Author: Kate

November 17, 2017

Hi, yes, hello again. It’s been a while.

 

via GIPHY

 

I’ve been absent from the blog (though not anywhere else) for far too long. So now that it’s my favorite time of year, NaNoWriMo (it is a time, don’t question it), I figured it was also time to return to you, and with a much-needed update on how the month is going. Here is the quick and dirty version:

 

I am…

  • Writing a new genre this year, sci-fi. It is much harder than anticipated.
  • A Municipal Liaison for my region. It is fantastic and a little more time consuming than anticipated.
  • Daily vlogging my experience over on YouTube. It is alsdkvja;wljg;a than anticipated.

That being said, one of the responsibilities of Municipal Liaisons (or MLs for short) is writing pep talks for our Wrimos. And while I do address our region at the beginning, I hope the content will be helpful for you too!

 

Copied below, in full:

 

Day 4, “Writing Superheroes & Double Up Donation Day”:

Welcome to Week 1, InSANoWriMos!
This year, the theme is Superheroes. Which is very fitting, because as writers, we’re up against a lot of Dangerous Foes. We have a hard path set before us to create a world and characters that exist only within our imagination. We must overcome Crippling Doubt, the Distractions of the Internet, and the dreaded Interactions of Family and Friends, all to write a novel within one month. It’s a hard challenge, but I think you’re up to the task.
I hope the first three days have been smooth-sailing, but if they haven’t, just remember that your story is one worth telling. Lots of times we can lose the battle to Crippling Doubt. We can convince ourselves that someone else has already done it, and better, or that we’re not capable, that we’re not worthy. It’s during NaNoWriMo that we throw that doubt aside. We lean on our fellow writing superheroes to reassure us, to motivate us, and to congratulate us when we succeed. Every word written is one you didn’t have before and no one can ever write a story like you will.
Whether you’ve already hit 50,000, are just typing your first word, or somewhere in between, I want to say that the fact that you’re participating in NaNoWriMo alone is AWESOME. You’re helping to cultivate a community that celebrates the craft and love of writing, gives back to writers in need, and applauds the hard work of others.
In that spirit, I want to remind everyone that TODAY NaNoWriMo HQ is running a day-long writing and fundraising marathon. There will be virtual write-ins, Twitter shenanigans, and a special treat for anyone who donates $25 or more today.
NaNoWriMo is a nonprofit and this fundraising push helps ensure the programs can continue year-over-year. Your support helps cover the cost of sending materials to Young Writers Program classrooms around the world, bringing the power of creativity to thousands of children and youth. It also helps keep our programs and websites alive to continue making NaNoWriMo happen every November!
Hop online to take a look at the schedule of events and track our worldwide word-count goal during the day!
Happy writing!
– Your ML

 

Day 15, “Stuck In The Middle With You…”:

We’ve made it halfway, InSANoWriMos!
All of the pep talks recently have been talking about the Dreaded Second Third slump and this will be no different.
I won’t mince words. This is the hardest part of NaNoWriMo.
By now, the newness has worn off. We have fifteen days separating us and the kick-off, plenty of time for our excitement to dwindle. If it feels like your story is beating you, like you don’t know where to go, or that you do know but you don’t know how to get there, if NaNoWriMo is slowly eating your soul, I just want to be here to say: I hear you. I get it. This part sucks. Days 11 – 20 lack the fun and fanfare of the other twenty days, and include the beginnings of Thanksgiving stress. Not only that, but this is the part where our novels can be toughest too. We’re past the beginning, past the set-up and the introduction, but we’re not yet at the big ending. We’re somewhere else, slogging through chapters, hoping that we can do justice to the image in our head. It. Is. Hard.
But here’s the awesome part: You’ve written the words, you’ve put in the hours, and your story is forming. Something that once was only an idea in your mind is becoming a fully-fledged novel. You’ve gotten halfway. You’ve done it once, now you just need to do it one more time. You have all the support of your fellow InSANoWriMos, you have the forums and the Facebook, participants ready to encourage you in-person and online. You aren’t going through this alone. And you can do this.
As Neil said in his pep talk the other day, it’s just about putting “one word after another.” So whether you’re preferred method is slow and steady, fast and frenzied, or somewhere in between, we only have fifteen days left. We can do this!
– Your ML

I’ll make sure to update this space with the next pep talk I write in its own, separate post.

