Friday, March 14, 2014

Camp NaNo : 1st Session (2014)

Are you camping this year? 

Guess what time of year it is?

Camp NaNo!

I've been changing my web badges all over the place, to show off the nice, cozy looking new icons for this year's April session of Camp NaNoWriMo. If you've never participated in a Nanowrimo noveling adventure, now is an excellent time to give it a shot. Camp NaNo is ten times more relaxed than the hardcore hyperness of NaNo in November and it's also very flexible.

How does it work?

Camp NaNo follows some of the basic rules of NaNoWriMo--mainly, to have fun, to write as much as you want or want to--in 30 days and cheer your fellow writers on.

Camp NaNo actually allows you to choose your own word count goals and it locks it in near the final week of the month, so you'll find the right balance between pushing yourself and an impossible challenge. Instead of the giant forums and nano hype from November, Camp NaNo places you into a virtual cabin of your own, (you can opt out if you like, or request up to five friends) where you can get to know your fellow writers and stay focused on your project.

There are Pep Talks, just like NaNo and there's even cool merch (check out this year's camper mug, it's awesome!), but the flexibility is what really calls to me. You can write as much or as little as you want and you can even define your project and genre.

It's pretty much a relaxed nanowrimo experience and if you'd like to give it a shot, now is a great time to try it! The first session is in this coming April and the second is in July. I am gathering my plot points and character bios together for the April session, I've already managed a title and a sort of working synopsis. If you'd like to request me in your cabin, you can message me as "scarletfury" and I'll be happy to add you.

Happy writing!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

5 Reasons to do NaNoWriMo 2013

Just in case my monster NaNo Post scared you off, here's the bare bones of my favorite writing adventure.

Why should you do NaNo? I don't know--but I'll gladly tell you why I do.

  1. It's fun. You get to join in on a crazy challenge with fellow writers of all ages all around the world. The NaNo community is absolutely amazing. 
  2. It's the easiest way to write a rough draft without agonizing over the details. If you tend to take forever to get something down on paper, NaNo will be fantastic for helping you to get in the habit of writing every day. 
  3. You'll actually have written something resembling a novel-manuscript in a decent rough draft if you give NaNo an honest-to-goodness actual attempt. Plan stuff. Plot. Or just take random notes. But go ahead and do it in the spirit it was meant to be enjoyed--pure fun. 
  4. Stress relief. I write quite a bit. Stories, papers, articles and so on. Most of the time, it's pretty serious writing, with heavy emphasis on perfect first drafts and things making sense from the get-go. NaNo lets me write like crazy and actual follow my writer's instincts in crafting the kind of story that made me want to start writing in the first place. 
  5. It's good writing practice. Some days I love sitting down to write. Other days, I could probably chuck my laptop out the window somewhere. NaNo reminds me that keeping a writing practice is important--and fun. Sometimes I don't want to write--at first--but once I start? I can't stop. 

If you've never tried NaNo before, I'd advise you to give it a shot and take it as easy or seriously as you want. Join me. Try it. Enjoy it. Have fun.

See you in November!


T-2 Days to NaNo 2013

Whew! It's been a busy week.

There are exactly two days left to NaNoWriMo, the  2013 edition and my month of yearly crazy, creative hyper and constant speed writing. Actually, it's not as crazy as it sounds, but I kind of like the little touch of crazy there, because it reminds me that NaNo is all about writing--and having fun while you do it.

So, now that it's almost NaNo, I mean, November, it's time for my obligatory NaNoWriMo Post. I try to do these earlier in the month in hopes of dragging more innocent interested writers into the adventure with me, but as this is my graduating semester at University and as a 4th year ML(Municipal Liaison), I've been plugging NaNo around on campus, rather than my blog.

But, I would never forget my loyal readers, so here's the updated "Why I do NaNo" in complete excessive rambling style. The short version will follow shortly.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month where the goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 Days. Wouldja like to hear my campus pitch? I've been practicing it for nearly the entire month and somehow, (big surprise!), it seems to sound better in written words than the spoken ones.

