Monday, November 23, 2015

20 Things to Do INSTEAD of Working on Your Novel: A Complete Guide to Procrastination (and gifs, because, gifs)

Just in case you didn't know:
It is November 23.
I'm not ready to part from 2015, people.

Thanksgiving is on Thursday. And NaNoWriMo is over in one week. I have not yet reached the 30K mark.
I am finally sitting somewhere that is A. Not work, or B. Not a car, so I really have no excuse for not writing. But if you're like me, and you're looking for reasons to procrastinate, here are some tips from a Master* (Note: I have tried every single one of these, and they are guaranteed to work)

1. Write a Blog Post

You sit down, flex those writing fingers, turn on some music to set the mood, and . . . you can't remember what you were writing. It's all gone. Your plot, your characters, what are words? Before you panic, you can always stretch that writer's brain by writing a blog post. You'll end up with a page full of writing, and feel a sense of achievement. So maybe none of it was your novel, but you did something productive! Give yourself a pat on the back, writer.

2. Read a Book, or Three

It's American Thanksgiving this week - which might mean a day or two off from work! Time for food and family, or even writing . . . or you could just read one of those delightful shiny books that are already written for you! Imagine that?

3. Go to a Book Event

If you are feeling down about your book, I highly recommend going to watch another author talk about how wonderful it was to see their book in print. I had the (incredible) privilege of going to the final event of Marissa Meyer's Winter Tour** - and it was so much fun! Hearing her talk about her books and her characters made me want to write, and I really would have - if I hadn't had to drive home!

4. Go on a Roadtrip

Whether it's books on tape, or just a playlist of your favorite writing tracks, you can think about your book a lot if you have to spend several hours in the car. Or you could just listen to 4 straight hours of K-pop for no apparent reason.*** I did one of those things while I drove down to Tennessee on Sunday.

5. Go Outside and Enjoy the Bizarre November Sunshine****


There's nothing like a little fresh air to jumpstart that creative writer's brain. Go walk outside and talk over your plot problems with a bosom friend. You may not get anything on paper, but you'll feel refreshed.

6. Watch Death Note

Death Note was an anime I never watched, but heard a ton about. Mostly about how incredible it was. So, naturally, I ignored it. But when I was too tired to write, I started watching Death Note instead, entirely on a whim. From the fascinating moral quandaries, to the great plotting and pacing, it's one of the most interesting distractions I've ever come across. And it inspired some great discussions!

7. Work on Christmas Presents

I don't decorate for Christmas until after Thanksgiving - but since I like to make handmade Christmas presents, I usually start those a few months in advance. Or at least, I try to. But I take it a little more seriously by November. And just look at all those half-finished projects you could be doing!

8. Take a Nap

Snoopy has it right. Sometimes you just need to curl up and take a nap. Scientists and other knowledgeable people also recommend it. And who argues with Snoopy and science?

9. Go Grocery Shopping

After three weeks of NaNo-ing hard, that pantry and fridge are starting to look bare. And as much as you love instant ramen, it isn't the healthiest choice. An no one needs to subsist on tea alone.

10. Sort All Those Emails Sitting In Your Inbox

And consider unsubscribing to the 2.5 thousand newsletters that are trying to get you to buy things.

11. Cook a Gourmet Meal

Remember #9 had you at the store? Well, there were a lot of Thanksgiving sales, and now you have too many ingredients. Google is your friend: just type in what you have, and then make something awesome.

11. Wash the Dishes

Trust me, you'll feel better if you have a clean working environment. Even if you're not writing in the kitchen. Just because you can't see the pile of dishes, it doesn't mean they're not there.

12. Scroll Through Your Twitter Feed

#amwriting #NaNoWriMo #noamrlywritingsrsly #stahp . . .

13. Or If You're Not Into Twitter, There's Instagram

Looking at everyone's vacation photos, food snaps, or book hauls strategically placed to look incredible, might make you feel like writing about your own far off adventure?

14. Facebook? Tumblr?

Hey, you never know where an idea might come from.

15. Let's Not Forget Pinterest

Because sometimes, pinning pictures to my book themed boards ACTUALLY helps. As long as I don't get too distracted . . .

