Choosing a Profession

I’m preparing for NaNo by coming up with some character development prior to starting.  (I’m also already thinking that I’m probably a crazy person for taking this on, but only time will tell.)  The main decision I need to make now, besides finding names for side characters, is the profession for one of my two main characters.

The basic concept for this character is that she starts out the story as what she sees as a success: she’s got a good job (albeit not what she studied in school) and a good-looking, nice-guy fiancée.  She’s in that “comfortable” place, where life is routine and she’s not happy or sad.  Through the story she’s going to have all of these things challenged, due to an outside force, and she’ll find things that make her truly happy.

That said, I had to decide three things today: what she studied in school, what she does now, and what she’s going to do later.  I chose things that I am vaguely familiar with, to cut down on the research time mid-Nano.  So, she studied English in college, is an Admin Assistant in an office, and eventually becomes an author.  These are all things that I can either fake or ask somebody I know, at least for now.  Details can be tweaked and fixed in the editing process, once the word-vomiting of NaNo is complete.

Tomorrow is Day 1 – are you ready?

Great People Watching, Part 2

I told you I’d give you a follow-up on the observations I made going out for Halloween!  Not all of them are not people-watching related, but they are all interesting.

The unique and unusual costumes will get the most attention.  Even a well-executed or creative take on a common theme will be overlooked in favor of an original idea, however poorly done.

Costumes in a non-costume setting are okay when it’s Halloween.  Three of us went to Denny’s at around midnight, and while we got some stares walking in, the only attention we got was positive.

People will watch a TV even in a social setting.  It doesn’t take costumes to make this observation.  There were music videos playing at the club we went to and a horror movie on the TV at one of the parties, and when conversation lulled, guess where all the eyes went.

I don’t like crowds. This is not a new revelation, but every time I go somewhere with a lot of people, I make the same observation.  It doesn’t matter the context or the people I’m with, crowds are not fun for me.  At some point I should learn to anticipate and avoid them.

It really is a small world.  There are many people from Illinois who now live in Texas, but last night at one of the parties I met the first person in Houston who not only is from my hometown, but graduated from the same high school as my sister and went to the same university that I did!

Even in comfortable shoes, your feet will hurt after a night standing on them.  This one needs no explanation.

Hope you have a great Halloween weekend!

Great People-Watching, Part 1

Tonight I am going out with a huge group of friends and acquaintances to party it up for Halloween.  🙂  Last year I went out for the first time and discovered that this holiday is a great chance to observe human behavior.  As an author, I try to take the opportunity whenever it presents itself.

So, it is time for me to go turn myself into a character.  Last year I went with Uhura from Star Trek.  This year is a bit less nerdy – I’m dressing up as a zookeeper, albeit with shorter shorts and a tighter t-shirt than any zoo in the country would allow!  (Mostly I’m using it as an excuse to wear hiking boots rather than heels.  My feet were killing me last year.)

I will let you know if I make any fun or amazing observations tonight!  Enjoy your Halloween weekend!  🙂


Inspiration At Last!

Last night after I posted about NaNoWriMo, I started contemplating what story I would work on if I did take on the challenge.  There are only two potentially novel-length ideas currently in my head: Chasing and another, older story that came back recently.  If I didn’t have a story that I could work on, it seemed silly to sign up for NaNoWriMo.  I don’t like to set myself up for failure.

Once I started contemplating, though, the older story came to the front and everything began to flow.  I added some detail to the background of the two main characters, I figured out the two intertwined plots (one for each character), and even came up with a working title.  I’m calling it “Life in Dreams” but here it will probably just be Dreams.

Needless to say, I signed up for NaNoWriMo after all.  It’s already got my creativity up again – now I just need to be patient and wait until Tuesday to start writing!

Contemplating a Challenge

As you all (probably) know by now, my creative juices have been fermenting in the back of my mind’s refrigerator lately.  I’ve tried a variety of things to get them flowing again, and nothing seems to have worked.

I’ve found a possible challenge that could get things moving once more: NaNoWriMo.