Alrighty, here we go!:

What is it?
NaNoWriMo, shortened to NaNo, is an international, month-long, non-profit writing event for writers all around the world. The idea is to write a novel (or novel-length manuscript) of 50,000 words during the month of November in a mere 30 Days. As crazy as that sounds, it's a tremendous amoung of fun with an amazingly supportive writing community of like-minded writers. It was founded in 1999 by Chris Baty out of Berkley CA. NaNo is now in its 15th year.

Where does it happen? 
Everywhere! Literally half a million writers will be joining in the NaNo madness this year in over 600 regions across 7 continents. It's going to be amazing. To know where local events (such as writer meet-ups and weekly write-ins) are hosted, home in to your local region by finding your state and the closest city. If your city isn't listed, try the "elsewhere" region--you'll find online events and chatrooms where you can participate.

When does it happen? 
As mentioned above, NaNo takes place in November. Too busy in November? A more relaxed, stripped down version of NaNo called Camp NaNoWriMo takes place in Spring and Summer with alternate months. For instance, this year, they ran Camp NaNo's for April and July. The year before was June and August.

Who participates? 
You! and me! and any other writer interested in using NaNo as a kick in the pants to get some words down on a page. You do not have to write fiction to qualify to give NaNo a shot. It is free for everyone to join. To sweeten the deal, there's a touch of the real writing world with the solid Nov 30th deadline, prompts to keep up with your project through a daily word count goal and encouraging pep talks from famous authors like James Patterson and Lemony Snicket. (writers under 13 can participate in the YWP).

What do you win?
Web badges. A certificate. Up to 50% off amazing writing software for both Mac and PC, such as Scrivener and Storyist, as well as discounts on editing packages. You will also receive up to 2 free proof copies of your book through Amazon's POD, CreateSpace. And of course, you'll have a rough draft or a Zero draft, if it's rougher than rough, to help jumpstart your writing project. The hardest part of novel writing can be starting or continuing, NaNo helps you to build forward momentum and get the story out. Because it's quite difficult to edit/publish something you haven't written yet, eh?

Why should you do this? 
Because it's fun. No, I'm not kidding. Writing should be fun, something enjoyable and refreshing. Sometimes it's easy to get lost in all the technical points or the difficulties of writing a specific draft or required proposal that you forget why you started writing in the first place. Every year, I look forward to NaNo because it's pure stress relief. I can do what I do best--unleash my creativity on a blank novel-shaped canvas--and I can have fun doing it. There is no pressure to share, edit or craft perfect sentences, I just write what I'd want to read--a really fantastic story. Through NaNo, I have produced several decent drafts of novels in the process of being edited, reworked and someday, will be published. I owe this to NaNo. I would recommend that every writer give it an honest shot, at least once. If you hate it, fine, but at least you would have tried it.

How do you do this? 
This is actually my favorite section in my presentation. How do you do NaNo? Honestly, one word at a time. No, I'm not being smart, I'm being serious. I sit down and I write one word after the other and I keep on doing this until the end of November and sometimes into December or January, so I can finish the story. November is a ridiculously busy time for me, but I have a fantastic time thinking and puzzling through the finer points of writing my story, getting to know the characters and bringing it all together. 50k words works out to be 1667 words a day or 1700, if you want to round up. Most of us write about 1000 words a day on a daily basis, through emails, texts and random things like notes to family and grocery lists. 1667 isn't that hard.

Ah yes, the rules. It's simple. Don't write anything before November 1st. Nothing. Nada. Zip. You can outline and plot and character sketch and world build to your heart's content, just don't actually start writing until November 1st. You're welcome to keep writing after Nov 30th.

If that sounds a little crazy, let me mention something interesting--writers like Sara Gruen(Water for Elephants) and Erin Morgenstern(The Night Circus)--wrote their first drafts during NaNo. Then they polished them up and sent them out. Pretty inspiring, huh?

This year's theme is 8-bit, just in case you were wondering about the pixelated web badges, the theme changes every year. Last year was Venn Diagrams(very cool!) and they are free for your blog, website, Facebook, Twitter and everything, so you can find fellow wrimos and declare your noveling passion.

The bottom line?

Go ahead and give NaNo a shot, because it's pretty hard to edit something that you've never written. If you'd like to novel along with me, find me here as ScarletFury. Feel free to add me as a buddy or drop me a nanomail. I love hearing from fellow Wrimos.

