Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

All Cozied Up

Meow?

 “When we are present in each moment, the past gently rolls up behind us and the future slowly unravels before us.”

– Rev Richard Levy

 

 

 

I come to you from the safe haven of the living room couch, beneath two fuzzy blankets – one adorned in Christmas colors, the other wrapped carefully around my head – a candle scented as “Winter Wonderland” burning bright, stories of local shootings and more job cuts and a mall Santa who got robbed all booming from the television. Joe is sitting on the back porch in frigid weather, smoking cigarettes and chatting with his mother on the phone.

Joe’s parents – who live in sunny Florida – will be arriving this Christmas Eve, and I can hardly wait. Our parents will be meeting for the first time this year (Joe and I have been together for two years), and there is definitely a piece of me that is rather nervous about the four meeting. I mean, I’m sure they’ll get along. I’m sure they’ll adore each other! But put a bottle of booze in front of any member of my family (myself included), and things can get a bit out of hand.

We’ll make the baked macaroni and cheese and hope for the best.

(Love you, mom.)

A job transition is in the works, the Christmas shopping isn’t done, the anxiety and depression continue to undulate with the melodies of my favorite Christmas carols. All I can say is that the genuine laughter is coming back into my voice, the stomach aches are fewer, and normal meals have made their way back into my skimpy diet. Something to celebrate! I look forward to family coming together this holiday. I believe it may be the cure.

While I’ve avoided the subject up until now, I have come to terms with the fact that the sudden onset of this “funk” hindered my ability to completely finish NaNoWriMo. But – I’m trying not to get too worked up about it. For a first attempt, 72 pages added to my novel is still something to celebrate. Over 20,000 words in a matter of 2 1/2 weeks is something to celebrate. There’s always next year, right? Real life put my fiction on pause for a while, but I forgive it. Sometimes, these things can’t be helped.

There’s something about being wrapped up, warm, cozy, slippers on, the Christmas lights all ablaze. Maybe the warmth brings up a subconscious memory of being back in the womb, when the most important decision of our lives was to decide which side of the sack to curl up in. No? Maybe.

I made a yummy dinner of Chicken Parmesan with a tomato & basil topping, paired with a side of red potatoes mixed with onions and peppers. It was pretty delicious. Thank you, Rachael Ray. Simple, quick, inexpensive. Highly suggested.

I’ve been working on gettin’ domesticated.

Hope everyone is in the holiday spirit, and that the Christmas shopping is done (or close to it).

Happy. Holidays.

 

 

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Pass the stuffing, not the pocket knife; what I’m thankful for; NaNoWriMo continued.

“Real life” has gotten in the way of my blogging for a few days – you know, having to pay bills and all that junk – but now I’m back and ready to write.

Joe and I spent a few days in the mountains “winterizing” the house, which consisted of covering the pond, raking leaves, pouring antifreeze in the toilet to avoid it from smashing into a thousand pieces in case things freeze up there…

I raked some leaves then hid inside under a blanket, furiously NaNoWriMo-ing on the mountaintop. The lack of cable television and an internet connection proved to be the perfect environment for getting a lot of writing done. I’ve fallen a little behind in my target word count, but there’s still time to catch up, which I intend to do. But whatever happens, I am up to over 70 pages added to my novel! I’m pretty okay with that.

Tomorrow, as we all know, is the day of giving thanks. Lots of people talk about their whacky family traditions, but as far as the actual holiday is concerned, we watch the Macy’s Parade and eat all the usual fixings. The most exciting part about the food – while it is all absolutely delicious – may be my mother’s roasted asparagus smothered in Parmesan cheese. Mmm.

Now when it comes to my actual family…that’s another story. Don’t get me wrong, I love them all. Each and every odd member (myself included here). I love Aunt Elane and her endless jello shots. I love Cousin Joe and the rainbow pocket knife he stabbed me with last year. I even love when my grandfather tries to check Uncle Tony’s Blood Sugar level, and has three people holding him down so he can poke his finger with the tiny needle.

Oh, the joy of the holidays are upon us.

And so this brings me to what I am thankful for, today, tomorrow, and all year round.

1.) My wonderful boyfriend, Joe (AKA Charlie…the origin of my family’s strange nicknames are reserved for another post). He is my heart, my best friend, my….alright, enough of the mushy stuff. He treats me better than I deserve, and I am grateful every day for him.

