Monthly Archives: September 2012
I’ve managed to get a more decent amount of editing done this week than the last couple. It helped that I’ve been visiting friends in Lancaster, which involves a 2 1/2 hour train journey up and again back down. Whilst I haven’t used the full 2 1/2 hours each way to edit, I used some. And I managed to do a bit of editing whilst we were just chilling out and watching TV as well. After some working out, I’ve realised I’m over 2/3 of the way through my first edit! Woohoo!
But this isn’t about how much I have or haven’t edited this week, not really. On Friday when I was sat on the train, reading and editing my novel, I found something wonderful. I found a beautiful minor plot point that I had forgotten about entirely! Why was it beautiful? Because that fleeting young plot point is going to become all grown up in book two! And will blossom into a crucial element of book three!
Have you ever done that? Read something you wrote months ago and found a piece of writing which absolutely makes your year writing-wise? The thing is, at the time I wrote it I’m pretty sure I was just trying to add words but now it’s added flesh to the barely even bones of my outlines for books two and three. I was really excited! I’d had a very stressful Friday and finding that absolutely made everything okay again.
There is a great thrill in reading over your own work and loving the story. The general consensus is always say “write what you know”or “write what you’d read” etc. It’s the idea that if you’d get bored reading it, you’d get bored writing it, so you won’t care as much if it’s any good. It makes sense, when you think about it. But, even though you know that when you’re writing a genre you enjoy, it still comes as a surprise when you really enjoy reading your own book. You find that you remember the plot and the big turning points but you don’t remember the Gems. The intricate details that make the story work. And when you read them, it makes you feel like a “real” writer. It does me anyway. It reminds me that if I wasn’t at least partially good at this, I wouldn’t still be plodding along with it. It’s a great feeling to have.
It helps if you ever plan on being published, as well. If you write a genre that you often read and you enjoy the story from a reader’s point of view, there’s a good chance that your potential future readers will enjoy it as well!
Apologies for the shorter blog post this week. It’s been a busy weekend and I have plans to chill out for a couple of hours before bed.
Don’t forget – I’m still running a competition to win this quirky handmade plot bunny!
Entry is simple and I will post to anywhere in the world! Extra entries for Facebook and Twitter shares, too! Just click here.
As I write this, this blog has reached 1,009 views in 28 countries! I am SO excited! Thank you so much to everyone who’s been reading! I hope you continue to do so.
In honour of my 1,000 views, I am doing a
Now imagine that in the style of a children’s TV show when the presenters go nuts and wild, wacky music plays and the word ‘Competition’ runs across the screen in bunny hop jumps.
Why bunny hop jumps? Simple. This is the prize:
Meet Bobby. Bobby is a quirky, handmade (yes, seriously, made by yours truly) sock plot bunny who’s unblinking, loving stare will watch over you as you write.
How do you win? Also simple!
I talk a lot about my own writing (well, it IS my blog…) but I want to know about your writing. Leave a comment on this blog post telling me what your favourite story that you have ever written is. And it could be anything from that first few paragraphs you wrote aged 10 to your masterpiece novel. I’m not judging on content or on which story I think sounds the coolest, I just want to know what you’ve enjoyed writing. Everyone who comments will have their name written on a piece of paper and placed into a hat (yes, I have a hat) and the winner will be drawn at random.
For a second entry tweet the following comment:
“Name your favourite piece that you’ve written on Spilt Hot Chocolate and win a handmade plot bunny! http://tinyurl.com/ccuur6g #PlotBunnyComp #SHC”
Please make sure you include your Twitter name in your comment so I know who has a second entry. If I can’t match you up, it won’t count. ‘Cause I ain’t psychic. (Unfortunately…)
If you don’t have Twitter, share this post on Facebook and let me know in your comment that you’ve done so! (Note, there is no third entry for sharing this on both Facebook AND Twitter, although you’re more than welcome to do so!)
Everyone in every country is eligible to win! I will post to any address in the world. Winner will be announced in ONE WEEK!
This is to show my appreciation for everyone who is reading my babble. I love you all.
My flat currently has Internet troubles. Amongst other things to try and fix it I logged into the administrative site for our broadband to see if any settings needing playing with and noticed that I could see all the names of computers that had ever connected to the wireless box.
