

This is sort of an all-encompassing post for a number of the things I am involved with this month. I’ll try to address them in some sort of order, but as I was sick as hell all weekend long (and still recovering) the path my damaged neurons attempt to take may make no sense whatsoever. Alternatively, it may only make sense to David Lynch, hard core fans of his movies, or those who have recently gone off of their medications. Understand there will be some overlap with those groups.

ROW80

My real goal here was to write every day. In that aspect I stumbled. I caught the zombie death flu. You know the one, it’s the variant where once your sinuses finally start clearing you’ll sneeze out the body mass of a young adult lemur. It makes for fun around the office. On the bright side, nobody bothers you once you make it back to the office. I’m surprised they haven’t put up police line tape across my office door.

Silver Lining – The silver lining here is the illness allowed me the opportunity to take a break during that part of the book. We’re all familiar with that part of the book. It’s the one where you start to slow down and look at everything you’re regurgitating up onto the virtual page for the bile-soaked awfulness it is. You question why you started this. You question taking English as a major twenty five damned years ago. Most of all, you question including naughty scenes in your book when you are writing a first person point of view and your main character is a 20-something year old LA hotel heiress. Oh yeah, that’s going to go over well – like Velcro seams in a hot air balloon.

My break allowed me to get that out of my system and realize this is the first draft of my WIP. Those blue scenes don’t have to make the final cut. They can be replaced with scenes I skimmed past or didn’t dedicate enough prose to. Or I can ask one of the plethora of erotica authors I know to look at the naughty bits and tell me what I’m doing wrong there. End result is reminding myself that all first drafts suck. Shakespeare probably looked at that first draft of Romeo and Juliet and said, “Verily the prose bids one the visage of a pile of dung behind the squires horse in a knight’s parade.” Or something like that, it has been a while.

NaNoWriMo

This is pretty well covered in the ROW80 section. I am now behind in my word count. At the same time I am looking at a long weekend with plenty of writing time. My amount of write-ins has decreased due to being sick and not sleeping through any night… ever. Seriously I am sleeping less now than I did as a newborn. How is that even possible? Then again, with the holiday weekend upon us and me totally not being a Black Friday shopper the coffee shops will be mine!

For some reason this year is feeling a lot more isolated that it has in previous years. Less people are making it to the write-ins, most people have their favorite places to go to and stick to them, and less people are traveling outside of their comfort zone to engage other writers. Hell, I met up with one at a book signing and for all I know that could be the only reason he made it out to any at all. Of course I overslept and didn’t make it to Java Cat this morning, so who knows if he’ll keep coming out.

Considering the solitary life of the author, the settling in of a favorite location for writing and isolation from outside influences makes sense. This just shows that I am an oddity among the eccentrics – I use November to get out there and find new writing spots and meet other new authors in the area. Even among my people I am strange.

GISHWESH

So as if I wasn’t busy enough I got involved with the world’s largest scavenger hunt. For the record I blame Megan Hart – she talked me into it. Which is to say she posted a tweet saying she was doing it and people should join her so they can have a set team. Ironically while I was placed on a team with a number of her friends, Megan isn’t on my team. Apparently they put a bunch of her friends on one team together and her on another.

This involves going out and getting photos or video of weird stuff. What kind of weird stuff, you say? Well, like getting a member of the cast of Supernatural, Vampire Diaries and a couple other shows to take a photo wearing a Justin Beiber shirt. My personal favorite is getting an email from Jared Padalecki stating, “I am Misha’s bitch.” While I don’t know how I would obtain that, a tweet and a small wait later produced this…

Now aside to the obvious awesomeness of this image, allow me to explain something for those of you not as familiar with Supernatural as I. Yes, this is Amber Benson who played Tara on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. No, Buffy wasn’t one of the shows listed in the challenge. However, in an odd juxtaposition she did play a vampire in two episodes of Supernatural. And yes, her character was one of the few vampires in that universe that was not hunting down, killing and eating people. The closest thing to Angel and Spike the show has seen.

Furthermore, Amber Benson is a published author as well as an actor, director, etc. That image up there, that secures her as one of my favorite contemporary authors. Should you feel moved to help me in showing your appreciation (and are a reader of urban fantasy) go forth and purchase Death’s Daughter or any of the subsequent books in the Calliope Reaper-Jones series. You can even find if you search hard enough a video of her and Pat Rothfuss doing a dramatic reading from one of the books. The video and story behind it are hilarious and well worth the effort.