2.) My parents. I think I’ve made it to a point in my life where I can say I’m an intelligent, responsible young woman. And I guess I should give them credit for it. (Mother will be reading this.) I have the coolest dad around (a girlfriend of mine in high school nicknamed him “Slick”, because he always kept his

The 2 coolest dudes around: my grandather & my father.

shades on, even inside). He’s little, Italian, wears a gold chain around his neck, and can break someone’s face with his fist. My mother is Irish and Polish (and I have her skin, hence my fear of the sun), and the Irish in her comes out very easily. She is a fierce Mama Bear, and I’m pretty sure I’d choose both of them to fight my battles for me. (I break easily.)

3.) Vanilla Soy Chai from Starbucks. I am one of millions who help keep the place in business. And I refuse to calculate how much money per week I spend in that place.

4.) Red, red wine. Smoking Loon Merlot, Carlo Rossi Paisano, Cupcake Shiraz…I love it all. Especially when paired with fresh mozzarella and a good movie.

5.) My closest friends, of course. And the rest of my wonderful, crazy family. They are the ones who hold us together, who keep us sane (and sometimes drive us nuts).

6.) Urban Decay 24/7  eyeliner.

7.) Red lipstick.

8.) Boots.

9.) Scarves.

10.) Pumpkin scented candles.

11.) Sarah McLachlan.

12.) Wawa Gobblers.

13.) Fall.

14.) Horror films.

15.) Flea markets.

16.) Good beer.

17.) Honey mustard.

18.) Garlic.

19.) Filet Mignon.

20.) Hairspray.

Got a little materialistic towards the end…but hey, sometimes it’s those little things that make us smile.

What are you thankful for this year?

Everyone have a safe and happy holiday.

I leave you with one of my favorite tunes by The Cranberries; I thought it was appropriate since tomorrow is Thanksgiving and all.

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When Your Novel Takes the Steering Wheel

You’ve discovered your greatest idea, worthy of molding into a novel; you’ve named the characters and created an outline; you think you know exactly how things will begin and end, and maybe you even know about all those twists and turns that make up the middle – the bulk of the story, all the really good stuff.

But let’s face it – who really knows exactly where their story will end up? I suppose there are a few, but the majority of writers would say that at some point, their characters took the wheel and made a left when the author had their turn right all planned out.

I began this novel with a lazy version of an outline, which really just consists of the names of the two main characters, their ages, and a measly list of background information. To be honest, it was more to prevent contradicting myself while this thing grows. After all, it’s pretty intimidating to be 100 pages in and about to mention a name, an age, or a date and have to make sure you get it right the second time around. It’s a lot to keep track of. If this thing ever goes to print, I’d hate to get bashed in a review because Angel’s mother died in 1965 in chapter one, but 1967 in chapter 23. Maybe the cream-of-the-crop writers will scoff at my concerns, and maybe it’s just me – but I have a horrible memory for tiny things like numbers, so I have to keep careful watch.

Anyway, as I was typing away last night my novel suddenly whispered in my ear, and told me to go somewhere I hadn’t planned on. Hearing about this whole “book writes itself” thing from a few writing professors in college, I decided to listen to that little voice and let the action swerve a little bit and possibly make an illegal turn.

The result: a little piece of creativity that I am very proud of. There is plenty of editing to be done, of course, but I was left with an interesting twist in the story line – just when I was getting scared that things might be getting boring – that I think others may enjoy, some day.

Once again, NaNoWriMo has been nothing but a huge help to me as a writer. My motivation to write is through the roof, and I’ve managed to push through even the worst of days, when I feel that my creative well has dried up. While my word count is a tiny bit behind (I’m trying not to beat myself up; some days in my life outside of writing have been busier than others), I’ve still managed to reach 103 pages of a novel. It’s rough, but it’s there. Woo hoo!!

How is NaNoWriMo going for everyone else who is participating?

As for those characters who have kicked you out of the driver’s seat: has anyone else experienced this? How did it affect your novel?

I just thought this bookmark was hilarious. Enjoy

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The Animated Author VS. The Negative Novelist

Our relationship with our writing functions just like any other normal relationship: lots of times there’s lovemaking, and sometimes you want to punch your significant other square in the mouth.