 

If you’re looking for daily NaNo updates (ranging from honest talks on creativity to milestone words to writing slumps to random things about my characters), check out my NaNoWriMo 2017 playlist here:

 

 

As always, I’m also active on Twitter for in-the-moment NaNo thoughts and on Instagram for pictures of weird bears in coffee shops. (Don’t ask. Or do.)

 

Questions for youuuuu:

What are you writing this year? And now that we’re a little beyond the halfway mark, are you still as excited (or more?!) about your idea as you were at the start?

July 16, 2017

 

What would Lord of the Rings be without Mordor or the Shire? Harry Potter without Hogwarts? Wall Street without NYC? The Originals without New Orleans? Friday Night Lights without Texas? Ocean’s Eleven without Vegas?

 

I’ll stop.

 

Point is, these settings are iconic. In some cases, even more so than the characters that traverse them.

 

There are hundreds of world-building questionnaires online, but the absolute best thing you can do to learn how to create unique and iconic settings is travel. (Me, recommending traveling? Shocking!)

 

And although travel unfortunately doesn’t allow you to actually live at Hogwarts (though you can try your best in Orlando!), it does let you experience some of the most extraordinary places the real world has to offer.

 

 

Dedicated research can tell you a lot about a city, but culture begs to be felt and experienced. Google Maps can show you the street view of a location, Yelp can show you the menus of the city’s best restaurant, and Instagram can show you the pictures the locals take. But that’s all they can do: show. TV, books, and the internet can’t help you taste the food, can’t let you smell the air, touch the water or the grass, or talk with the people. They don’t allow you to form your own opinions or make your own judgments through experience.

 

So, then, what shapes culture? Food, music, weather, religious and political views, racial and sexual diversity, history, architecture, language and dialect, customs, wealth disparity, fashion, urban vs. rural, work and industry, leisure and entertainment, sports, arts, lifestyle. On and on and on it can go.

 

 

But you don’t have to travel far and away. Just the next state over, the next city, the next town, down the road. If none of that works, look at where you live. Pretend it’s your first time ever seeing the architecture and the landscape. The first time you tried a local restaurant or coffee shop. The language spoken and their accents. Is it busy or quiet, quaint or hustling? Do the people smile, are they in a hurry, do they keep their heads down? What would you tell someone visiting for the first time, in order to truly experience where you live? What makes your home special? What do you see, smell, hear, taste, and feel? What’s something you’d have to live there to know, that a day-trip alone can’t explain?

 

It’s easy to become blind to the places we live, to take for granted its specialness, its beauty (and, sometimes, its ugliness). Travel allows us to escape this pitfall. To write unbiased and honestly and to create.

 

 

Mark Twain once said there were only four unique cities in the U.S.: Boston, New Orleans, San Antonio, and San Francisco. While I think travel anywhere positively influences writing, and while some may debate Twain’s four cities, there’s a reason some places are more iconic than others. (Re: Hogwarts. Also, please, send me my letter, JKR, I don’t mind that it’s fourteen years late.)

 

While part of world-building focuses on realism, creating a city just like your own doesn’t necessarily make it iconic.

 

Here, too, travel helps.

 

It helps you distinguish between ordinary and extraordinary. Between the things worth noticing and the items worth stopping for. To quote Mark Hertsgaard: “Travel is like knowledge. The more you see, the more you know you haven’t seen.”

 

And that allows imaginations to run wild.

 

So go forth and travel and explore, and create worlds all your own.