Happy nanoing!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

NaNoWrimo Prep: Book Cover (2013)

Well, it took me the greater part of an hour, but I think I have something that resembles the image in my head for this year's NaNo Novel.

I've finally decided on the title of Broken Glass with the logline, "Something twice broken can't be once repaired." I may change that later on, but for the most part, that's what I've got. The FMC's name is finally official, Cynthia Harlocke. I'm so excited!

It took forever to decide on a name that I truly loved and I think her best friend's name is shaping up to be Marcella or Marliandra, something like that. We'll see.

Anyway, that's the story behind the new cover and banner. Let me know what you think and feel free to share some of your own NaNoPrep adventures. Did you settle on a title for your NaNo? How 'bout a cover or banner? Let me know in the comments below. I'll be happy to swing by and take a look.

If you want to find me on NaNo, click here for the link to my profile. Happy weekend!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

It's NaNo Time! (2013)

It's NaNoWriMo Time!

Can you guess what time of year it is?

If the post title didn't give you the most obvious hint, then please plug your ears while I scream at the top of my lungs--well, I guess, I mean, I could type in capital letters or something. Never mind, that. Ignore the hyper.

It's NaNoWriMo time!

I am gearing up in full Nano mode and you can expect plenty of nano-themed posts to be making their way out of my brain, down my fingertips and onto this blog. Currently, I'm dealing with the student headache known as "midterms" so all coherency in regards to NaNo, will have to wait until I'm done.

In the meantime though, if you were waiting for the news alert, here it is!

This year's Nano theme is 8-bit, so check out the cool retro graphics employed for this year, like the 8-bit coffee mug on my ML badge. Yes, I am back again for another year of MLing. It's about as addictive as the novel-writing itself. ;) I've earned my year 3 pin and I can't wait to get some nano-themed pictures up.

Until midterms are over,
Happy writing!


Thursday, August 15, 2013

D is for Dunkin Donuts

A to Z blog hop at Patterings.
3rd round of A2Z blog meme. Click the pic for more info. 

Hi and welcome dear reader!

I've been thinking about this week's post all week. I was rehearsing inside of my head all the different ways I could tackle my topic and I finally settled on D for Dunkin' Donuts. I hope you like donuts. See, I have this fabulous memory with my Dad and wait--I'm getting ahead of myself here.

Sit down and find a cup of something to drink, then come back. I can wait.

Back? Lovely! Let's get started.

My Dad and I have always been travelers. As long as I can recall, we've both shared a love for exploring new places and long, trips for the fun of it. Any trip, as long as I have nothing important "pending" (homework, a job, more homework, a writing deadline and so on), I can easily pack myself up and into the car, jeep, van or whatever it is that is going somewhere and give my soul the break it has been clamoring for. Traveling is a way to recharge my enormous, expressive imagination and I have many fond memories of sitting with my head craned to the side, watching things pass by.

I love to be on my way somewhere, to see the different scenery passing in the customary blur of color, to listen to a song on repeat for hours until I've memorized all the lyrics and I can pitch my voice fairly close to the actual artist, to have those wonderful conversations that only surface after you've been driving for at least two hours. Some of my fondest childhood memories come from spending time with my Dad on the road trips we took together.

As a traveling companion, I'm cheerful (most of the time), awake (except for the times when I'm sleeping), a good DJ (I never make a playlist, so I'm pretty much guessing at the next song based on the atmosphere in the vehicle) and I only need to make the occasional stop (Translate = I ran out of chocolate chip cookies or bottled water).

That said. While I am mostly incapable of reading a map, I can accurately follow, program and read directions or a GPS. I am a nightowl because morning does not agree with me, so I don't mind traveling late into the night or staying up past a standard bedtime. I've always had a knack for picking decent travel music to keep everyone happy, so it's probably a good thing I don't usually make playlists. Tic-tac is also a good "munching habit" when I've run out of cookies.

Anyway, back to the topic. I can honestly say that traveling with my dad is a real treat, especially when it's just the two of us. We share many things in common, with a few exceptions. Up until my university "career" I was strongly opposed to anything coffee related, in any shape, scent or form.

Dad has dozens of stories where I would ask him to stop drinking coffee, due to the silly stories I'd hear about it. "Coffee makes your head hard" "Coffee keeps you up so you can't sleep." "Getting less than two hours of sleep is worse than driving drunk" and so on. I was absolutely convinced that my dear old Dad would somehow manage to send himself to an early grave because of this ridiculous coffee habit.