 

Yesterday my novel and I had a little tiff. (I’ve discussed our disputes before.) There was no violence involved, no tears; it was more like one of those arguments when you stomp off to opposite ends of the house and ignore each other for a while. She did me wrong, refused to provide me with the word count I needed, and I didn’t want to talk about it. I refused to admit any fault in the situation.

But this morning I came to terms with what I’d done and it was time to make up. So I opened her up and stroked the keys for a while. (I won’t go much further with that, some things are personal, you know?)

Long story short, we made up. Two hours later we were both left satisfied; my word count grew larger by the minute and she dropped into new pages, expanding to – wait a minute! 

Get your minds out of the gutter! I’m talking about writing here, people. The only magic being made here is on my Microsoft Word document. Sheesh!

Here’s my point: I experienced that little pocket of defeat that every writer, every artist, athlete, whatever, trips and falls into once in a while. But we all must remember how to take the good with the bad, and turn those frowns into big ol’ smiles with pride for our work. There’s gotta be happy times involved in this whole writing gig, after all – or what’s the point?

I fought my way through the crap and temporary writer’s block to a solid chapter that I’m proud of. Woo hoo!

An itsy bitsy peek at what’s goin’ on, if you find yourself interested:

My other experiences had all felt hollow. I’d gone through the motions of touch and sex for some other gratification, usually in the form of money or another necessity. Jessie filled me up when I was empty, and helped me stretch my dreams beyond a small apartment and an ignorant sibling. With him, time became elastic; I bounced between then and now and whatever could be. I ran my fingers along his spine and felt him throb against my thigh. All of my better judgment tumbled into the unknown. Suddenly my heart and mouth went to work before my brain, and the dreaded “I love you” escaped the tip of my tongue before I had time to swallow the words.

Jessie froze, still hovering in midair above me. I shrunk beneath him, searching for any reasonable escape from the confines of his arms that flanked my own. When all else failed, I laughed. I laughed long and hard, grabbing at my stomach to prevent it from ripping at the seams. It proved contagious, and soon he had the same strong breaths convulsing their way out of his lungs and into the ungraceful atmosphere.

“Let’s rewind,” I said.

“I think I can do that.” He flashed me a refreshing grin. I drank it all in.

I expected Malory to explode in a fit of exaggerated nerves, hurling questions at me like a slingshot; but the moment I’d admitted out loud the reality of what had happened, I felt an imaginary weight lifted from my shoulders. I held no actual guilt for doing away with the asshole, but it felt good to tell someone.

Malory was surprisingly calm, and casually took two cigarettes from her pocketbook. She put both to her lips and lit them. She passed me one and looked around us before turning in my direction.

“We’re more alike than you think, Angel.” The irritating shrill of her voice was gone. Now she sounded calm, sensual, in no rush. I stared at the prissy, naïve school girl in front of me and questioned who I thought she was. I’d always considered myself good at reading people, of seeing who they really were, past the materialistic crap. But time and time again I was proven wrong.

 

Back to my NaNoWriMo-ing.

 

 

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Shiny Object Syndrome

We are heavy into week two of NaNoWriMo and on day 10 I feel myself being pulled in several different directions, distracting myself from the larger task at hand. I climbed into bed last night, the alarm set for a bright and early 8AM, prepared to wake, eat a sensible breakfast, and get comfortable in front of my computer.

Instead, this is how my morning went:

10:30 – Finally climb out of bed. I’d been pressing “snooze” on my phone for the last 2 1/2 hours, but my body had been refusing to cooperate.

10:45 – Throw some wheat bread in the toaster and give each piece a light layer of butter and jelly. Somewhat sensible.

11:05 – Shiny object #1. The large sign in the window of Dunkin’ Donuts advertising Mint Hot Chocolate beckoned me into the store for a small cup of minty, chocolatey goodness.

11:30 – Wander the mall for a dress to wear to a wedding tomorrow. (How many people are getting married because it’s 11/11/11?) Do I need a new dress? Nope.

1:00 – An hour and a half spent wandering. Got a new dress. (It’s cute!) Leave the mall with plans to hit the gym before returning home to write, but instead I decide to go home and work out later, because I’m so eager to raise that word count.

1:25 – Sit down for a light lunch, promptly get distracted by the ID channel, and a show discussing murders of street walkers in Atlantic City. I try to justify this as research for my novel.