June 8, 2017

It’s that time of year! The month before Camp NaNoWriMo (Round 2!).

 

March, June, and October (and sometimes September because I’m always too excited) are for prep. And we’re here!

 

My usual prep consists of outlining. First identifying the three main acts, then Freytag’s Pyramid, and eventually a chapter-by-chapter outline. Ideally, I have this done before I start writing.

 

My best writer friends prep a different way – using character bio questionnaires.

 

I tend to enjoy character-driven stories the most, both in reading and writing. Characters usually jump into my head mostly formed, and I make stories based around those characters. Because of this, I actually need the most help when it comes to plot. (Thus, my detailed chapter outline.)

 

So while I’d seen various character bios floating around the internet for years, I never truly felt the push to use one until I started co-writing a story with one of those friends. The other friend is an avid D&D player, so character creation (and world building) is paramount.

 

Needless to say, they had a lot to teach me.

 

Here are a few character bios. For your reference and/or use.

 

The point of character bios are to help you learn more about your characters (duh) and, use that extra knowledge during your story. This is important because I think people who use character bios religiously tend to fall into 2 categories: those who actually end up writing their stories (aided by the bios) and those who never actually write their story (consistently telling themselves they just need more prep and the bio grows pages while the story document is never created).

 

Don’t fall into the second category. Don’t do that. Not to your precious story! Don’t be sucked in! It deserves to be told.

 

Okay, so now that you’ve promised yourself not to fall down the rabbit hole, if you’re anything like me, you’re asking yourself, “why the eff does it matter if the character’s mother was born in June or July?” I’ve found that while not all of the questions are useful, they compound to give you more insight. Typically at least 2 -3 questions, and their respective answers, prompt an event or catalyst felt directly in my story. To me, this is the greatest win. And why character bios can be worthwhile.

 

Filling one out also means you won’t end up writing an entire story without knowing the main character’s name and solely referring to them as FMC for Female Main Character. (I speak from experience…)

 

If it’s your first time filling out a character bio, and 40+ questions just seems like too much, here are the five I’ve repeatedly found helpful (from the links above, with a few notes in parenthesis):

  1. What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting? (This can be great for weaving throughout the story or as a subplot.)
  2. What about this character will readers like? What will they dislike? (Good to have one of each, at least.)
  3. If your character was suddenly challenged, would they rather run away or stay and fight? (Does this change based on the challenge presented? How?)
  4. What kind of person does your character wish he or she could be? What is stopping him or her?
  5. Does your character think the future is hopeful? Why? (Works for all settings, but especially fantasy.)

All in all, the answer to if questionnaires are worth it is personal. To both the writer and the individual story. Basically, you do you. Just don’t get sucked in and only work on the bio, and don’t do so little character work that you never learn their names.

 

Do you use character bios? What’s your favorite questions to answer? Let me know!

February 15, 2017

 

7:00

Ideal Day: Wake up like the glorious writer/princess I am. Have doves dress me. Their feathers inspire an entire series, probably a future Bestseller.

Reality: Snooze.

 

7:00 – 7:30

Have a breakfast full of protein, and carbs that are actually good for me, to power an entire day of writing.

Snooze. Snooze. Snooze.

 

7:30 – 9:00

With hot coffee in hand, I begin refreshing my memory of yesterday’s writings. Think, “wow, I’m a genius, but there are some very small changes that will be super easy to implement to make me even more of a genius.” Write for 1.5 hours without getting distracted by Twitter or Instagram, because I have a laser-like focus.

Snooze until 8:00. Wait, I was supposed to be awake an hour ago? Why did I think I could do that when I stayed up all night watching YouTube videos? Decide to cook eggs while rereading yesterday’s writings. Repeat firstdraftsaresupposedtosuck firstdraftsaresupposedtosuck until I believe it. Accidentally spill coffee on keyboard.