Of course, once I entered University, I learned about that precious little energy booster by the name of caffeine. I'd made it through community college fueled by Dr. Pepper and the occasional bar of Kit-Kat. Uni required something a little more heavy duty and preferably with less sugar.

Enter Coffee.

Oh how I dreaded the very word. I can't really tell you how I ended up drinking it in the first place. I don't actually remember. I'm still utterly convinced that it's horrible and tastes awful. But I can tell a good cup from a "bad" one and I know exactly how I like  also still drink a medium-sized with six creamers and no sugar. Dad takes a small-size with five creams and no sugar. I guess that's one thing we don't quite do in perfect synchronization.

While I don't remember how I ended up starting a coffee habit in addition to my tea-drinking obsession (and trust me, it really is an obsession!), I remember why I didn't stop. See, trips make for interesting conversation possibilities when you have a setting where x amount of human beings are crammed in a small space with no possible exit for  hours and miles on end.

It means you might have conversations you never thought you would have or you would say things that you finally worked up the courage to say. It also means if it's just me and Dad, I have his attention all to myself and I can ramble on about whatever I like or we can take turns. It also meant there were treats involved, things like donuts and coffee.

I should warn you right now that I am a loyal Dunkin Donuts gal for life.

This is partially my Dad's fault (just like the coffee habit!), but he can only claim half-credit here. I've had folks try to convert me to Krispy Kreme before and it didn't work. They tried. They really did, bless their sugared little hearts.

No, I'm serious. It didn't work. Krispy Kreme donuts are smaller, they rattle in the box and they can't make a decent Boston Cream donut. They also come in this ridiculous box of green and white, with a hint of a pink or red, that reminds me of ivy and Christmas in July and it just doesn't work.

My precious Dunkin' Donuts on the other hand, they make a mean Boston Cream (and a pretty good Bavarian Cream, if they're out of the Boston one) and their donuts fill up the entire box. They also have a nicer color scheme.

If you don't know how partial I am to colors already, then you can brush up your memory on this post. I treat my colors like crayons. Very seriously. Dunkin' donuts has a cheerful hot pink and orange, mixed with a warm coffee brown, a lighter shade of tan (or gold, if you must nitpick) and of course, a solid white background. I am quite fond of it.

I should also mention that I can't vouch for their coffee.

Well, kind of. See, I'm not very picky about my coffees--yet, if it's a good cup, it's a good cup. If it's bad, I'll pawn it off on *cough*Dad*cough*, and I'll try something else or reach for a good ol' Dr. Pepper. However, Dad is picky about his coffee and I trust his judgment as far as his coffee tastes go. Dunkin Donuts are good for donuts. Get your coffee before you get your donut. Then enjoy them together.

Now, before you start wondering how I made it into my twenties without ordering some kind of latte, allow me to the stress the term of "coffee." I never said anything about lattes, frappes, espressos and mochas. They can have their own post.

This week's letter for solely for the donuts and Dad.

It feels something like this:

Cups of coffee : $10.00
Dozen donuts : $10.00
Trip with Dad? Priceless.

I'm not addicted to coffee, (I save that for my precious tea habit) and I don't have caffeine withdrawals, (though I will whack you with a spatula if you dare give me decaf), but if you ever have the time and you'd care to go for coffee?

I can handle that.

And if you ever stop by for a visit and I know that you don't drink tea, well, I've been told that I make a pretty good cup of coffee, so call before you come and I'll put the pot on.

A great big bundle of thanks belongs to my Dad here, so, thanks Dad, for that. See, I love that my best memories of an everyday routine (getting a sweet breakfast treat or a hot beverage) remind me of happy, carefree days and good, solid conversations.

and thank you, dear reader, for stopping by my blog today. Have a lovely weekend!


Friday, August 9, 2013

C is for Coconut Smoothie (Recipe included)

A to Z blog hop at Patterings.
3rd round of A2Z blog meme. Click the pic for more info. 
I love coconuts.

Seriously. I do.