2:00 – Finally sit down at the computer, log into Facebook, and lazily scroll through the latest News Feed. Still haven’t gotten anything done.

2:10 – Log into WordPress and consider changing the theme of my blog. I decide not to.

2:15 – Decide to write a new post about being distracted from my writing.

2:23 – Still writing the post. Still not NaNoWriMo-ing.

And this is where I end my post, before I make an even larger fool out of myself. I’ve spent the first 4 hours of my day doing a lot of unnecessary junk. It’s time to – look! Shiny object!

In the words of Kurt Vonnegut, “so it goes”.

How do you un-glue yourself from the shiny objects?

Happy NaNoWriMo-ing, everyone!

 

 

“I can always be distracted by love, but eventually I get horny for my creativity.”
– Gilda Radner

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Writing, Gobblers, & the Life of a Waitress

Around here, Thanksgiving comes early.

The weekend dragged by; I worked a lot, serving those sort of customers who wave their hands frantically above their heads as if they were stranded on a desert island and have just spotted a plane overhead. But, no…they just desperately needed another Diet Coke.

My job brings me home covered in whipped butter and smelling like a pizza shop. By the end of the weekend, my uniform is smelling up the laundry room. But, these are the things you just accept in the restaurant business! It’s still worth it to walk out with your earnings at the end of the night.

OK – so I’m already breaking my vow to not write about NaNoWriMo, but I’ll keep it brief. My posts have lessened because of it! And I even typed “writing prompts” into Google a moment ago, because it’s been difficult for me to focus on anything except the mindset of an attractive young stripper in 1985. Alright, well I suppose I can think of other things…that mindset may make the rest of my daily life pretty interesting.

My point is that my creativity is fizzling! So, please, forgive me for my lack of entertainment this month. This is me assuming I am usually quite entertaining. No, no don’t tell me the truth – I’d rather go on thinking I’m awesome.

I’ll just make it to December with the always interesting posts of my favorite bloggers!

So on to the picture I posted up there. If you are not familiar with Wawa or the delicious, steamy, Thanksgiving-explosion-in-your-mouth Gobbler, I suggest you get your booty to the East Coast, or a state over this way that has Wawa (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia), or get someone to mail the amazingness to you (not sure how well that would go over).

I know each state has their own convenience store they know and love, so I’m just doing a bit of representin’ for my own area’s favorite place to get a drunken snack at 2AM. The “Phoodies” had lovely things to say about the Gobbler, including that it made them want to light up a doobie afterwards. How can you go wrong with that? “Final Judgement: YAY.”

I especially liked the first comment underneath the article:

  1. 1 Art Nov 6th, 2008 at 3:33 pm
    1. Big fan of the Wawa Gobbler. But turbocharge that jawn and add bacon. The smoked crunch completes the sandwich, making it my favorite on the touchscreen.

What isn’t better with bacon?

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Sometimes, my novel hurts me.

“Writing a novel is like making love, but it’s also like having a tooth pulled. Pleasure and pain. Sometimes it’s like making love while having a tooth pulled.”

Dean Koontz

Mr. Koontz hit the nail on the head with that one. With day 3 of NaNoWriMo breathing down my neck this morning, I put on my slippers, made myself some breakfast, and headed for the computer, feeling refreshed and ready to bang out a hefty word count. While I did get some work done (my word count has now reached 5,086!) I had to keep brushing away that feeling that crept its way up my spine and made my hands sweat: I was slowly approaching a brick wall. The anxiety managed to distract me away from the task at hand, but only for a few moments – you know, updating my Twitter status, sifting through some blogs, scanning the Facebook news feed. But I quickly shook the fear from my mind and kept on goin’. So – according to my NaNoWriMo “Stats” – I am on track to reaching 50,000 words by November 30th. This is good.

Every word that makes its way from my head to the keyboard to the virtual page is another step towards a finished first draft. This serves as my reminder, when I’m questioning why I stay in this abusive relationship. My novel may beat on me at times, but she makes me so happy! I swear! Maybe if I’d pay her more attention, she wouldn’t do these things to me.

“It’s not you, it’s me.” That’s what I tell her.

It’s only day 3, and I already owe NaNoWriMo and the thousands that are ripping their hair out along with me this month a huge “thank you” for the motivation you don’t even know you’re feeding me. Here’s hoping we each come out of the tunnel on the 30th with a first draft.

