Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year's Resolutions 2014

Every year, people come up with New Year's Resolutions, and I admit that I am often among those who come up with ideas and follow through for approximately 17.5 hours (statistic from the Bureau of I Made It Up But It's Still Mostly True Facts), at which time I promptly settle back into my comfy existence just as it was.

Well, it's a lot harder to do that when your resolutions are on display for the whole world to see, so here I am.

Over the past year, a lot has happened to me and surprisingly, I actually have carried out several of my resolutions. I got married, moved, and got a kitten. That's enough to make anyone's head spin. But I also learned to use social media - and kept up with it! - and lost 10 pounds. So it's not impossible to change, and make those changes stick.

Thus, without further ado, I present my list of proposed changes for 2014:

-More social media. Regular blog posts, including posts in some new, themed blogs I intend to create. I will blog, tweet, and write until my head spins because damn it, I am a writer, and this is the year I am going to prove it!

Isn't this chart neat? The trick will be remembering all the passwords...

-Published novels! I have three in progress and THIS IS THE YEAR. The year of the novel. You see how that was all in bold? That is because I am going to be bold! Not only are all of my novels going to be completed, they're going to be scrubbed until they shine like the top of the Chrysler Building, edited by scalpel, chisel, and axe if necessary, and they are going to have the most rocking cover art a (mostly broke) writer can buy.

Too true, sir. Too true.

-Lose 10 pounds. Always.

-Eat more healthfully. As in, diet not consisting solely of pasta, wraps, and chocolate. It's not easy eating green, but it must be done.

-Stay more positive. This is a tough one for me sometimes, especially in winter. I bought myself a present with some of my holiday money: The Quotable Walt Disney. Not only is it uplifting, it's inspiring to me as a writer. It reminds me of just what you can achieve if you believe in your imagination.

It's a picture of social media stuff, but it also likes all
of my New Year's Resolutions. You see what I did there?

So that it, blogosphere. I'll be checking in throughout the year with news of how it's going. And this year, I'll be checking in regularly. :)

Happy and healthy New Year, all! See you in 2014!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cinnamon-Cocoa Cookies

In a break from the recent NaNoWriMo posts, as I've currently stalled at 61,000 (moving and getting a hyperactive kitten might have had something to do with that), I'm posting my recipe for cinnamon-cocoa cookies. I made this up myself, from a hybrid of other recipes, and I'm still perfecting it, but they taste pretty darn good as is. Enjoy!

Cinnamon-Cocoa Cookie Recipe

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


1 cup butter (plus 1/4 of next stick for extra fluffiness)
1 1/2 cups white sugar

Stir In:

1 egg
1 1/2 tablespoons molasses
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/8 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa (less, to keep the cookies thinner)

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes.

Yum. Just pure Yum.

Anyway, a variant of this recipe did actually make it into the finals of a Huffington Post chocolate chip cookie contest, so try it out if you like. I can't promise anything, but everyone who tried them liked them, so take that for what it's worth. :)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Doggedly Dragging Out the Words

Sometimes, writing comes easily. Words pour out like water bursting through a dam.

Sometimes, it does not.

After I hit NaNoWriMo's 50,000 word count, I kept a great deal of momentum. I haven't slacked off entirely - in fact, in the last 8 days, I have added an additional 10,000 words. But I wrote 25,000 words per 8 days for the first half of the month, and I do feel a bit disappointed in myself for having had some days where I didn't write, where I played Pokémon or watched Star Trek: The Next Generation, instead.

I could tell you that it's because I'm stressed about moving and our lawyer not having pinned down a closing date, or because I'm having angst about a kitten which I may or may not be able to adopt despite desperately wanting to. And these things are true. I've had some lovely nightmares, and have become very familiar with what the world sounds like at 4 in the morning.

But it's not the complete truth, and if you can't tell the truth to your (potential, one day, maybe) blog readers, who can you tell?

The truth is, I have let myself get out of the habit of writing. It's easier. It's less scary. What used to be my favorite activity has become fraught with fear, as I'm terrified that after every word, the well will dry up for good. There will be no more inspiration. I'm so afraid to fail that I haven't let myself try.