If you are unfamiliar, those letters stand for National Novel Writing Month, also known as November.  The challenge is to write at least 50,000 words between 12:01 am on Nov 1 and 11:59pm on Nov 30.  This is a quantity, not quality effort.  Just get a novel on paper.

I haven’t signed up yet, but I have a few more days before the challenge starts to decide.  I am the kind of person who loves a challenge – just look at the summer weight loss challenge that my coworkers and I did!  I was hardcore, lost almost 20 pounds, and won!  So maybe the challenge of writing a novel in a month is exactly what I need to get writing again.

Have any of you participated in NaNoWriMo before?  Do you think participating is a good idea?

Words of Wisdom Wednesday

Tonight, for fun – favorite musical quotes!  Go!

“I’m looking for baggage that goes with mine.”  – Rent

It’s really – uh – sharp, don’t you think?”  – Wicked (in reference to a pointy witch hat…  makes me laugh every time)

“And though scary is exciting, nice is different than good.”  – Into the Woods

Look – Recognition!

I am a strange blogger.  I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I mostly use my blog as a pseudo-journal, a way to reinforce writing daily.  I love the comments (and I do read them, every day, even when I don’t comment back!) and I check my stats, but mostly I just write.  Therefore, the concept of blogger awards is somewhat new to me, but deshipley at Ever on Word has given me a shout-out and a “Most Versatile Blogger” award!

I guess I am versatile within the realm I have set forth for myself – writing about writing.  There are some rules that go along with this, and conveniently they make thinking of today’s post really easy.  Here are the guidelines:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them.
2. Tell your readers 7 things about yourself.
3. Give this award to 15 recently discovered bloggers.
4. Contact those bloggers and let them in on the news.

Thanks, deshipley!  Your link back is above!

Now, 7 things about me.  I guess, to be a good sport, I’ll try for things you don’t know.  (That is, of course, unless you are related to me or see me frequently.  If that’s the case, tough!)

1. I don’t eat molluscs. I started out saying that I didn’t eat bivalves (clams, oysters, mussels, scallops) but it got extended to molluscs when I realized that I also don’t eat snails (univalves), squid, or octopus (cephalopods).  They all fall into molluscs, so there you go.  (I’m even a science nerd about food!)

2. I will not pay people to scare me. This means no haunted houses and no horror movies.  I have too strong of an imagination, and I like my ability to sleep.

3. I have trouble choosing favorites. I don’t have a favorite movie, but I have a “top 5.”  It took a while for me to admit that my favorite animal is an Acorn Woodpecker, and I usually still say “woodpeckers” when asked my favorite.  It’s a similar story with authors, songs, books, food, etc.  If I have a single favorite something, then you know I really like it.

4. I collect llamas.  I have over 40 of them, in wood, ceramic, even plush.  I volunteered at a llama farm near my hometown for 8 years, which started and inspired the collection.

5. I can multitask really well, but I can’t write with the TV on.  In fact, I have a movie on pause at the moment while I put this post together!

6. My computer is off more than it is on.  I use my laptop for a variety of things, particularly internet-related.  I blog, I have three personal email accounts, I like Facebook, and there are several other sites that I check for various reasons.  I also write on my laptop and play various forms of solitaire.  However, I do not linger.  I turn the computer on, do what I plan to do, and then turn it off.

7. I clearly talk about myself too much! This list was harder than it should be – I’ve told you people too many things about myself before!

Now, 15 new bloggers.  (15 is a lot!  Why can’t it be 5? Who decided these rules, anyway?)  I am a bad blogger.  I don’t read other blogs very often.  So, take this with a grain of salt.  Instead of doing a shout-out to recently discovered blogs, I am going to use this as a way to highlight the last 15 bloggers (not counting deshipley) to comment on my blog.  (A little positive reinforcement, if you will!)