Out of 18 different electronic items, mine were the only ones called something other than “Name-PC” or a default mess of numbers and letters.
Is that weird? I know I’m not the only person to name my electronics, but is it more the norm to have your own name as your PC’s name? When I first got a laptop in 2004, I did name it “Suzanne’s Laptop” or something but my second laptop, my netbook and my current phone all have actual names! They’re huge parts of my life (especially my wonderful netbook. I don’t know how I coped without it).
I realise at this point you’re wondering what my various electronics are actually called:
Laptop: Sandy Claws
Jack and Sandy Claws are named after characters in The Nightmare Before Christmas, a favoured obsession of mine, and Amalthea is the name of the unicorn in The Last Unicorn when she’s turned human. The Last Unicorn has been a favourite movie since I was a kid and when I eventually read the book as an adult, I loved the book too. I’ve seen both movies more times than I can count so it was only natural that I name my beloved items after characters.
Right now I feel guilty about my MP3 player. It doesn’t have a name and I use it every day. I’ll christen it before the end of the blog post.
How about you guys? Do you name your electronics? What about other inanimate objects? I know everyone names their stuffed animals so I’m not counting those (I have Teddy and Frosty by my side right now).
Which leads me into another question if you do name your electronics, or other items:
Do writers name their items more than non-writers? Is it an innate desire to create living things out of nothing?
I know my mum calls her car Bessie, but aside from that, I don’t know anybody else who names the things around them.
I feel as writers, we probably using things such as our computers more than a lot of other people (probably with the exception of programmers, systems developing etc) as, in the technological age, we mostly type our work straight into a Word document, Google document, Scrivener, yWriter or another similar piece of software. And as we write, we create. We create worlds, stories and characters. And we name those worlds and characters. They become our children, the focus of a lot of our attention as we watch them grow and sculpt them into what we initially hoped they would be. Surely, then, it’s natural to become attached to the very object which is allowing you to make these creations a reality. And therefore, as the chain continues, to want to name that object and care for it as it is caring for the story you’re writing.
It may be viewed as unhealthy to become attached to a computer. Computers grow old, start having problems and eventually need to be replaced. When this happens, it’s like saying goodbye to an old friend. When six year old Sandy Claws eventually gives up the ghost, it will be sad day.
So, do you name your electronics? What do you name them? Are they named after characters of favourite books/movies/TV shows or just random names?
If you are a non-writer reading this, do you name your electronics, too?
P.S. As promised, my MP3 played has been christened ‘Lír’ who is the prince from The Last Unicorn. (I choose to continue the theme.)
Every so often I’m going to dip into my memory and regale you with stories of previous NaNos. As far as I can remember anyway…
By 2006 I had wracked up three successful NaNo’s and was about to embark on my fourth. Previous years involved writiing a teen angst story, a rip off of Underworld and a fantasy involving another world that I actually kinda liked but never got anywhere with it – it was competing with Lord of the Rings for pointless walking about.
I started 2006 with a title, rather than a plot. It was called ‘Phoenix Rising’ (to this day, I still love that title) and I’m not afraid to admit that I got the idea for the title after watching X-Men 3. Twice. (Can you believe I paid to see that sorry excuse for an X-Men movie twice?) For those of you who haven’t seen X-Men 3, the movie’s antagonist’s X-name was ‘Phoenix’. But I digress.
It’s rare for me to start with a title. Usually I started with an idea which floats around for a few weeks/months and then I’ll suddenly come up with a title. But that year, I started with the title. And I didn’t know what to do with it! I knew I wanted to use it but I obviously needed a story which would fit the title. I ended up taking the idea of ghosts and where ghosts come from and why some people see ghosts and others don’t and running with it. And boy did I run! I took that idea and before I knew where I was, I had an alternate world which nested comfortable on top of ours which was about to reach a climax in a years long battle that would affect the lives of everyone on Earth. I was hot! I had a prophecy and everything. And, more importantly, I fit the story around the title. You want somebody to rise out of the metaphorical ashes? Then, by hook or by crook, you are going to get somebody!