 

9:00 – 9:30

Take a small break, but only to reference an award-winning non-fiction book pertinent to my current WIP. Find exactly what I need with little effort, as if magic.

Frantically search Google for the answer to my random “what if?” question that will never come up in my story. Find semi-appropriate article on Wikipedia.

 

9:30 – 11:00

Back to writing. 1000 words of beautiful prose appear on my manuscript. I have somehow found the answer to the age old question “how do I make a believable YA love story when the novel spans only a week and they just met?”

Wikipedia has taken over my life, I have somehow ended up on a page about Mouse Rat, a band from the show Parks and Rec. Think, “wow, I should really rewatch that, I wonder if I have time to start today (but only from Season 2, because Season 1 is the worst).” Look at clock. Realize I have wasted an hour of precious writing time in a Wikipedia spiral. Gaze longingly at TV, promising myself an episode if I write for the next half hour.

(more…)

February 8, 2017

 

Quick Summary

You know what’s better than watching a romantic comedy on TV? Reading THE BOY IS BACK by Meg Cabot. Told entirely through texts, emails, newspaper clippings, and “blessings” journal entries, this book brings back the unapologetic fun of Cabot’s previous Boy books.

Check out the back cover description below:

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Meg Cabot is my Queen. She’s back, as great as ever, and I’m pumped to read the other follow-ups to her extremely popular Mediator and Princess Diaries series.

(Also, can we talk about what a pioneer Meg is? She has books across middle-grade, Young Adult, and Adult. She’s written fantasy, paranormal, sci-fi, contemporary, and straight romance. Bow down, people, bow down.)

 

OVERALL RATING: 3.9/5.0

“Characters or Caricatures?”

Somewhere in the middle. This is what I love about Meg Cabot and her Boy series. It’s completely silly and ridiculous and I can’t imagine meeting these people in real life…except that, somehow, I also can. Just like the most entertaining TV, all of the characters are heightened versions of what actual people are like. Reed, our main man, is such a hunk. He joins the ranks of our other wonderful imaginary boyfriends, with Cabot’s special mix of goofy, masculine, and absolutely endearing.

And the lead, Becky, is a strong, independent woman who don’t need no man, except, you know, that she wants one and that one is Reed.

The secondary characters nearly surpass our main characters as my favorites, with laugh out loud ridiculous antics. Special shout-out to Dolly Vargas (and Tim!), who reappears in this novel, and is the only connector I could find to previous Boy books. But I <3 Dolly so the cameo was much appreciated.

 

“The Plot Thickens”

As with most chick-lit, the majority of the plot revolves around why the two love interests can’t be together, and THE BOY IS BACK is no different. Only the things keeping Reed and Becky apart include a rocky shared history, a cheese-obsessed boyfriend, and a contract/professional ethics prohibiting it (depending which character you ask).

Past the relationship drama, this book deals with a plethora of issues facing women (and men!) today, including: aging parents, strained sibling relationships, and deciding when to follow your heart over your head.

The way Meg weaves and twists the story to its ultimate conclusion, pulling together the mystery of what-in-the-hell-is-happening with Reed’s parents, is a doozy, but so satisfying.

 

“Love Me Tender, Love Me Sweet,…”

Is it weird to say this relationship read like a hug feels? I thought so. But it’s true! It’s cozy, tender, familiar, and sweet. I personally found this relationship to be the least sexy across all the Boy books, but others may feel differently.

This relationship focuses less on the tension between the two characters and more on the friendship they shared previously and rebuilding that connection. There’s a cute playfulness between the two that was refreshing to read, so I appreciated that.

 

“Weird Wild World”

The book is set squarely in The Real World so you won’t find anything too crazy or abnormal. Expect small-town antics, but who doesn’t love those?

 

“The Danger Zone”

The entire format of the story – again, told almost exclusively through text or email chains – can be divisive. If you like it, you like it. If you don’t, well, you’ve been amply warned. If you’ve never tried a book in this format before, think of something witty and dialogue-heavy steering the story, as much of the important plot points are revealed to the reader through the characters discussing them.