16. And Catching Up On Your Favorite Blogs is Always a Good Idea

Writer-bloggers usually have something very useful for you to read.

17. Work

I can't write at work. However, I am off of work today. But there's a lot of other kinds of work that I need to finish (reviews with a deadline, for example). I need to do these things. Really.

18. Play a Board Game

It's good for your brain. And it's something you can do with your relatives, if you're at a loss this week.

19. Research

This is a very useful thing to do, and it always makes you seem so studious and focused. So if you sit down to write, and nothing happens - you can always look up that rare strain of bacteria. Just don't blame me if after five hours of research, you're reading about someone's scheme to rehydrate deserts.

20. Write a Different Novel

Because words on the page are words on the page. Even if they aren't on the same page.

Need more ideas? Too bad - I'm going back to writing my novel, :)

How is your November going? If you're doing NaNo, how is your word count?

*Not to brag, or anything, but I am really good at procrastinating.
**The book event was masquerade ball themed! It was worth missing two days of writing. And Marissa Meyer was fabulous to listen to :) (Author of The Lunar Chronicles)
***To be honest, I don't even know how we ended up with the K-pop. I've never really listened to it before. Okay, other than this Shinhwa song/video. But it's strangely mesmerizing.
****Bizarre for Michigan. Michigan November usually means pouring rain, and then loads of snow, or both. So I wanted to spend as much time outside as possible.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Beautiful Books# 2 Gif-tastic NaNoWriMo Edition Part II

Well, as any glance at my blog will tell you, I've been pretty much silent for the last week. That's all thanks to NaNoWriMo (and work), and the fact that I was house-sitting for my parents all last week as well :) I also caught up on some reading (and there are reviews to come!)

Anyhow, I saw that Sky and Cait had the BP/BB post up and thought a little break from both work and NaNo (well, sort of) might do my overtired brain some good. If you'd like to join in with this awesome monthly feature for writers, check out the details here.

My NaNo project is a dark comedy/mystery/ alternative history with the tiniest spice of terror, and I've tentatively titled it The Butler Did It. And if you'd like to read more about it and the main characters, check out my other Beautiful Books link here.

Beautiful Books #2: NaNoWriMo Continues

1. Is the book turning out how you thought it would be, or is it defying your expectations?

Well, it's going along a little more smoothly than I thought it might. I seem to have unearthed a surprising depth to some of my characters, and my themes have gotten more complex. At any rate, I haven't resorted to flying monkey ninjas yet, so I think I'm okay.

2. What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

I am skipping the little "note on the world," the prologue letter, and the urgent telegram insinuating an attack on a bleak Siberian base here to give you the *actual* first 3 unedited lines of the book (Which I have not looked at till now in fear that I will despise every word, as is my custom):

"Blood and death were not supposed to follow you into the Citadel. Was that not the reason the Citadel had been built in the first place - to protect us from the darkness outside? Was that not why the walls soared for hundreds of feet above us, keeping us safe from whatever shadows roamed in the night?"
Of course you're not safe, you complacent characters you - this book is about murder and mayhem, and manners, and monsters, and many other things.

3. Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you ever tried both methods and how did it turn out?

Neither - I'm a shifting, adaptable, whimsical writer. I have tried both methods though. Neither one worked better for me. Basically, I'm at my story's mercy - for example, the first time I did NaNo, I did a hardcore schedule/outline/research thing for the two months, and then ended up writing something completely different (which I finished). Last year, I started out will a silly premise, intending to wrap things up easily, and ended up with an epic post-apocalyptic parody that I'm still plugging away at.

4. What do you reward yourself with after meeting a goal?

There are rewards (other than words on a manuscript)? 
Can we take a moment to appreciate the level of skepticism in this gif? Thank you.

Actually, I tend to be a workaholic who refuses to take time off unless I'm forced to. This goes into my writing habits too. But if I get ahead in my manuscript, I'll watch a silly movie or read a few chapters of a fun book to give my brain a vacation.

5. What do you look for in a name? Do you have themes and where do you find your names?

I'll spare you by posting this necessary quote in the footnotes*
Picture Source
Anyhow, a rose by any other name might smell like a rose, but I don't think I could take it seriously if it was called a wild donkey cabbage, you know? Likewise, I still can't take Peta (Hunger Games, you know, that one) seriously because he is a baker's boy named after BREAD (Spelling is a technicality). 