I seriously loved that novel. I had to rush the ending as I wanted to finish it by the end of November so the Big Battle was reduced to about two pages, if that, but I did reach the ending. That was the first novel I had written which meant anything to me. I loved the story, I loved my main character. I did start to tentatively edit it and even submitted the first chapter as part of my final creative writing portfolio in university. I still have full intentions to return to the story one day, even if it means re-writing it from scratch. It could be turned into a trilogy as well so I’m already thinking that when I’m done with my current trilogy, I’m dust off Phoenix Rising and get to work.
But why am I babbling about my first novel love? Because I want to make the point that you shouldn’t dive into NaNo expecting to walk out with the Next Biggest Thing. I walked into three NaNos and knew by the end those stories would never again see the light of day. And, with the exception of my teen angst novel which my friend giggled over a couple of years ago (with my permission), they haven’t. But you are practising. You are writing rubbish that you don’t care about and you are sucking at it. You are preparing for the Big Novel. The one that means something, the one which lights up your eyes and you fall in love with and want to cherish and care for it. The one that nestles into your heart and stays there, no matter what happens next. It might not be the greatest writing ever, but it’s a story you want to keep safe. Because one day you’ll be able to work with it the way it deserves (almost walked into another excuse to use the Dark Knight Quote then!) Not everything you write will deserve editing. It won’t. But they are paving the way for the stories that will be everything you want them to be. It’s why you should never stop writing.
I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t until another three NaNos had passed until I fell for another novel of mine and that’s the one I’m editing now. (It makes me worry if that’s the trend seeing as I’m writing the sequel this year!) I even had one novel that not only was utterly ridiculous but I also hated my MC and killed her off before the story was finished and had to bring in an entirely new character to be the MC until the novel was over. I am never touching that mess again! But that’s a story for another blog…
This is a very bitty blog that is generally catching up on a few things which I’ve been meaning to mention and haven’t.
I have been nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award by Cat over at The Struggle to be a Writer That Writes HUGE thank you, Cat! Cat’s blog is about her journey through writing and is a very refreshing read. As my blog is still fairly new, it’s lovely to have my blogging appreciated by a fellow NaNo-er. Getting the message this morning made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and who doesn’t like to feel all warm and fuzzy on a Sunday morning? (Or any morning, for that matter!)
There are rules for accepting the award, with the first one being that I have to tell you seven things about myself. (At this point I had to go and read what I’ve already told you under ‘The Author’ section as I feel repeating points would be cheating.)
- I am a proud fan of John Barrowman and spent my morning queuing in Bluewater shopping centre to get a book signed by him and his sister. (Worth it!)
- I dabble in origami from time to time.
- I thought the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic mascots were cute, which I’m pretty sure puts me in a minority.
- My best friends span across three continents.
- I still sleep with my favourite teddy bear. I got him when I was 18 months old, which makes him 24 1/2 years old! A couple of years ago the seam down his back split and I cried.
- Halloween is my second favourite time of the year. (Behind Christmas.)
- I plan on attending The Night of Writing Dangerously in 2014.
Ta-da! Didn’t you wish you’d saved those few minutes of your life rather than use them to fill your head with worthless facts about me? Mwahaha.
And now I get to nominate five other blogs for this prestigious award! *clears throat*:
- Kelly Cautillo – Kelly’s book reviews make me feel guilty about all the books I feel I should have read but haven’t. My to-read list is slowly getting longer!
- Lauren’s Playground – More reviews and general chit chat. Lauren covers books, films, TV, everything! There’s some of her own writing thrown into the mix as well!
- Zen Scribbles – A very regularly updated blog covering all things writing and reading and general thought trails.
- Bad Books, Good Times – They read the bad books so you don’t have to. I’m currently working my way through their thoughts on 50 Shades of Grey. Highly entertaining reading!
- The Horrifically Horrifying Horror Blog – If you’re into horror, pretty much of any sort, this is a fun blog to keep an eye on.
Welcome to the award! In order to accept the award, you must follow these four steps:
- Copy and paste the award logo onto a post.
- Thank and link back to the person who nominated you.
- List seven things about yourself.
- Nominate five other blogs.