The Gratitude Experiment

One of my author friends has been doing a gratitude experiment this month. Each day she has been posting what she is grateful or thankful for. I decided to pick it up halfway through the month and run with it. Since then I have noticed how many of those include coffee, caffeine in general, and Advil Liquigels. This probably says quite a bit about me. Today is different though. Today is a bit more thoughtful.

Yesterday I heard through another author I am following on Twitter about the passing of Anne McCaffery. As a young reader I found her books hard to get into. I didn’t learn to appreciate them until later. That said, her writing and life is inspiring. There is no doubt in my mind that the literary world was struck a tremendous blow yesterday. This led me to what I am grateful for today.

Today I am grateful for those published and established authors that have inspired me and made me feel like I made the right choice in working on my writing the last couple of years. My treatment has run the gambit of a mentor/student situation, a novice/adviser scenario, to some new friends in my chosen field. My first dedicated writing convention I was made to feel like a person trying to break into the business and not so much of a fanboy. When you come from a life of gaming, anything that limits the social awkwardness is a blessing. I will never be able to return the gift these fine people have given me, but some day I hope to be in a position where I can pass the gift on to the next person making it to their first writing convention.

For those of you more familiar with me, the above is probably the sappiest thing you have seen from me in a long time (if not ever). Allow me to put it back into perspective for you. People who were treating me like friends were generally picking on me and engaging in playful banter back and forth. Yes, sitting around and busting each others balls is totally what friends do. You say dysfunctional, I say home. 😉

If you are more concerned with specifics, look at my lists of favorite titles. Many of them correlate to the people I feel a stronger kinship towards. Or just ask. Y’all know how much I hate to shoot the shit.

With Thanksgiving coming up, what are you most thankful for?

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November 6th – Week One NaNoWriMo

With the first week of NaNoWriMo behind me, I give you all my goals for the month of November:

  1. Write something every day. No matter how small. (Added for Wednesdays and Weekends)
  2. Write 2k each day on average, pushing through extra on good days to help cover Wednesdays.
  3. Still maintain Wednesday Encounters at the game store. (Luckily my Sunday game went on hiatus due to school.)
  4. Finish reading Modelland for #damnedbook online book club. (Harder than it sounds)
  5. Complete the Urban Fantasy class online being taught by Jeanne Stein.

So far for the month I am…

  • At just under 17k for the month. Should hit around 20k by the end of Monday the 7th.
  • 40 or so pages into Modelland (which I think breaks the terms of some Human Rights Law somewhere…)
  • Finished the Q&A/Answers on the first two sections of class.
  • Held the NaNoWriMo Launch Party.
  • Ran Encounters last week.
  • Made enough food for containers to have lunches/dinners most of the week.
  • Watched Walking Dead and Dexter (these are sort of hard coded into the list)

Not quite a Wednesday post…

Okay, so it isn’t really Wednesday, but look back to my last post. It isn’t Sunday. Of course this post is only partially a #ROW80 post… it’s really more of a NaNoWriMo post. I have read several authors opinions on NaNo and totally understand where they are coming from. What I am offering here is my explanation as to why I continue to do NaNo. But that is putting the cart before the horse, the rifle before the bullet… the zombie before the machete.

Goals for this week are coming along. I wanted to be completely done with my outline by now, but I am far enough along that I know I will be ready by the weekend. Once it is completely done I am going to jump into research mode and collect up any past research and add on any new research I know I will need. (I mean what kind of LA socialite knows what a pair of Jimmy Choo’s look like, but can’t name the dress that girl is wearing?) My tech reading is coming along, starting with the chapters that relate to what I am doing in my Day Job™. (HTML5 and div tags, for those interested.) And I have made arrangements for a NaNoWriMo Launch Party in my region. The Municipal Liaison for Madison is on vacation, and apparently event planning is in my blood. At the very least, I can come up with a budget location in a short time frame.

With a listing of my short term goals out of the way, allow me to explain to myself as well as any of you reading one of the real reason I continue with NaNoWriMo – the people. Honestly, its the community atmosphere of the event that keeps me returning. It has been the only thing in the past 12 years that has kept me from smelling the crisp, moist November winds in Wisconsin and thinking hunting season. These days if I miss a hunting season, I know I will be spending the time drinking coffee and writing surrounded by a subsection of my “peeps.” And not the funny shaped marshmallow kind, either.