Names are extremely important to me/my characters. I either spend hours agonizing over the exact combination of sounds/meanings, or have them pop out of my head fully formed like Athena. No exceptions. They are usually themed by book, character, or have some special meaning/clues to the character's culture and or values. Because I like everything to be connected.

6. What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?

Depends on the book. I love writing beginnings, but I usually end up changing them half a dozen times. Endings and middles can both be hard for me. I love the feeling I get when I type the last words though.

7. Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?

I'm actually liking my MC, Ernest/Ernestine a lot more than I thought I would, seeing as she's such a different character for me. Her layers are starting to show, though. And naturally, the mysterious Master Butler, Mr. Smith, is basically my favorite character. But that was destined to happen.

8. What kind of things have you researched for this project, and how do you go about researching? (What’s the weirdest thing you’ve researched?!)

Walled cities, walls, architecture, steam engines, geological history, world languages, communes, the Wild West - all just little dips into things so I can get a good grasp of where I need to know more. And of course, Victorian Culture and everyday life. I love research, so it's almost more of a distraction for me. I try to do a little reading, a little quick Google translate, and then just get on with the story (I flag stuff for follow up later). During NaNo, researching and me should not go together. Because all I will do is research.
Weirdest? I don't know . . . this book hasn't brought up anything too strange yet. Mainly just medical/ disease stuff.

9. Do you write better alone or with others? Do you share your work or prefer to keep it to yourself?

I know how you feel, Kyo, I really do.

By myself, by myself, to myself. I am a shy, shy author. I basically have a crisis every time someone reads my stuff - embarrassing, isn't it? (Even the above sentences caused me some angst, especially since I hadn't reread them till now!) And yet I write on.

I work around people every day, and it exhausts me (which is fine, but there it is), so writing is a happily solitary thing for me. As for sharing my work - it's kind of a wonder I have a book deal at all, because of the aforementioned writer's anxiety - will they hate it, is it terrible, am I so delusional that I've lost all sense? 

If I didn't have a brother and sister who were not only my absolute best friends, but my biggest supporters/readers/cheerleaders/fans as well, I don't know if I'd ever have found any of my projects to be "good enough" to submit. *Blushes* because this was too personal and revealing for her comfort zone.

What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

Did I mention that I am a fickle creature? I do not have consistent habits. Sometimes I do silly things like trying to eat bowls full of noodles (with chopsticks) while writing.**

So do you NaNo? If so, do you have writer's anxiety, or do you show your stuff to anyone who'll read it? (if so, you're a fortunate brave soul) If you don't NaNo, what projects are you working on?


Deny thy father, and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.        40
  Rom.  [Aside.]  Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this?
  Jul.  ’Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself though, not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part        45
Belonging to a man. O! be some other name:
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes        50
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name;
And for that name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.
  Rom.        I take thee at thy word.
Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptiz’d;        55
Henceforth I never will be Romeo.
  Jul.  What man art thou, that, thus be-screen’d in night,
So stumblest on my counsel?
  Rom.        By a name
I know not how to tell thee who I am:        60
My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself,
Because it is an enemy to thee:
Had I it written, I would tear the word.
**I must need more excitement in my life or something

Monday, November 2, 2015

October Wrap Up Post (Which I am Crazy for Attempting, Because NaNoWriMo)

And it's already time for the monthly wrap up with Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction. Make sure you check out her blog for book reviews, zombies, and other fun stuff.

Here's the link if you want to join up.

If you aren't doing it, you're probably smarter than me . . .

Anyhow, because I will be typing furiously in between my heavy work load, I probably won't be reading or blogging much, but you never know.

October was a bit of a yo-yo month for me. I read quite a bit, but I worked a lot as well, and then my car gave out two weeks into the month. So I am rather pleased with 8 posts, actually. It's better than I thought I'd do.