So here I am, writing a blog post. Because it's shorter, easier, but it's not a complete step away from writing. I may not be looking at my novel, but I still see a blank page that needs to be filled. And tonight, I'm going to try to get back to my writing.

To anyone who may read this at a later date and think, "Gee, that sounds like me," all I can tell you is this:

I don't know if it leads anywhere. I don't know if you'll ever be read, your work loved. I don't know if my work will ever be read or loved either.

But don't give up. I think quitting without even trying to achieve your dream is still infinitely sadder than being lazy, or failing time after time.




Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Life After 50,000 (or Having Some Self-Confidence)


I thought we should just get that out of the way first. I haven't stopped writing. My characters are still waiting for me to get a move-on and finish the story.

For the first time, I've really been on a streak where I believe I can get where I'm going. Self-confidence is a beautiful - and for me, incredibly rare - gift. And so I'm going to take this post to reflect on some things that helped me achieve this, in hopes that it will aid someone else out there:

1) I got married.

I know it's not for everyone, but let me tell you, there really are benefits. It wasn't just getting to be officially a Mrs. to the Mr. who's been my partner in every way for the last four and a half years. It wasn't about the beautiful ceremony, or the crazy fun party (although those were amazing).

It was the love.

Over 200 people from both his enormous family and mine came out to celebrate our being together. And instead of having a bunch of strangers who kept to themselves and waited for the whole thing to be over, I saw his grandmother dancing with my mother, our friends mixing and mingling with relatives of ours they'd never met. Also, I got to see some people whom I have known forever get inordinately drunk and profess how they love me like another child/grandchild/sister.

Being surrounded by so many people who not only love me, but really enjoyed being with each other was incredible. I highly recommend this to anyone - surround yourself with good people. It makes you feel better about yourself because they think well of you.

2) I am buying a house and getting cats.

Seriously, I know it makes me sound crazy - who wants all those extra bills, pets tearing up the furniture, all the worries of a mortgage - but I love it. I can't wait to have space again, to take a bath in a bathtub, to cook in a full kitchen, and to have meowing, purring buddies who attack my keyboard on a regular basis. Having something to look forward to is just as motivating as having something to look fondly back upon.

3) I wrote 56,000 words in 20 days and will likely have 70,000 by the end of the month. By the end of the year, I will have 3 completed novels which I will then edit, re-edit, edit some more until I want to tear my hair out, and then publish.

Having a goal to drive me forward, and having already completed a great deal of work on that path has been the confidence boost I was waiting for. I kept waiting to feel like I was ready to write again, waiting until some of the 200 books I read on research material for my stories or how to write better would give me some flash of inspiration, like "Here! This is your brilliant novel! Now go forth, publish, and be rich and fruitful!"

You know what it was in the end?

When November 1st rolled around, there was no flash. It's still not there. I still don't know whether or not my novels are any good, and certainly not whether or not they can succeed. But I remembered just how much I love to write. And knowing that fact, that I haven't lost the love for the biggest part of my life, has reawakened my love for myself. I am someone who writes. And that makes me someone I can love.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


I think I'm going to do this.

I did it.

50,031, baby!
I have officially crossed the finish line of NaNoWriMo, 14 days earlier than planned, about 8 years later than I'd hoped, and about 8 years earlier than I expected.

I've never managed to write so fast in my entire life, and it has left my head reeling. I've got that crazy, half-sick, half-thrilled feeling you get when you're on a roller coaster, going up the first incline. There's one second where you're at the top and you can see the now-nauseatingly high drop that didn't seem so bad before. Then you're flying and it's incredible. (Hopefully this does not end with you racing for the nearest waste receptacle as soon as you get off.)

My story seems to be about a quarter of the way finished. This is another first for me. In the past, I've had real difficulty with length, struggling to hit 80,000 with my first novel. I know that word count is generally a very wonky thing, where some publishers accept 70,000, others 100,000, and still others anything under, over, or in between. But even though I plan to self-publish, I do want to put out a finished product that isn't just good-looking, but also has some meat on its bones.

I'm looking forward to finishing this novel, and then immediately jumping back to my 7/8 finished second novel, which has been waiting patiently since I finished college for me to give it a fair shot. Technically, I'd say it's the most well-written of the three, so it deserves a chance. And for the first time in my life, I really do feel like a writer.