Now go forth and spread the blogging love!
National Novel Writing Month is in the running for a grant! Chase Community Giving has $5M to give out to non-profits. And how do they decide which non-profits get the money? It’s simple. The ones with the most votes! The higher up the leaderboard the company is, the more they get from the $5M on offer. As I write this, NaNoWriMo is at number 19. This is amazing! But we can get them higher! All you have to do is click the link below to go directly to their vote page on Facebook, accept the app (it’s a very non Big Brother-y app, I promise), and hit the ‘vote’ button! Then share it with your friends!
Voting closes in THREE DAYS! September 19th is the deadline. Every vote counts.
As I write this, my blog has had 871 views. Which is amazing! I seriously love you guys. So, I decided that when I hit 1,000 views, I’m running a competition for you all. And to snag your interest, here is a photograph hint of what the prize will be:
I have a blog post ready and waiting to go, so as soon as 1,000 views are reached, the competition will run! You interested? Start gathering views!
That’s a really good question. And… no. I haven’t edited today. But! I’m totally going to. I promise! After ignoring Scrivener wanting to update for about a month, I decided to finally let it update. That update is taking much, much longer than I thought it would. After 15 minutes of downloading the update, it’s only downloaded 15%… And when it’s finished download, it has to install the update.
I hope it doesn’t take all night.
Back to my original question and answer. After all my blogs of how I was going to get my novel edited before November and how having my desk was going to help, I didn’t edit. I maybe poked it with a virtual stick but I didn’t edit. And I pretended to feel bad about it. But, the truth is, I’m a horrible procrastinator. I’m pretty sure it’s trait which comes with writing. There’s so many other less important things to do which are suddenly more exciting! If I don’t check Twitter every few minutes, I might miss something! (I wish I was joking. But, sadly, I’m not. I’ve got Twitter open on Chrome right now and on my task bar I can see it says I have 13 new tweets to read. It’s killing me that I’m ignoring it.)
On Sunday, I decided to Do Something About It. So I made a sign. I made a sign out of bright orange paper and stuck it on the wall above my desk where I can’t help but see it. And that sign?
And on Sunday, I edited! On Monday, I edited again! It was brilliant! I actually guilted myself into editing my novel. I felt good, it was fun to get my novel moving again and I figured I may be able to at least get through the first edit by November.
And then on Tuesday, I didn’t edit. I went swimming after work and by the time I got back and had a shower and something to eat, it was late and I was tired and blah blah blah. But I didn’t edit. I pushed the guilt aside.
So now my sign has a friend:
And if I do edit:
And right now I’m considering adding a sad face for when I haven’t edited and a happy face for when I have. See? Procrastination at its finest! By the time the novel is finished, I’ll have a wall of messages to myself. I’m not sure if that’s pushing the boundaries of sanity or not.
My point is, it’s possible to make yourself feel bad and it can take more than staring at the paused DVD on your TV and debating whether to stop watching so you can write/edit. Because staring at the TV from the comfy-ness of your chair will not ensure you write. It will ensure that the DVD will stare back and force you to stay right where you are.
You need something that you have to move or hide or fix in order to avoid writing. Put a post-it note on your TV, on the fridge, on your current book of choice. Have your post-it note be blunt, be mean. Turn it into its own little post-it note character who won’t let you do what you want to do until you’ve done what you need to do. Have the post-it note stalk you around the house, taunting you until you sit down and write 500 words, or edit four pages. The post-it note is your worst enemy, yet it’s the best friend you’ll never realise you have. It allows you to hate it so you can be the person you want to be. Because it can take it. Because it’s not your hero. It’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight.
I got way too much into that didn’t I?
Highly personified post-it notes aside, you need to be strong enough to set up the reminder in the first place and let it guilt you. I don’t like sitting at my desk with a blunt “Why not?” tagged onto “Have you edited today?” Because I can’t answer it. I never have an excuse good enough for why I haven’t even given 10 minutes to my novel. But I know I can’t remove the “Why not?” until I have removed the need for the question to be there. So, I sit down and I edit. And then I can turn over my “Why not?” into “Yay!” and my world is a happier place.