A personal pet peeve: I’m a proud Disneyphile and the fact that no one researched if there actually was a Brazil pavilion in Epcot (there’s not) killed me a little inside. For shame!

 

“Reread/Shelve/Box/Lend”

Reread. I’ve reread the three other books in the Boy series many times over. Bad day? Grab one of these books. Instant mood changer! I was still grinning like an idiot a few hours after reading this book, just relishing what a light-hearted story it was. Definitely keep it around for a quick pick-me-up!

 

“Quick Quotes”

  • “I never forgot you, Flowers. It took me ten years to feel worthy of you.”
  • “He is killing me. Every time he says my name, or looks my way, every time he laughs, even if he’s only telling one of his stupid jokes about his parents idiotic World’s Greatest Grandparents mugs, he is taking my heart, pulling it from my chest, crumpling it into a little ball, and stuffing it into his pocket, as casually as if it were a napkin he’d used to wipe his mouth. And it’s killing me! He doesn’t even know it. But it’s true. And there’s not a blessed thing I can do about it.”

 

“IYLTRT (If You Like This, Read This)”

  • The other books in the Boy series: The Boy Next Door, Boy Meets Girl, and Every Boy’s Got One.
  • Any book by Sophie Kinsella.

 

Happy readings!

January 9, 2017

 

It’s on to Draft #2.5 for me! Time for revisions, revisions, and more revisions. I’m certain I’m not the first, and I definitely won’t be the last, to tell you how important revising and editing your drafts are.

 

For the longest time though, moving past the first draft was the hardest part for me. I could write first draft after first draft (NaNoWriMo had trained me well), but would never revisit the story after I’d typed “The End.” And if the goal is to be published one day, you cannot stop after “The End.” There is so much more work to do!

 

Part of that work, once you feel comfortable, is to ask for feedback. And that’s what I want to share with y’all today. Below is the note I sent my first reader, detailed what they can expect, where I’d like them to focus, and any expectations I have regarding a review. (Don’t forget to profusely thank your friends for willingly reading a draft not in its best version! And if they’re also writers, volunteer to do the same for them when they’re ready!)

 


 

Note to Start

This is a first draft, which means you will find:

    • Typos
    • Rhythm/flow issues
    • Tense changes
    • Other grammar problems

I don’t want you focusing on these things, though! (At least, not right now…!)

If you’re like me, and it’s just TOO MUCH to not correct something, just mark through it! I’ll read over all of your notes and can figure it out.

The reason I encourage not focusing attention on grammatical errors is because this is the easiest change to make! I need your help on the BIG things. Which leads me to…

 

Where to Focus

  • Plotting
    • Do you like the plot? Do some scenes need more explaining? Do some scenes not make any sense? Do you just plain not like a scene (as a reader)? Do the subplots fit in the main plot, and add to it?
  • Pacing
    • Not to be confused with rhythm/flow of each individual sentence
    • This is a bigger view. Does the pacing make sense within the chapter? Across a series of chapters? Not enough ramp-up to big events? Too much ramp-up and then the actual event happens too quickly? That kind of thing!
  • Character Development
    • This goes for main characters to supporting/minor characters
      • Believability?
        • Could there actually be someone like this? If not, is it at least amusing/add to the story?
      • Likability?
        • This is especially important for main characters! They need to be rooted for or, at least, something felt for them. Most important (to me) is that they’re not annoying.
      • Consistency?
        • Does this decision make sense for this character?
      • Growth?
        • Do the characters seem like they’ve grown over the course of the story?
      • Dimensionality?
        • This is a first draft, so I know there will be plenty of issues with this, especially in more minor characters!
  • Story Arcs
    • Main plots and subplots
      • Are there enough subplots? Do the subplots make sense within the story? Could you have guessed how the story was going from the beginning?
  • Major Inconsistencies
    • Were major or minor plot points abandoned? Did one character say something only to contradict it, without explanation, later? Does something just NOT MAKE SENSE?
  • Additions/Deletions
    • Do you see a place for the story to expand? Were you curious about something that wasn’t in the first draft, but you think should be? Were there scenes that could have been longer? Conversely, were there scenes that didn’t move the plot forward or seemed unimportant?
  • YOUR OPINION/OTHER IMPORTANT THINGS
    • Does the writing style come through? (Since I’m writing from first person, can you tell that the Main Character has a clear VOICE)?
    • What do you think of the work as a whole, after finishing? Were all of your questions answered? Was everything tied together well enough? Since I imagine this as a sequel, would you be okay with the ending enough even though you have to wait a year for the next one (or does it seem like it could “stand alone” for a period of time)?
    • Is this story marketable? Who do you think will read this/who would you recommend this to?

