Sunday, November 16, 2014

Week Two of NaNo 2014

Week two of NaNo didn't go as well for me as week one did. After my last post I barely wrote for two days, so the past three days I've been writing like crazy to make up the difference. Thankfully, today it's looking like I can finally get back on track. As of writing this I've gotten 25k under my belt (plus the 21k I wrote before NaNo began), and only another 25k left to go. It's all downhill from here...right?

If only! But my life isn't so simple as to only contain NaNoWriMo. My pet rat gave birth today, my husband and daughter are sick, my son has endless energy, I'm running a weekly game for my friends, and I'm getting a few more shifts a week now that winter's about here. If I'm being frank with you, I can't wait until November is over. I feel like John Green with his poofy hair. The poof has a life of its own! Its name is Stress...

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Week One of NaNo

Week one of NaNo is now officially over! On day 7 the goal was 11,666, and I ended the day with 12,188 words. Not too far ahead, but every bit helps. Especially when right afterward you get hit with a day like the day I've had...

My grandpa's funeral was this morning. I didn't get to go. I had to work, because there were only two other people who could have worked the shift for me, and it was one of their birthdays, and the other one was her best friend. They'd asked for the day off way in advance.

So I worked. I worked nine hours. I worked nine hours, on my feet all day, on a very busy day. I worked without stopping for a break, because if I'd taken a break everything would have spun out of control, and customers would have left unhappy for their wait times and their service.

When I was done working on the day of my grandpa's funeral, I went to a 24 hour diner in town with wi-fi to try to get some writing done. Because I thought if I went home I'd melt on the couch until it was time to go to sleep, and I really want to keep from getting behind during NaNo.

The diner's wi-fi was down. And I discovered this after ordering food. And the food sucked. And my waiter was extremely inattentive.

I left, and came home. I forced myself to write, even though I didn't feel like it. I discovered that writing about my characters bickering is cathartic. I wrote this blog post.

Now I'm going to bed. Good night, cruel world...

Monday, October 20, 2014

Rebooting

I haven't been doing anything on my blog lately, as you can plainly see. It's made me sad, but I've excused myself with "too much going on." But I also haven't been writing a ton lately, either--not nearly as much as when I was going blog posts regularly--so I think writing here encourages me to also write in my current project. So it's time for a reboot.

I'm using NaNoWriMo 2014 as a kick in the pants to get back to work on my current WIP, and so I'll also be using it as a kick in the pants to start back up here, as well. I'll be updating my word count here weekly at minimum, which will both motivate me to keep it on track, and give me a kernel of something to say when I do these posts. I'll also be getting back on my Twitter account as a more frequent motivational tool.

Thanks for reading. I'll see you here next week.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Ten Hours Left

That's right, only ten more hours on my Goodreads Giveaway, so don't miss out!

Once again I'm falling in love with the characters I'm writing. Mage Assassin is going well. So far, my husband's response to it is, "This is great. There needs to be more of it," which is the most positive thing he's ever said of a first draft of mine. So I'm wrestling to make more of it while also helping with our current move.

Speaking of how little time I have to throw around right now, I'm going to leave you with something I wrote today that I'm pretty proud of, though it has nothing to do with anything that I normally talk about here--feminism, how to respond to guys, and compassion. There's a phone line called bell hook hotline. Here's what I have to say about it:

Bell Hooks was an awesome woman, but I don't care for the spirit of the bell hooks hotline. Bell Hooks wanted us to feel compassion for one another, and I feel handing out a false number (even one that responds to texts with feminist quotes) is not spreading compassion but more mistrust between genders.

Wouldn't it be better to tell the man, when he asks for your number, that it's not his fault, but you aren't interested? Not all men ask for women's numbers for a one-night-stand, many do so to ask you out for coffee, to see what you're like and see if they would like to pursue a relationship with you. And should we punish this behavior with deception and disappointment?

Of course if it's obvious they're only going for a hook-up you need not accept. But if that's the case, take a look around and see where you are. Is it at a bar, drinking, wearing hot make-up and skimpy clothing? Certainly I'm not implying you're "asking for it," but I would say you're sending out the wrong message, that you're just looking for a good time.

My point: be upfront. Handing out false numbers is not going to "educate men on how to correctly behave around women," it will only further their mistrust of us, and deepen their rage toward us.

“For me, forgiveness and compassion are always linked: how do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?”
― Bell Hooks

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Guest Post from Nikolas at Grammarly

Hi! I've got Nikolas here from Grammarly doing a guest post. Without further adieu...

Is that a naked stick figure? ...Why yes, yes it is.