I’m no longer entirely sure where this blog is going… my brain keeps conjuring vivid memories of the dream I had between 7:05am and 7:30am which involves our toilet breaking and water shooting up out of it, especially when I managed to disconnect the toilet bowl from the pipe underneath which looked more like a shower pipe. My dream self got very wet.
Also I keep thinking that it’s Friday.
But, yeah, guilt yourself with colourful notes. Your future self will thank you for it.
Let’s begin at the bottom. What is NaNoWriMo exactly? NaNoWriMo is short for ‘National Novel Writing Month’. (Don’t be put off by the name, it’s actually an international event now but InNoWriMo doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.) NaNoWriMo challenges you to write 50,000 words in 30 days and takes place in November every year. The idea is that you write a full novel but there are debates over whether 50,000 words would constitute a novel and a lot of NaNoers find at 50,000 words their novel isn’t finished anyway.
So, we’ll stick with just writing 50,000 words in a month.
These have to be 50,000 brand new words. Technically, you are allowed to continue a piece you’ve already started on (this would make you a NaNoWriMo Rebel!) as long as you write 50,000 previously unwritten words during November. You can write about anything! After all, it’s your novel.
So, you’ve learnt what NaNoWriMo and have decided to “give it a go.” Making this decision is the first step in what will end up being a succession of many, many steps (some of these steps may turn into crawling on hands and knees, especially around week two… but I digress.) But how do you actually write a novel in a month? Great question! Here are my hints and tips for first time NaNoers:
- Don’t look back. Seriously, don’t. Once you’ve written something, it’s written, it counts towards your 50,000 words. So, don’t look back, don’t think about what you’ve already written and don’t edit. (Imagine that sentence spoken by the 10th Doctor in the way he talks on the video in the episode ‘Blink’. It’s that serious.) Editing is for December.
- Don’t delete. You really hate that 500 word paragraph? Too bad. Strike it through and ignore it. You can delete it after November. On November 30th, you’ll want those words.
- Use the forums. The forums are gold dust. They are full of brilliant, amazing, insane WriMos who are all there for help and support as they too battle through their own novel. These are the people who will pick you up when you’re down, help you through the bad times and give you radical ideas for character names, subplots and death scenes.
- Word wars are your friend. What’s a word war? A word war is racing against one or more people in a set amount of time to see who can write the most number of words. Popular word wars last for 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes and an hour. Sometimes they’re called sprints and you’ll find threads for all of those times and more on the ‘Word Wars, Prompts and Sprints’ section of the forums. There is also an official NaNoWriMo Sprints Twitter account which runs sprints every day of the month. There’s an unofficial NaNoWriMo Facebook page which is also awesome for sprints.
- Character names are overrated. So, you’ve hit your stride, everything’s going well and suddenly a new character appears but you don’t know what to call them! You don’t want to lose pace by thinking of a suitable name. Don’t worry. NONAME is a perfectly acceptable character name. Especially in November.
- 1,667. You’ll dream of this number. This is the minimum number of words you need to write a day to stay on track. It’s on average 4 pages on Microsoft Word, single spaced, using Times New Roman size 12.
- Write. This is the obvious one. Right? Wrong. It’s very tempting to have a “day off” or to nap in the afternoon during the only free hour of the day you have. It’s scarily easy to slip off the rails and before you know it, four days have passed and you’re 6,668 words behind. Write whenever you have the chance. Read more on my blog here for hints on writing everywhere. 100 words before you go to sleep is better than no words at all.
- Back it up! Dropbox, Google Documents, email. Back up your novel, online, daily. There is nothing scarier that losing several thousand of your hard earned words to a computer crash or random flash drive formatting. The Internet is safe and you can access your file from anywhere.
- Have fun. NaNoWriMo is a frantic month and believe me you’ll get stressed, laundry will pile up and Starbucks will be your friend. But remember that it supposed to be a lot of fun as well. Don’t let the stresses get to you. I mean, where else can you walk onto a forum, have a perfectly serious conversation about how much jelly/jello it would take to fill in the Grand Canyon, watch two fictional characters that you’ve created do things you would never have imagined and welcome The Travelling Shovel of Death into your life?