Comment Frequency

Feel free to take notes whenever or wherever you want, but my expectations are just a few notes at the end of each chapter and then maybe a written page-length at the end of the story to summarize your feelings and answer the questions above. They can be real quick jots and I’ll follow-up, if needed.

 

Finally,…

You da best!! Thank you so, so much for agreeing to read my “zero/first” draft! I value your opinion and really appreciate you taking the time to look over this. I hope it’s the first of many! <3

 


 

Okay, there you have it! This gives your reader plenty to focus on, and a much better idea of what kind of feedback you’re hoping to receive than “just read it and tell me what you think, mmkay?” Good luck to everyone working on their first/second/third/millionth draft! We’ve got this!

 

What has been the hardest part for you? Hitting “The End”? Revising? Draft #10? Querying? Let me know!

December 28, 2016

 

Once Upon A Time, when I was a young Kate Cavanaugh (~20, to be more precise), I had just graduated college and started my first full-time, corporate job. At this ripe age, I decided it was time to look forward, to when I would be much wiser, much more experienced, and much closer to “having it all figured out.”

 

This meant a combination of what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be, where I wanted to live, etc., etc.

 

Life, basically.

 

So I decided to create a list. A list of 25 things that I would have accomplished by the time I turned 25. “25×25” is what I wrote down at the top of the first page of my new notebook, some four years ago.

point-blur_dec282016_202516

 

A few things to note:

1) My perspective on goals has changed entirely since creating this list. I’m a much bigger fan of building habits, and think they need to be considered right alongside your goals when brainstorming. More on that in early 2017…

2) Now that I am almost 25, the idea that anyone could “have it all figured out” sounds simultaneously asinine and hilarious. I’m no closer to understanding life than I was before, but I think I’m much better now at enjoying it and loving myself. That seems like a Win in my book.

3) I still love lists.

 

All that being said, in honor of the New Year, I figured it was time to revisit my 25×25 list. For your amusement and mine, here are the serious/weird things I thought would be good to have accomplished by the time I turned 25, with notes from Present Me:

 

25×25

(Can we start with how smart I was for creating groupings ahead of time? Man, I love lists. Strikethroughs indicate completion. Red means I ABSOLUTELY, in no universe, this one or a slightly similar alternate, see this being completed before I turn 25.)

 

“SKILLS”: (Quotes added now.)

 

1) Be fluent in Spanish.

I try, succeed for a few months, and then ultimately fail at learning Spanish. Repeat ad nauseum. Fingers crossed this is still achievable, though I may fudge on that “fluency” bit. Shout out to Duolingo for trying its best to remind me every day, even if I ignore the notification.

 

2) Learn metallurgy/welding/jewelry making.

Why? Because I think I could make something pretty. 🙂 I more/less have the jewelry bit down, though I’d like to get a bit better before I cross anything off. I don’t entirely trust myself around an open flame so why I thought welding would be a good idea is beyond me.

 

3) Try meditating/yoga seriously.