So yeah, I win.

I win, I win, I WIN, I WIN, I WIN!
(See show or listen to track "Son of Great Big Stuff." You'll get it.)

Inspiration: winning Lindsay Buroker's Amazon giveaway contest for writers on track with their word counts! I think this may have been the first money I've ever earned from my writing. It's certainly a good feeling. I'll have to keep doing this! 

Music: background noise of early - and terrible! - episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Thank the stars for Patrick Stewart - he is currently the show's only saving grace. I loved DS9, though, so I'm more than willing to give this a chance to grow on me.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

More Than Halfway There

35,039 words, people.

I'm starting to scare myself. I'm really, actually going to do this.


And then, of course, more awesome below:

NaNoWriMo Mystery Forums
(images courtesy of NaNo, Ava Jae's Writability blog, and Airawyn's tumblr - thanks guys!)

I'd post the image, but it appears to be in bits and pieces. Just go underneath "fluffy" and enjoy. I did.

Anyway, since pictures spice up the blog a little, here's a cat. Because they're also fluffy. And awesome.

(Image courtesy of Dynasticqueen on Wordpress)

Inspiration: Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Westchester, NY. Now in fictionalized form as the trail between Cobalton and Gridelin, which my characters are currently traversing.

Music: the OST and Image Albums of "Spirited Away." That movie is art. If you have not seen it, see it. Now. Seriously, everything else can wait.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Marathon Day

I did this. Wow. P.S. Image comes from Check it out!

I survived the first NaNo marathon on Saturday.

Please note, this is relevant because as it happens, I actually ran this time: 7,500+ words in one day.

I am now up to 34,154 words. I doubt I'll hit 50,000 before the 15th, but the fact that I'm likely to actually hit it at all this year, let alone before the 30th just astounds me. I've never written so fast, fluidly, or consistently in my entire life.

What do you know? It kind of seems like maybe I could make a living at this! :)

Inspiration: watching Thor's "The Dark World" and thoroughly enjoying Tom Hiddleston hamming it up as Loki. I want to write characters like him one day!

Music: more Joe Hisaishi soundtracks, because I am totally obsessed with his music. Ayaka Hirahara singing "Inochi no Namae" (go check it out on Youtube!) just gets me every time.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

See above. I just wanted to let you know I've joined the NaNoWriMo noveling marathon today. I'm up to 4,003 words and counting for the day, 26,585 total. :)

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Doldrums

The doldrums.

Apparently originally used to refer to a marine area just around the equator where the waters are perpetually calm, making it difficult to sail.

That first, frantic, delighted burst of novelmania has worn off, and I've settled down to the long haul that has traditionally represented the middle of my stories. This is the part where I've most consistently flown off course, or simply drifted into the Bermuda Triangle, never to be heard from again.

I have noted differences, however, between this trip into the deep and those preceding it. First of all, I still want to write. I've continued to hammer out words, although not at nearly so voracious a pace, despite having had a hellishly busy and annoying week at work. I had a presentation on Monday, meetings Wednesday and Thursday morning, and was on the desk many of my remaining hours, dealing with our eclectic and not always patient group of patrons.

I respect the workers in my profession, but I really believe I was meant to hide behind a desk, in a room with a cat, writing stories. I'm happiest there, even if I'm not making a dime. When I'm writing, that's when the people I meet get to see the real me, the one who's excited to be where she is. When I write, there's an inner glow that's hard to mistake.

This time, I have an entire weekend with nothing ahead of me. No OCD lists to complete (more about those some other time, when we have a full therapy session to devote to my neuroses), no chores, no family events, and most of our friends are busy or out of town. I'm just going to write. If I've earned it in my word count, I may treat myself to seeing the new "Thor" movie I've been looking forward to.

22,582 down, 27,418 words to go.

This time, I'm getting out of the doldrums even if I have to get out and push the boat forward.

Inspiration: getting out of my job, and the satisfaction of seeing that little blue bar that marks my daily NaNoWriMo word count go up and up and up

Music: Maaya Sakamoto's Live "We Are Kazyomi" tour, and Joe Hisaishi's "Melody Blvd."  Also the annoyingly catchy song "You've Got Possibilities," from the unlamented Superman musical.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Go, Go, NaNoWriMo!