In the wise words of Dori the fish, even when times get hard:

Just keep swimming!

New vow: I will post about something other than NaNoWriMo this month. But it’s sort of hard to think about anything else during a month of “literary abandon”, is it not?

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I just like the cactus-dog named Bastardino.

Her leggings remind me of Peg Bundy.

Here it comes, boys and girls: another controversial something or other for parents all over the country to get worked up about. This time it’s the new Tokidoki “Gold Label” (ooo!!) Barbie, retailed at $50 but of course already sold out in stores. So, Amazon figured they’d sell it for the reasonable price of $602.49.

Guaranteed a few serious Barbie collectors already grabbed it at that price.

I for one am in full support of this funky, tatted doll. Mainly because I’m sorta funky, and definitely tatted. Her outfit and pink hair and intricate ink are fresh, and reminiscent of fashion and culture today. What’s so wrong with that?

Well of course, several parents feel it’s sending the wrong message to their kids. All the 11 year old girls will now want to dye their hair purple and go under the gun and wear silver, sparkly high heels and dress their pets in cactus suits. But what they’re not considering is this: when was Barbie ever a good role model for young girls? When did Ken ever preach positive body image? It’s alright for Barbie to have large breasts, a size zero waist and bleach blonde hair, but – oh no – don’t you dare put tattoos on her. Now you’ve crossed a line.

She can certainly encourage young girls to regurgitate their SpaghettiOs, but being a fashion-forward individual adorned with beautiful body art is sending the wrong message.

Look around, people. Barbie is simply getting with the times. And she’s certainly not the only thing that’s going to influence your child’s thought process. If you’d like to prevent anything that promotes individuality from entering their young minds, you’d better lock ’em in a closet. And I don’t really suggest that.

Cheers to you, Barbie. You’re a bad-ass.

In other news –

An update on NaNoWriMo Rebellion Day 1:

2,016 words finished this morning. Brain fried. Nine pages added to novel. Feeling good about it. Funny how a “deadline” can make the ideas flow from my fingertips so much easier.

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Q: What kind of ghost haunts a hen house?

A: A poultry-geist!

Ahahaha….hahaha….ha…ha…ha.

OK.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Today also happens to be my wonderful boyfriend’s Birthday (this is one of the reasons I believe us to be soul mates, seeing as Halloween is my favorite holiday), so a huge Happy Birthday to him as well.

I picked up cookies and cake mix and all types of wonderful things to decorate the cake I am going to make for him today, so I will post pictures of that later on. In the mean time we will watch some old horror movies, leave a bowl of candy out for the neighborhood children (which will probably be gone when the first child discovers that the bowl has been left unattended), and prepare for a wonderful night out for dinner and drinks at our favorite German restaurant.

I’m considering leaving the bowl on the front stoop and positioning myself in the upstairs window, ready to shout down at any little kid who tries to take off with all of the goodies. That would give them a good fright! And maybe make them cry. Bonus points. (Just kidding….)

NaNoWriMo kicks off in less than 24 hours and I’m nervous. Nervous because I have so much to get done tomorrow (and will probably be doing those things with a beer-induced headache), and I still have to fit in around 2,000 words. But I suppose us writers just find a way to make it happen, amIright? Excited. Scared. Ready to get-er-done.

So with the Halloween festivities officially among us, I will enjoy my last day of freedom before my novel takes over my life, with good food, good drinks, and good friends.

Oh, and here are some pictures of Joe and I from a Halloween party over the weekend. Don’t be too frightened!

The spooky masqueraders!

I swear it was a ghost that distorted this photo. It was probably just my crappy phone, but we'll stick with the ghost theory anyway.

What's Halloween, if you're not bloody?

Joe and I carved pumpkins on Friday night. In the time it took him to intricately carve one eye of his pumpkin, I finished mine. Maybe that’s why mine is so messy (his still isn’t finished!). I’m not much of a perfectionist (or a professional) when it comes to these things. But I was proud that the thing didn’t fall apart – at least, not right away…

I call him, Charlie.

Joe is a bit nervous about leaving the bowl of candy unattended. I told him I’ll just make a sign that says: “Take one. I’ll be watching.”

Muahaha….

Enjoy!

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