  • I shared the first-ever snippet from my upcoming novel, Knight of the Blue Surcoat for the 777 challenge. So make sure you check that out if you'd like to read a little of my non-blog writing. :)
  • October is the perfect month for spooky books (though I am usually looking for these all year round), so I shared ten of my favorite less-known creepy reads (and introduced the Creepymeter). If you've read any of them, please comment and tell me because I am desperately seeking people to fangirl with . . .
  • I introduced my NaNo novel (which I am only 3K words into, but that's more than 0!) for Beautiful Books!
  • I went back up to my former hometown, Cedar, MI, and took some friends. We had a fun weekend and shared a lot of pictures and I played Grand Traverse/Leelanau tour guide. Click here for some lovely shots of Northern Michigan :) I also incorporated the Infinity Dreams award into this, and managed to leave TC with about fifteen new books . . .
  • And I finally read and reviewed Walk on Earth a Stranger. It was a great read, and a good way to get my mind off of car troubles!!

So that's it for posts, but I didn't just read one book! Or rather, I read a few books and an immense pile of manga . . . I got hooked on Itsuwaribito (manga) and Fruits Basket (thanks Victoria Grace for that last one), and found a few more series I might continue. I'm thinking I'll do a post that summarizes a lot of the stuff I've read in the past month :P

Right now I'm making my way through the Caretaker's Guide to Fablehaven. It's gorgeous, people, so if you (or your kids/kids you know) loved that series, I highly recommend checking it out. (Review to come).

(Friendly warning - if you don't speak Naruto this might look like gibberish, but I added pictures and helpful links!)

And as for Halloween - I had to work as usual, and I always try the poor customers by dressing up as something no one in small town Montague recognizes! (The Eleventh Doctor really puzzled everyone a couple years ago)

I ordered some awesome contacts back in September for my modern (genderswapped)  Uchiha Itachi costume . . . and they still haven't gotten here! And then, all my plans kind of fell through due to the aforementioned car. 

But my sister Grace (who was going to join me as Kisame!) and I spent two late nights making Akatsuki clouds and then sewing them on sweatshirts. We ended up with kind of slapdash, homemade costumes, but it was a ton of fun, and the sweatshirts turned out really well! 

At the last minute, we pulled my sister Emma into the loop, giving her whisker marks and a Naruto sweatshirt. So they came to work with me so we'd have some place to wear our costumes. Unfortunately, I don't have very good pictures (crazy day and I am bad at taking pics of myself), but here's what I do have.

Our shoes were $6 Dollar Store sandals, with black socks (toe cut off), and sweater sleeves that I cut off last minute for my legwarmers. And Grace's shark hat was a random JCPenney purchase (it looks so much like Kisame's face!)

We caught the nine tails.

You can't really see Grace's hair and makeup, but she french braided her hair so it would stick up, and used blue hair chalk to tint it. And she has gills on her cheekbones :P

Considering we got our costumes on and did makeup/hair in fifteen minutes, I feel like we did okay :)

Every Halloween, I think "I'll get up early before work and do an awesome job . . ." but then by the time my alarm goes off, snooze is much more rewarding than looking good (actually, it's not just Halloween, that's true for every morning shift!).*

^^^^This is probably why I've never done the full cosplay shebang. I love dressing up, and I love making costumes, but there's just so much . . . commitment (and money!) involved. Bothersome.

So I take a picture with that skull every year (far right middle). I spend (too much) plenty of time declaiming lines from Hamlet (which I love) to this same skull each October.**

Anyhow, it was fun, and one person at least realized G and I were Akatsuki (which was impressive for Montague - sorry Montague).

We might have been more recognizable as Naruto and Sasuke (which is on our list, along with basically every elf from LOTR, Sharon & Peggy Carter, Fili & Kili, and Cap & Bucky, and Thor & Loki, and you get the picture)***

So did you/do you dress up on Halloween? If so, what was the most elaborate costume you've ever worn? 

Also, How was your October? Did you read anything fabulous? And ARE YOU AS EXCITED ABOUT STAR WARS AS I AM!!!!????****

Have a great November everyone!

*I don't feel too bad about the lack of effort. No one wakes up looking as pretty as Itachi anyhow!
**Uhm, yes, I know how strange I am.
***So they're mostly guys. It hasn't stopped me yet. And I don't think working dressed as an elf is an option. The only thing that wouldn't get in the way would be the ears.
****Part excited, part leery. I mean - the prequels *shudders*