They are amazing fruits with so many good benefits and it just plain tastes good. I'm a tropical girl at heart, so anything coconut related is worth a try, at least once. I will state right now that the only coconut candy I do like, are those Mounds bars, but never mind that. There's very few coconut things that I've actually tried that I didn't like.

Most of the time, it was worth the experience of trying something new and discovering what amazing foodstuffs exist in this big ol' world.

Anyhow, my newest summer trend is to whip together a tasty sweet treat with enough sugar and ice to stave off the heat for a little bit. Natural Popsicles, milkshakes and smoothies have made their appearance in my kitchen, so I thought that this week, I would treat you to one of my quick fixes for a summer sweet tooth.

Pina Colada  is a lovely flavor, especially for yogurt and popsicles. It's also very easy to make, if you have the right ingredients on hand. I love pineapple and I adore coconut, so the opportunity to mix these two together seem spot on.

So here we go for a quick, simple smoothie recipe.

Depending on how sweet you want your smoothie to be, you can use sweetened or unsweetened coconut milk for your base. Sometimes I add a little regular milk, just for smoothness (Almond or Oat milk works really well too!), a ripe banana (the ripeness of the banana will help with the sweetness factor) and of course, some pineapple.

I tend to use a 1:1 ration for the coconut and pineapple, but if you need numbers, I'll make it simple. Keep in mind that I like to mix things up, so this recipe may be slightly more complex than a basic smoothie.

Sara's Tropical Coconut-Pineapple Dream Smoothie.  (Why on earth does it have such a long name?!)

1 Cup coconut juice/water/milk (sweetened or unsweetened according to taste)
1 Cup pineapple chunks
1/4 Cup milk (soy, rice, almond or oat is fine)
2 tablespoons honey or liquid syrup if you're using canned pineapple.
4 Ice cubes
1 teaspoon ground flaxseeds (golden flax)
1 Banana (frozen/ripe)

Cut fruit into chunks. Blend until smooth. Add the honey last, only IF it needs to be sweeter. Most of the time, you won't need it unless your pineapple is fresh (and sour!), so do a taste test before you add it. The flaxseed will thicken your smoothie to an almost milkshake consistency, so make sure you add the ice cubes, to balance it out.

Do not store it in the fridge, drink it the same day. You can garnish with coconut shreds, pineapple wedges, fruity ice cubes or whatever you like. It makes approximately about three or four servings, depending on the size of said servings. It can also be frozen to make popsicles, if you skip the flax seed and add a few spoons of yogurt.

Anyway, enjoy! Happy almost-end-of-Summer. ^_^

Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 2, 2013

B is for Ballpoint

A to Z blog hop at Patterings.
3rd round of A2Z blog meme. Click the pic for more info. 
I had the oddest little conversation the other day--actually, it was on Facebook. I say odd, because I'm rarely on there and when I am, it's usually for something writing related. Anyway, a friend had posted something about clicky pens and I just couldn't resist expressing my opinion.

Ho-hum, as Benny Alden would say.

It seems that we'll have to agree to disagree on that point.

I'm very picky about my writing instruments. As lovely and fantastic as plumed quills and custom-made fountain pens are, I prefer Zebra gel ink pens (black or blue ink) and the basic BIC Round Stic Grip ballpoint pens--with a cover.

I don't use pencils any more, not since I discovered that pens don't fade anywhere near as bad as pencils do. They are also made of a lovely thin plastic with just the right amount of bite. I've never chewed pencils, but I do occasionally nibble on my pen.

I never lend that particular pen to anyone--ever, and I will write with it until I've exhausted every drop of ink. While some folks may prefer a clicky pen, I despise them on the grounds that they are noisy and heavy. If you don't believe me, sit in a room with a two-year-old and give them a clicky pen.

You'll take it back in about five seconds, unless of course, that sort of repetitive noise helps you to focus or something. Whatever gets your words out. I won't judge you--much. As for it being heavy, well, face it. A good light ballpoint pen with a traditional pen cap, lightens considerably when you take the cap off of it. There's less weight and the very thin rubber grip does provide a decent writing experience. It also doesn't warp your notebook or harm the pen if you stick it between the pages before cramming it into your bag of choice.

Anyway, I did not mean to start out on a rambling rant about ball point pens. I think I just didn't have any brainpower to spare--oh wait, that starts with B too...

Thanks for stopping by!