Once upon a midnight dreary…

Halloween means scary story and book recommendations!  Per the request of the patron saint of writers, Neil Gaiman, I offer these Internet-obtainable reads to you as my All Hallow’s Read gift.

The classics remain the classics for a reason.  You can grab yourself some Poe for a good time, there is always H.P. Lovecraft if you prefer an eldritch twist to your short stories.  One of my personal favorite is The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers.

One of the best sites to ever be birthed from the Internet, The SCP Foundation, can steal days from your life as you browse their collection of bizarre items.  If I might suggest a few starter articles:

What are some of your favorite scary books?  Do you have a ritual for reading scary stories, or can you read them on the bus and still get a chill up your spine?  I am a huge wuss when it comes to scary stories, so I don’t read many.  Stupid Slender Man pictures can give me nightmares so my selections might be a bit tame.  Tell me good scary stories to check out!

Happy Halloween!

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NaNoWriMo… BlogMoFoSho

It’s that time of year again!  Apples are in season (seriously, buy a bushel and bake something), the summer heat has finally broken, and the trees are starting to change colors.

It’s NaNoWriMo time, baby.

Coincidentally, November also happens to be the host to:

  • No Shave November
  • Look for Circles Day
  • Housewife Day
  • Have a Party with Your Bear Day
  • National Parfait Day

There are also some actual, sanctioned holidays tucked in the month but whatever.  For my purposes, in the realm of arbitrary celebrations, NaNoWriMo reigns above all the rest.  For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is an event wherein you aim to write 50,000 words within the month of November.  Each participant competes against them self in the end to make the end word count and earn the rank of Winner!  The prize is that you wrote 50,000 words in a month.  That’s it in a nutshell, really.

If this is the kind of thing that strikes your fancy, then it is up to you how far you’d like to get involved.  NaNoWriMo can be done in full isolation with just you, your word count, and your sense of gratitude when you reach then end.  You can sign up for free at the NaNoWriMo.org site for an account that will track your word count for others to see, and you can connect with other participants in your local area. There is swag to buy, you can receive weekly inspirational e-mails throughout the month and there are about a billion blog posts written about the topic of NaNoWriMo.

I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo several times without reaching 50,000 words.  The furthest I got was about 35k.  Most of the attempts petered out at about 10k, because Life Happens and I lose momentum.  This year?  I’m winning.  My strategy?

Brutal, uncompromising accountability.  And some actual planning.

First step:  make it publicly known that I’m doing NaNoWriMo.  I’m announcing it here on the blog and to my friends, with the encouragement for people to constantly ask me how I’m doing.  I even found a cool little widget that I put on the side of this blog so I will be forced to see my word count each time I update throughout the month of November.  At the very worst, I will be forced to feel intense shame 4 times next month.

Second step:  Get involved with the local NaNo scene.  I have joined up with the North AL NaNo people, and will be hosting two “write-ins” (events held for people to come and write in a friendly, less distracting environment) of my own.

Third step:  Direction.  Writers are encouraged to write anything for NaNoWriMo, so long as you are pushing a word count forward.  This year I have a specific intent:  to complete the first draft of a novel I have been faffing about with for too long.  I will be armed with an outline and a general idea of what I want to write.

Fourth step:  I have three different sealed boxes, each one filled with something that is relatively precious to me.  These boxes will be offered to different friends and will be held until the end of November, where one of two scenarios will occur:

  • I will complete 50,000 words and the boxes will be returned to me.
  • I will not complete 50,000 words and the boxes will be thrown away.

… That looks a little more psychotic when it’s actually written out then my original intentions.  I’m not packing up my cats or anything, but stuff I own that I either can’t easily replace, or would know that each time I looked at it that I had to buy it a second time.

I have been forced to admit that I do not hold to self-imposed deadlines.  I lack discipline when it comes to hitting word counts, sending out stories, all the things that I need to take seriously if I want to have writing as a viable career.  So now I’m throwing a new rule into the game to see if I can actually do this.  I would like to both win NaNoWriMo at least once in my life and prove to myself that if I can write 50k in November then it can surely be done in other months as well.

The First Daruma Doll

First things first:  I had a slight touch of what is typically referred to as “The Weeabo” throughout middle and high school.  I had friends that could write in kanji, I watched anime (on VHS, if you can imagine!  those box sets took up entire shelves) and was willing to spend $3 on Pocky at the local comic book store because I didn’t realize that the owner was price gouging.  Since then I’ve toned it down quite a bit, but I still really enjoy all the strange bits and bats of Japanese culture that pop into my general knowledge.

Like Daruma dolls.

Thanks, Wikipedia!

source: Wikipedia.org

When you first get a Daruma doll its eyes are white with no pupils.  You think of a wish or a goal you want to achieve and color in the right eye of the doll.  When you accomplish your goal, the Daruma gets his second eye and becomes whole.

I, being the far-flung traveler that I am, have one of these bad boys.  It’s authentic!  I may have bought it at EPCOT, but the sticker said “Made in Japan” and that’s got to count for something, right?  I made a wish to become published and filled in one of the eyes with a permanent marker, and set it on the desk.  Every time I looked at the poor little guy, sure enough, I was reminded of the wish I made.  Sometimes it spurred me to close down the Internet and get back to work, and sometimes it made me feel guilty that I was withholding depth perception from this little dude all because I couldn’t get a sentence right.

Then I sold a story.  I get an contributor’s copy, my Daruma gets his second eye, and we’re all good.  Except now, when I look at my completed Daruma doll, I don’t see him.  I see all the other, blind Daruma dolls that are waiting for a chance to earn their sight.
-I wish to be nominated for an award.

-My goal is to sell a story to a pro-rate market.

-I want to finish a novel.

-I will get an agent one day.

-It would be great to join SFWA.

To receive fan-made productions based on my works.

-I wish someone would record a reading of one of my stories for their publication.

-To have someone dress up as one of my characters.

I want to support myself fully as a writer.

To have someone ask me to sign a book at an inappropriate moment.

I wish that one day I’ll sell movie rights to a book I’ve written.

To win grand prize at the Writers of the Future contest.
I’m going to need a lot more of these little guys.

Words I Wrote, Now Available on Paper

The time has finally come where I am forced to allow my immediate family to read my fiction.  It’s official yo, I’m published!

Triangulation:  Morning After

Woooooo!

The book is available in both paperback and Kindle version, and I think that it will eventually be in the B&N online store.  Very exciting.

So I’m done being an author, right?  This is the pinnacle of my career.  Good, okay, that’s settled.

…what do you mean I have to do this again.