In short, keep writing, don’t edit, and enjoy yourself. You’re not just sat in front of a computer with no one but yourself and a lonely piece of chocolate to motivate you, you’re suddenly immersed in a whole community with 100,000 people motivating you and running the race alongside you. (And you have a cool word count graph on your NaNoWriMo profile!)
Welcome to NaNoWriMo.
Do you remember the children’s story I had promised to write for my friend’s godson? (No? Read here.) I have actually been struggling with it for that long. Seriously. My friend was being super nice and said I could finish it for Christmas but I was worried I’d avoid it until December and be in the same situation I am now. So I was determined to finish it. As I was tearing my hair out, a friend on Twitter mentioned witches and all of a sudden, I had the missing part of my story! Don’t you just love it when that happens? That was last night and I finished the story today. Woo hoo!
Now I need you. I need new eyes to make sure I haven’t missed any errors or typos and to make sure the story reads okay. It’s for five year old boy (who is also the main character). In the actual story, it includes his full name, his brother’s full name and the name of their school. I took those out for the online version ’cause, well, they’re kids.
Be brutal! (But not too brutal, I’m printing and mailing this on Thursday so I only have tomorrow night to make alterations.)
This link should work and bring up a .pdf document:
Anything you notice, just put in the comments below. I’m going to take the link down after 24 hours or so (sometime tomorrow night) so I don’t continue to get feedback after I’ve printed and mailed it ’cause I’d feel awful if I knew there was an error and it was too late to do anything about it!
You guys are awesome! I love you already.
At 4am on Saturday morning I was woken up by my phone vibrating ’cause the battery was fully charged. I glanced at the screen to see I had a new email. I was awake enough to open it and was delighted to find an email to MLs giving various ML-y details.
It also said that there was new merchandise in the store.
I was actually excited enough to get up, turn on my netbook and go to the NaNoWriMo website to see what the new merchandise looked like. I’m already eyeing up the thermos and I really need a new NaNoWriMo hoodie to replace the one I have, as it’s getting faded from washing and has a hole in the sleeve.
NaNoWriMo is 14 years old this year and when I was up at 4am checking out the online store, it occurred to me just how much like a fandom is it. It even has a cult following.
I am a member of several fandoms – Doctor Who, Joss Whedon, Supernatural and Tim Burton to name a few. And I own merchandise from all those fandoms (with the exception of Supernatural which I only got into in August. Although I do own seasons one and two on DVD. Is that merchandise?) Fandoms make me squeal. There are certain times of year you look forward to if you’re a member of a fandom – the new series coming out, conventions, the new movie etc.
And like any fangirl cult follower, I love the time of year when the new merchandise is released. Even if I don’t buy anything, I love pretending that I could afford it and the excitement of having it.
‘Cause if you’re a fan of something, don’t you just love owning that item with the logo on it?
I currently own the following NaNoWriMo merchandise:
– 1 pen
– 1 notebook
– 1 hoodie
– 2 t-shirts
– 2 posters
I also donate to keep the focus of my fangirling running. The company running NaNoWriMo ‘The Office of Letters and Light’ is a non-profit, so donations keep it alive! I usually donate $10 a year, as it’s all I can afford. But not this year! This year I celebrate my 10th NaNoVersary with a $100 donation! Why? Because of this comment that I made on the Job Hunting thread in the 20’s Forum last year:
On December 19th 2011, I was given a job. It was a temp job until May. In April, I was asked to extend the job until September and move to a different department who needed a temp over the summer. And in August, I was offered a one year permanent contract in a third department. I accepted.
I’m just superstitious enough to keep my pledge. And so I will be donating when the new website launches. Why don’t I donate now? For the entirely selfish reason that I want my golden halo! What’s a golden halo? This is a golden halo. It’s what you get on your profile picture if you donate for that season:
(Yes, that’s Hatter. Another fandom.)
Every year I look forward to the end of September because of NaNoWriMo. Not just for the new merchandise. September is when the site is wiped and re-launched, when the new season is officially open for business and when everyone floods back to the forums, bringing a lot of new faces with them.
NaNoWriMo is almost the fandom I’ve obsessed over for the longest. It’s piped to the post by Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Here’s to many more years.