The reason that I bring this up is a discussion I had last night with a friend that stuck with me. This friend really stuck with me due to NaNoWriMo even though we shared common friends. (In other words, he is a gamer in this city as well.) It is not every gamer that I would do a caravan down to Indy for GenCon with, and not just any writer either. For his part, James will be participating this year. I would love to maneuver our Writing Group night to accommodate for him as well, but we have a fairly established night (that conflicts with his established game night). November seems to be our time to hang out though.

There are rumors of other casualties though. Specifically one friend new to the NaNo experience tells me that Dale (a staple in NaNo for as long as I can remember) is not only very busy this year, but has not met the 50k goal the last couple years. I understand the lack of progress causing one to consider if this is the tool for you, but somehow the idea of the lack of her at our write-ins this next year makes it not seem like November. Last year we discussed write-ins throughout the year and never really followed through with that. Maybe we can change this in the coming year.

James also tells me that Glynis won’t be participating this year, which will seem odd as well.  A couple years back, she was the one that added to the spot I was at in my story the line:

And then he saw the goblin in the corner.

She did this while I was in the bathroom and when I came back just said to go with it. It led to some very disturbing scenes as I was writing a zombie horror story that year. That kid in the mask never stood a chance. I did kind of call her the Goblin Queen after that. But have you seen Labyrinth? If Bowie was the Goblin King, then the Goblin Queen can’t be all that bad right? Also, James and her met at NaNo. Either that or at an MATC writing class and then again at NaNo. It just lends itself to some nostalgia is all. Honestly I am pretty sure we might see her at a write-in or two even if not participating, which for me is the real question.

What it boils down to is the sense of community. It is a sense of getting together more than once a month to sit around and talk about “the craft”, brainstorm up story ideas, discuss anthologies or publications that have opened submissions, and in general act like a writer. I look forward to seeing these people. I get a giddy sense of anticipation the week before November 1st arrives. With Halloween and NaNo hitting in rapid succession, this is my version of Christmas morning. And even if I haven’t managed to get published in the last year, it is a real treat for me to find out who among our fellow NaNos has… and then go buy their book.

For me November is about far more than football, turkey dinners and deer hunting. It’s about writing, friends and supporting our local authors – published and unpublished.

Public Authorin’

For this past Sunday I posted my goals met with setting up my laptop replacement in the iPod. The reason for it is so that I can do remote writing, public authorin’, or whatever you feel like calling it. I assure you that this is not another “Neil Gaiman’s Gazebo” instance, but a needed and necessary tool for getting my job done. You know, everyone works different and all that. But fear not, I will back this up with evidence.

I live in a 1600+ square foot condo. Two bedrooms and a den. Plenty of places to write, right? Assume that my twenty year old son will leave me be to do my writing (which he likely will), and that leaves my other distractions.

My wife (when she is home and not at work or staying in Milwaukee to lighten the driving time) is one of those people that needs to be doing something. If there is something on television she’s not into, she’ll find something to do. Often enough what she finds to do can be loud. Television is not that big of a deal. Most of the time I am watching something on the DVR and can pause it or come back to it. Writing… not so easy to pause. In her defense she hasn’t really interrupted me while writing since the last time I mentioned it to her. To help this out I have adopted public authorin’.

My dog on the other hand is not nearly so understanding. He’s an old dog, so most of the time he is content to just sit there and snore while I am visit the crazy talking people in my head. But if he get’s it in his noodle he wants to get up and go outside he wants to do it… NOW! Don’t get me wrong, he is a smart dog. Part of me though wants to believe he is getting doggie dementia in his old age, because if not him looking at me and barking constantly while I am putting on my shoes to take him out means that he is a real asshole of a dog.

Then again it is possible that he has taken to messing with me. For his entire life when we went to bed he would come upstairs and sleep in our bedroom. Before our son became a teenager, he slept in his. When met with a closed door he would turn around and head to our room – which has been the last five years or so. While we had the Italian student staying with us, he took to sleeping in the living room. Since Mike was sleeping in the den, he felt the need to sleep in the living room. Now that he is back in Italy, it’s like he splits time. But that isn’t the worst…

Several times a week the dog will come upstairs and stand outside the bedroom door. The worst was when the door was open a crack and instead of nudging it open and coming in (as he has done in the past) he just peeked in from the crack. You could almost hear him saying, “Heeeeeeere’s Johnny!” Every time he does this though he simply stares at us for a while, turns around and goes back downstairs. It’s like if Paranormal Activity was produced by Animal Planet. Creepy damned dog.