So here I am again, managing to actually get several blog posts out in the span of less than a week. And believe it or not, this is actually in spite of the fact that not only am I keeping up with NaNoWriMo, I'm getting ahead.

It's Day 5, and I haven't started working on my novel yet for the day. By the end of today, I should have a total of 8,335 words to stay on track and finish on time.

Let's hear it for the girl: 16,097.

Yes, that's right. Almost double what I should have. And counting.

NaNoWriMo's wonderful, wonderful word tracker tells me all of these cool stats, like how many words I've written per day on average, and how long it will take me to finish if I keep going at this rate. Right now, I should be on track to hit 50,000 by November 14th, and if I keep going, by the time NaNo ends, I should have written somewhere around 120,000 words!

So in honor of all these cool facts, I present to you:

Maneki-neko, translated to mean "happy or lucky cat." Photo courtesy of the maneki-neko Wikipedia page.

It's a good day. Now, time to get back to noveling!

Music: Sukima Switch's Kuusou Clip (whoever said they're the Japanese Steely Dan was right), the soundtrack for the Pokemon Kyurem and the Sacred Swordsman movie, and the crickets chirping in all the empty seats for last night's presentation at work. Four people, one not even a resident, and none who will retain a shred of what I told them.

Inspiration: my vast collection of notes explaining the ecosystem and back-story of my world.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

In the Past

This is going to be a short post, because I'm beat.

But I just wanted let the world at large know that I am not a one-day wonder. I have, in fact, doubled my word count from around 4,000 to 8,000. I know, it's only a small fraction of 50,000, but it's more than I had yesterday, and it didn't even take up my entire day. I wrote in the afternoon, added stuff to my Skydrive to back it up, looked at photos of cute cats, and wrote again in the evening.

It's 9:00 and I'm not entirely sure I'm done for the night. I likely am, because I can rapidly feel burnout approaching, but I'm thoroughly satisfied with how I've progressed up until now. If I can continue at this pace, it will really help if I have to miss a day because of work, moving hassles, or general craziness.

As for the story itself, surprisingly it has remained on the rails thus far. I'm trying desperately to hug my outline like it's my last hope for survival, but I've never been particularly good at adhering to outlines in the past.

Then again, I present to you this inspirational dialogue from The Lion King, quotes taken direct from IMDB:

Rafiki: It doesn't matter. It's in the past. [laughs
Adult Simba: Yeah, but it still hurts. 
Rafiki: Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the from way I see it, you can either run from it, or... learn from it. 

Time to put the past in the past, learn from it, and win NaNoWriMo.

Inspirations: way too much information on skydiving, ejection seats, the height of mountain ranges, and hydroelectric power.

Music: the sounds of a wrestling promo by Davey Richards, background music from cool game husband is playing called Miasmata, and the ever-familiar sounds of Pokemon X and Y, which my husband is currently going through and which I have already logged over 40 hours in and still counting.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Who's Awesome?

Why, yes, in fact. You're absolutely right.

I am.

The brilliant Stephen Sondheim once wrote, in the beautiful song Finishing the Hat, the following lyrics:

"Look, I made a hat!
Where there never was a hat!"

Indeed, as we speak, there reside 4,069 words in a beautiful line that were not there when I woke up this morning. Not only did I write my required quotient for the first day of NaNoWriMo, I've written tomorrow's and part of Sunday's as well. But I don't plan to take it easy.

Despite a lousy day at work, and a noisy evening at home which consisted of my husband and his friend watching their beloved wrestling matches at top volume, I have persevered and succeeded. Think what I could do on a less busy and less stressful day.

For the first time in a long while, I have my confidence back. I'm not sure whether it's getting married, getting a house, or just plain getting sick of going nowhere at work, but I'm not scared of the writing anymore. The words are pretty terrible and disjoined in places, but there are sentences, and I'm pretty sure they're somewhere approaching coherent. It's a lousy start, but it's a start.