1. My Enchanted Keys
2. georgefloreswrites
3. Aaron D. Graham
4. My Universe is Still Coming Together
5. The Short and the Long of it
6. Skybambi’s blog
7. dodging commas
8. E.J. Lavoie’s Blog
9. Rob Holts Writer Unextraordinaire
10. Kate Burns
11. Ink Stained
12. creative barbwire
13. Misplaced in Time
14. A Fine Day for an Epiphany
15. If You Could Let Your Heart Speak

I guess all that’s left is telling these bloggers “Tag, you’re it!”  Is it just me, or does this seem like a cross between an award and a chain letter… 😉

Dismantling and Reassembling

I completely dismantled my parrot’s cage last night.  I’ve taken parts of it off before for cleaning, but it was due for a major scrub.  As I put the thing together, I knew I could take it apart without needing instructions on how to put it back together.  Even the largest pieces fit into my bathtub, making it a relatively easy thing to clean.  After a long overnight soak, all of the bits of food and bird poop rinsed off quite nicely.  A few of the pieces are still drying, but what I’ve put back together looks so much better.

I’m planning to do the same to Dragon, starting in the next few days.  The first revision is very like cleaning the bird’s cage, as I really have to tear it apart and rebuild it in many ways.  I know there are some major changes that I need to make based on the feedback from my First Readers.  I also haven’t looked at it in months (which was kind of the point) so I’ll be able to revise it more effectively.  Fresh eyes make it easier to find the gaps in the story and the grammar issues in the writing.

Revising is always an interesting process, and it should be fun to visit the world of Dragon.  This was the story that was frantic to be written, after all, so it should be fun to take it up again.

My Friend, the Semicolon

After my post about my fondness for long sentences, another blogger asked for a post about the use of semicolons.  This is that post.

Complex sentences can provide a way to help set the feel of the book, or simply to vary the sentence structure in your writing so your readers don’t get bored.  The semicolon is a great way to build complex sentences, and there are some simple rules about how to use it.

The two parts of the sentence should be able to stand alone.
A semicolon joins two independent clauses into one sentence.  How do you know if it’s an independent clause?  If it can stand alone as a simple sentence.  So, a correct example would be: “I write fantasy; fantasy is full of complex sentences” and an incorrect example would be: “I write fantasy; and complex sentences.” The first is two independent clauses, and the second is not.

The two parts of the sentence should be related.
The idea of a semicolon is to link two related thoughts more closely than the sentences around them.  Think of it as a marriage.  You’re making two separate sentences share the space and punctuation of one sentence – they need to get along.  A correct example: “Carrie was pleased with her assignment; writing was one of her favorite activities” and an incorrect example: “Carrie was happy to make dinner; Bob hated grammar.”

A semicolon replaces a comma and a conjunction.
Two sentences can be combined using a comma and a conjunction instead of a semicolon.  “Carrie was pleased with her assignment, because writing was one of her favorite activities.”  “I write fantasy, and fantasy is full of complex sentences.”  You have to choose one or the other.  If you want to use a conjunction like and, because, although, use a comma, not a semicolon.  A semicolon is the right choice if you don’t want to use the conjunction.  Correct example: “Eli drives me crazy; he likes to wake me up early on my weekend.”  Incorrect example: “Eli drives me crazy; since he likes to wake me up.” (The second sentence could be corrected in two ways: drop the since  or change the semicolon to a comma.)

Semicolons are fun, although I might overuse them in my writing.  I hope these simple rules will help you to use more semicolons, too!

A Torch? Or a Flashlight?

I’ve been watching The Life of Mammals, a BBC mini-series by David Attenborough.  I started with The Life of Birds, which is also what David started with, and now I’m almost done with the mammals.  Life in the Undergrowth, about invertebrates, is next, but I’ll have to wait until it’s available streaming from Netflix.  (That’s how I’ve watched the other two.)

As it is a British documentary and I am American, there are occasionally fun word moments.  The two that struck me tonight were his pronunciation of “sloth” (slowth instead of the slawth) and his referring to a flashlight as a torch.  My sister had some interesting stories about different terms when she came back from England.  I find it very interesting that two versions of English can have such a variety of terms and pronunciations.

There are tells in books, too.  If there’s a “u” in color or favorite, than the book was probably written and published in the UK.  If that’s the case, and a character is carrying a torch, there’s a good chance that it’s battery-powered.  🙂

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