The standing answer (more so than my dog’s new found creeper ways) is that I can concentrate more in a coffee shop than I can at home. My wife has no idea how I can write with the blenders going and such. Honestly, it shocks me a bit too. The key is that none of the people or things going on in the coffee shop matter to me. Add that to having a limited amount of my stuff along with me to distract me and the words flow. Well, that and that dog just creeps me out sometimes.

Back on the ROW Path

Although I missed the Wednesday update, I am happy to say that the goals are back on track better than I could have hoped for. Which is to say that the iPad that was scheduled to reach my door on the 19th arrived Wednesday. I arranged to have my mother (who is retired) come to my condo and wait to sign for the package. Even with being stuck at work all day Thursday and a condo association meeting most of Thursday night, I was still able to have the iPad set up and working by Friday.

Our new wireless printer also came in which I can print to right from the iPad. I couldn’t have asked for a better setup. This means I can print manuscripts right from the iPad to take to my writing group without having to juggle it through Dropbox. I’ll still have to do that come time for editing and revising, but that was to be expected.

Also, I found a link to Storyist for the Mac or more specifically the Storyist iPad app on the NaNoWriMo site. Aside from the fact that I do not have a Mac and just got the iPad, I can’t really come up with a reason I had not seen this before. Even in the blog post from Chuck Wendig that made me first consider using this as my laptop replacement, he hadn’t been able to list any apps with potential like Scrivener. Of course my setup is slightly different than his.

iPad2 32GB – Originally I was thinking the 16GB – hell, originally I was thinking the iPad 16GB. The faster processing in the new ones convinced me to get the newer model. Being that I was going to be spending the money on the newer model, it made sense to get the 32GB version for the room to grow. The 64GB version just seemed excessive. (No matter what my brother-in-law says.)

Apple Wireless Keyboard – Chuck used a “camera adapter” to connect a USB keyboard, but the wireless one not only eliminates any dangling cords for remote usage, it also minimizes power draw on the unit as well as gives me a lower profile peripheral to take out with me to the coffee shop.

Leather Smart Cover – I wasn’t too thrilled about spending more on the leather cover vs. the poly-carbonite-unobtanium one, but the leather covers have decent colors. The pastels of the affordable covers makes your iPad look like a flattened Easter egg. What the smart cover does as well as… uh… cover the damn thing… is roll into a small wedge that will act as an stand for you. This eliminates the need to throw a metal one in your case that will get you stopped by TSA. Every time.

A/V Adapter – This HDMI converter is the one truly frivolous thing I picked up. Don’t get me wrong, I will totally use it to display on our HD TV from the iPad, but the real idea to pick this up came from a party where we were trying to display a slideshow on a television from someone’s iPad. We had no way to do it, so were left with damn near 20 people huddled around a tablet.

HP Wireless Color Laser Printer – Really this is something for our office, not really portable. But I cannot express how happy I was when I found out I could print directly from the iPad. Seriously. I had to get a mop.

Currently my apps include a Facebook app (mildly annoyed with it), a Twitter app (works great), Dropbox, Get Glue (a whim during Walking Dead), the Nook app and the Storyist app. This gives me access to 95% of the things I will likely ever need on the iPad. The Nook app I don’t even really need, but is nice to have if I ever am traveling and only want to bring one unit with me. Not sure if the backlit screen will be as nice for long term reading as the Nook itself.

Grand total cost of apps – $9.95 otherwise known as the cost of the Storyist Software.

I even took to using the Notes feature for taking notes during our local RWA meeting on Saturday (even though we are no longer going to be a chapter of the RWA), and used Storyist to start character profiles and pencil in the start of an outline for my November project.

So on the goals, my laptop has been cleaned up and given over to my step-daughter. The printer will follow eventually now that we have the wifi one set up. My short story has been finished and “put to bed” so that I can work unhindered on the November large scale manuscript. The iPad is set and ready to go with remote writing (which I REALLY need to do again). So everything is on track. For this next couple of weeks I am going to complete the critique and review I have sitting in my “Inbox” as well as complete character profiles and an outline for the November project. This includes every weekday going to a coffee shop and writing for my research or a blog post.

Next entry… the story behind my “Remote Writing” agenda.