And besides, if the NaNo pep talkers are anything to go by, maybe first drafts are always supposed to be punishingly bad. Maybe that's how nature weeds out the bad novelists? If you're not really dedicated, you will never get to the diamond in the rough.

Well, that's what I'm hoping anyway. Because rough going or not, I'm forging full-speed ahead.

INSPIRATION: the deep pink clouds of sunset and the blanket of fallen orange leaves coating the grass by the side of the highway

MUSIC: horrendous karaoke from when I was in college that I was uploading to Skydrive. For completion's sake and because I never delete anything, not because I actually thought I could sing in college. Seriously. I swear.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hello World

Hello again!

So what's new?

Well, since you last heard from me, I've just kind of been hanging around...getting married, going on a honeymoon to Disney World, and buying a house and getting ready to move into it.


So I'm still recovering from the whirlwind that has been my life for the past couple of months, and what do I do to relax?

You guessed it, folks: that crazy writer girl is going to do NaNoWriMo.

Okay, so I'm a little busy with my full-time job, the holidays, packing up and getting ready to move, etc. But you know what? I actually haven't felt this psyched about writing in a long time. I literally can't wait to start. I'm so eager to write that I've actually done a 792 word first chapter of a story I'm not intending to work on, several forum posts on the NaNo site, and this blog post.

It feels fabulous.

Do you ever get nostalgia for what it was like to be a kid? Do you remember the feeling that the world was yours to take, and that anything you imagined could come true? When I went to Disney, I got some of that feeling back, the feeling people can create a fantasy that will last and encompass others within it. I told my husband (and no, calling him that is not going to get old anytime soon!) that I was tired of feeling like I couldn't do it. For nearly two years I've been stuck in a job that isn't "writer." And if I want out, I can't just send in a resume to Writers 'R Us. I have to have some serious Butt In Chair time, and I have to stop doubting myself.

So come hell, high water, Hurricane Sandy Junior, or moving vans, this is darn well going to be the year.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Dusting Off the Old Blog

As I'm still rusty with this whole blog posting thing, I'm going to keep today's update short and sweet. I just want to let people out there know about a really cool book that I'm reading called "Let's Get Digital," by David Gaughran. It's a guide on self-publishing, and I'm finding it really fascinating. What's even cooler is that it links - with rather eerie preciseness - to some of the exact points made in the following article:

Originally titled "The Hunger Games Economy" (or at least it was when my Dad scanned and sent it to me from Forbes), this article is a telling indicator of how much the publishing industry has changed over the past few years. E-books are booming, self-published authors are competing with well-known legacy-published authors, and hard work and talent have more of a chance of success than ever before in the writing world.

Reading books and articles like these remind me that now is one of the best times to be an author. Reading about other ordinary people making a living from writing gives me renewed hope. I've only ever wanted to be a successful author so that people would give me more time to keep doing what I love most in the world - creating stories.

Maybe, with a few good novels at my side containing the characters who hold my heart and imagination, I can succeed too.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tweet, Tweet!


So it's been nearly two years since I've posted on my blog.

After recently creating a Twitter account that links to it, and realizing that said Twitter account is being visited by a number of strangers who may, one day, want to read my work should I ever get around to publishing it, I've decided to update this blog at last.

I've ejected the Super Pink template that I originally started with because, while I do still love pink (yes, I admit it), it was starting to get a bit stale.

So I tore down the wallpaper, made it all sparkly and new again, and here I am!

In the past two years, a lot has happened. I've gone from being a frustrated librarian-to-be unable to get a job in a crowded market to being a tech librarian for a library that is trying to move ahead into the 21st century with all its bells, apps, devices, and whistles. I really enjoy being a part of that.

I've added three baby cousins to my family - well, kids of cousins, but it still counts because they're adorable! My longtime boyfriend (and best friend) and I have gotten engaged. We're looking for a place to live. And we've lost our two beloved cats which, as any pet lover can tell you, is rough.

I'm still working towards becoming a writer. I've finished one novel and am almost finished with a second, have an enormous fantasy world still bubbling and brewing in my head, and am slowly working towards getting all of my work to a point where I can publish it.

In a year, I hope to be published, married, and living in a wonderful home with many pets.

Hopefully, by the time that happens, I'll have written a few more blog posts. :)