5 Common Mistakes of New College Writers
Regardless of a student's chosen discipline, writing in college is an unavoidable task. Whether in composition studies or in discipline-specific classes, every student is expected to possess the basic skills of academic writing and must be able to display those skills through assignments, essays, and papers. Many students, however, enter college without some of these fundamental skills, and ultimately, their academic writing career suffers for it.
Thankfully, many students have these skills, having learned them in high school English assignments, but have often hidden them away due to a dislike of writing. What happens then is that these students enter college and make some very common writing mistakes, mistakes that can be overcome by a basic understanding of the fundamentals of academic writing. In my work for Grammarly, I study how people write as well as the tools they use to become better writers. I find some of the most common mistakes new college writers make to be:
Thesis Statements – Even though it is the most important sentence in an academic paper, many students misunderstand the basic purpose of a thesis statement. Essentially, the thesis statement serves two functions in a paper: it states a claim, and it gives the reader a roadmap of the paper. Basically put, the thesis statement informs the reader of what the paper will argue and what it will use to argue it. Without a thesis statement, a paper – regardless of discipline – will be nearly impossible to follow and understand.
Organization – It's important, also, to understand that most academic papers follow the same structure. They open with an introduction, which ends with the thesis statement, and is then followed by the paragraphs that support the thesis statement before ending with a conclusion that wraps the paper up. When writing papers, many students structure their writing out of order, often writing on the fly, without much preplanning. The result is a paper that feels unorganized and is hard to follow. The easiest way for students to overcome organization mistakes is to spend time working out a solid outline of their paper before they even begin writing. Determine the support for the thesis and then outline in what order you intend to write about that support.
Paragraph Structure – Once a student has established the appropriate organization of his or her paper, they must then work on structuring the paragraphs. As with the organization of the paper on the whole, most paragraphs within an academic paper follow the same formula:
  • Topic Sentence: They begin with a topic sentence that details exactly what the paragraph will talk about. It's important to keep in mind that all paragraphs should talk about only one topic. If a student tries to work too many subjects into a paragraph, the paragraph becomes muddled and hard to understand. The topic sentence will help keep the paragraph on task. Also, it should reflect an idea within the thesis statement to show how the paragraph fits in with the larger argument.
  • Illustrations: These are the examples, quotations, research, and outside sources that support the topic sentence. For example, if your topic sentence talks about a correlation between outside stress and negative interactions within a marriage, the illustrations might be the findings of studies that have been done on the subject or statistics that show this correlation.
  • Explanation: Every paragraph must end with an explanation that shows how the illustrations support the topic sentence. It isn't enough that a student gives his or her reader statistics that show a correlation between outside stress and negative interactions within a marriage, but he or she must also explain how those statistics are relevant to the topic sentence, and thus the thesis statement of the paper.
A solid paragraph will begin with a topic sentence, followed by illustrations and explanations. More complex paragraphs may have multiple illustrations and explanations, but there will always be only one topic sentence.
Editing – Many college students, especially new students, choose to not start writing their essays until the night before they are due, failing to leave adequate time at the end of the process for editing their essays. This is unfortunate, since editing is the most important part of the writing process. An easy way to avoid this mistake is for a student to simply start working on his or her assignment early, ensuring that he or she will have ample time before the assignment is due to finish editing the essay.
Grammatical Errors – While no college professor will ever fail a student's paper because of grammatical mistakes, often too many grammatical and stylistic errors will make a paper look unprofessional, thus making the student look unprofessional. Thankfully, this is the easiest mistake to overcome if you utilize some of the tools available online. For example, over at Grammarly, we offer one of the most sophisticated English proofreading tools on the Internet. A student simply has to upload his or her essay, and the grammar checker will scan the text for more than 200 common grammatical errors. Fixing these errors will leave the student with an essay that looks professional and polished, something his or her professor will appreciate greatly.
Regardless of discipline, all college students will be required to write assignments in some fashion. Because of this, it's important that they understand some of the common mistakes that new college writers make when faced with these tasks. Overcoming these mistakes will lead to greater writing skills, and thus better grades in classes that require written assignments.
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Bio:
Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown children’s novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, travelling, and reading.

Thanks Nikolas! So I noticed some similarities between how to write a paper and how to write a work of fiction, so I couldn't help but share.
Thesis Statement: In a work of fiction this would be the call to action. It's what sets the hero on the path toward the main conflict.

Organization: Works of fiction also follow a basic structure. Start with an introduction to your character, defining who they are enough for your audience to care what happens to them. Follow this up with the call to action, chapters that explore that action, finished with a kick-butt climax and a strong resolution.

Paragraph Structure: Paragraphs in papers are more equivalent to scenes in novels. Scenes should be tight, with no wasted space, each one serving a purpose to the plot or character development, or hopefully both. They should have these elements:
  • Set the scene: We should know where we are, who's there, and what they're doing there.
  • Conflict: What's a story without conflict? Need I say more?
  • This last step can be one of two things. Either you ramp up the drama with a big problem, or you drive the character development forward with them making a decision. Don't end the chapter with, "Then I went to bed."
Editing and Grammar:  Are important. Don't skip out!

Whatever you're writing, take care with it.

Don't forget to check out my Goodreads giveaway. Also, a quick announcement: I've signed up for Matchbook with Amazon, so if you buy the paperback through them, you can download the kindle version for free. Sweet deal!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

We're Not Gonna Take It

She gave me a blank look. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, let's go put an end to it. Mage persecution? Not going to play along nicely. How about you?"

She took my hand. Who wouldn't? I'm fucking epic.



That's a snippet of Mage Assassin, the book I'm currently working on. The MC, Gari, is totally full of himself, but then it's kind of deserved, because he's just really cool. He's a mage with Bond tenancies. I love it.

You know what I don't love? False advertising. Especially by writers, who are supposed to communicate more clearly with those around them, at least in print (personally I suck at making points while talking). I recently joined a writing group on Meetup called "Not Your Mother's Writing Group," which advertises itself as being full of writers who don't go where many others have gone before, ignores polite conversation, etc.

That sounds great, right? I'm tired of going into writing groups only to be tasked with helping people tweak their bland, normal writing, their memoirs, their blogs. I got accepted into this one, and suddenly I can see their profiles, saying they're writing memoirs and blogs. The only person who seems to fit the name of the group is the founder, who's working on a book titled 'Diary of a Child Molester' (A title I really like. Heehee.)

Everyone's saying in the "What attracted you to this group" section, "I'm glad I found a place where I can get better without fear of harsh words" etc, which would be your mother's writing group, unless you think the difference is your mom's group doesn't help you get better.


If I had the money to host a Meetup group, it would be titled, "Fearless Fantasy Writers," and genre-bending would be encouraged, as well as not censoring things which could get your book banned. However, I don't, so I'll drop in and out of the endless line of bland writing groups that are just like a mother's might be, and keep writing this gritty, alternate-recent-history urban fantasy novel.