ROW 80 – Post 2

It seems that real life is kicking me in the shins already. That’s right, I am already adjusting short term goals. But honestly, not too badly and I hear that is the nature of ROW80 – identify when real life gets in the way and adjust.

My short story I was finishing is completed, but not in the hands of any readers. With all of us working towards getting ready for NaNo and no set deadline (in other words, no set direction for submission) on it, the story can wait until we are back on our set critique schedule in my writing group.

The iPad is a different story. It is ordered, but the expected ship date is the 18th. Probably due to me taking advantage of the free engraving they offer on them. I figured with more people at work getting them, best to have an easy way to identify mine. Of course a zombie skin would do the same thing, but… uh… free. So I won’t have the new mobile computing device set up this week, but I will have it long before NaNo starts. Also, I bribed my friend from the Apple store to come over for dinner and give me and my wife a tutorial on it (like the one he was giving in the store the other day). I could probably figure it out having had a smart phone the past couple of years, but my wife is getting one at work and loves to figure out all the fun stuff to do right away.

I have also been meeting my goal of simplifying life a bit. My condo has excellent walk in closets. At the same time, my wife keeps more clothes than I do. She is more corporate administration than I will ever be, so this makes sense. Of course that also means that I have somewhere around half the space she does in our closet. Our son even lost a shelf/bar in his to costumes she’s saved. Honestly my wardrobe is the same dozen or so t-shirts, six or so dress/denim shirts and several pairs of jeans. I have a few ties and a suit, but really most of what I am wearing are the t-shirts, jeans and denim shirts with the odd hoodie or flannel for the winter months.

How is this simplifying? I went through my closet space this weekend and threw out (donated actually) anything I haven’t worn in over a year. Seasonal and it just hasn’t gotten cold enough (in other words flannels that I use as my winter jacket), I kept it. Otherwise, it went into the donation bag. That left me more than enough room to hang all of my dress shirts and denim shirts (which I used to not do), set up shelf space for zombie related t-shirts as well as non-zombie shirts and pants. I even had a small space left to hang the ten or so Badger shirts I have for the sidelines – not that I’m on the sidelines anymore.

You may think this has little to do with writing, but in reality it does. Simplifying life, making my morning routine easier and uncluttering my space all works towards uncluttering my mind. It will also serve to keep my wife happy as November is traditionally a month for when I am there physically, I may not be there mentally. More so than usual.

I also started reading an anthology to review for Wicked Little Pixie that features some local authors. It also features a character from one of my favorite vampire books in contemporary literature even though the anthology is about ghost hunters. When I had time to sit down and concentrate (and had the space to bust out the red pen) I worked on a critique on a short story serial. If you want to pick up part one of the story (for free), head on over to Megan Hart’s blog for the download.

Round of Words in 80 Days

The Journey is one that includes NaNoWriMo (for good or for ill), but this time around I am going to wrap up NaNo into the Round of Words in 80 Days project. My goal for this 80 days is to complete a full sized novel and work through one pass of edits and rewrites. I am figuring first draft of 85-100k by the middle of December.

Don’t get me wrong, I love NaNoWriMo and I will totally still be participating in it. But at the same time I need something longer term. I don’t want a 50k first draft that never sees print. Hell, how many NaNos even print out all the pages of their manuscript? I want to finish a spec manuscript for my chosen genre and get a first pass of editing so I have something with real potential. Realistically that is a goal that will take more than 30 days.

With this being the first post of this round of ROW80, my goal has been met for this Wednesday. I threw my hat in the ring and set the destination. For my Friday post I am shooting for having my Hope-Apocalyptic short story complete in both forms (1st and 3rd person versions) and in the hands of my critique partners here locally. Ultimately my goal is to have this done before Supernatural on Friday night. I got me some Winchesters to watch.

By next Wednesday my goal is to have everything from my old laptop (that I am cleaning off for my step-daughter to have) set up on my new desktop and ready to go. By next Friday I will have my iPad in and set up for remote writing, have my documents backed up for access from the desktop or the iPad and cleared any lingering story ideas from “the queue” so that I can start outlining the ROW80 project and have it ready to go (all outlining and research done) for the November 1st start of NaNoWriMo.

Ambitious? Probably. Insane? Most definitely. Something I feel after this past year that I really need to do? Exactly.

Ultimately the final End Game is to take this project for sale at either the next RT, or similar writing convention. Although honestly I am thinking Authors After Dark in New Orleans is going to be the convention next year. I may just have to query agents separate from conventions. But that is next session of ROW80.