Apparently yoga is not for me. I fall asleep. But still! I tried! Meditation, on the other hand, is great, and though I don’t practice regularly, I do when I feel the need. Check out Headspace for help getting started.

 

4) Have submitted for publication/be published.

I love how I thought it would be so easy. Overcoming the self-doubt is a challenge itself, but I think I’m closer closer than ever to submitting a query. That’s another post for another day.

 

5) Paint something to use as my own wall art.

Is it cheating if I went to Painting With a Twist to accomplish this? Oh well, I do have it on my wall!

 

6) Run the Disney Princess Half Marathon.

1424617358928

I believe the “skill” here is the actual half-marathon, which I did twice! But this was one of the most fun races I’ve ever been part of and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. RunDisney FTW! (I’m Disneybounding as Ariel, above. You’re forgiven for not recognizing it, because at that point I was mostly just sweaty.)

 

7) Learn how to cook one full-course meal.

I crossed this out about two years ago, with no notes, so I’m not sure what full-course meal I believed I could make. If stretched, I feel confident enough to Google a few recipes and I’m great at desserts.

 

8) Thoroughly research my heritage.

And I have a million genealogy trees to prove it. Next step is to visit all the different places my family is from. 😉

 

9) Learn Krav Maga/some other form of self-defense.

I have always been a weakling at best, much more apt to outrun a foe, and at almost-25 that still hasn’t changed. There’s some time left, though!

 

10) Know how to change a tire.

This feels like it should be basic car knowledge but guess who never learned? Guess who’s had this as a goal for years, and still hasn’t learned? This girl!

 

11) Grow my own strawberry garden.

fireflykaylee1

Strawberries are, unequivocally, the best fruit (and Kaylee from Firefly agrees with me). And they can be grown in relatively small containers! Perfect for apartment living. I’ve done all the research, the next step is to plant. (In case you’re curious, you should freeze the seeds for a week or so first. Helps them grow!)

 

TRAVEL:

 

12) Go back to Europe.

I’m angling to go to Scotland at the start of the summer. Now it’s just a matter of those dolla dolla bills.

 

13) Go to Australia.

I went to Australia AND New Zealand (with a fascinating layover in Fiji) this May! And it was just as amazing as I always hoped it to be. Actually, it was better. I have high hopes to return someday, and soon.

 

14) Sit down at a poker table and play in Vegas.

I did not win.

 

15) Go to ComicCon AND have created my own costume.

What a distinction! Maybe this should have been lumped under skills? I mean, “skills”?

 

16) Go to the Renaissance Festival in Texas.

Truly I’ve never seen anything like it. So many talented people, and so many drunks. (Can you guess which I was?)

 

17) Visit Harry Potter World.

Butterbeer, butterbeer, butterbeer. This is the only part of Universal I visited. One day I’ll go back and, you guessed it, have more butterbeer. (I’ve made my own and it’s just not quite the same without the backdrop of Hogsmeade. But it’s still delicious.)

 

ACTIVITIES:

 

18) Swim with dolphins.

BECAUSE HOW FUN WOULD THAT BE? Dolphins were my favorite animal for years (alongside cheetahs). No specifications on if I could just be in the ocean and SEE the dolphins, but I haven’t had that happen yet either.

 

19) Buy a house/condo.

Houses are expensive. Condos only just less so. Either way, my slightly-younger-than-25 still sees a lot of plusses to rent life, and that’s what it will be for the next few years.

 

20) Try speed-dating.

Why? Why did I decide this was a good idea? I must have just watched a movie and thought it looked fun. Regardless, it’d be an experience! (Or “activity.”)

 

21) Get my tattoo.

I’ve had the same idea for a tattoo since I was in eighth grade. I’d personally love to partner with an artist to come up with the exact design, and it just hasn’t happened yet. Maybe I’ll make it my birthday present to me!

 

22) Ride a mechanical bull.

I live in Texas, so this should be more easy than hard, I just need to walk into any country bar.

 

23) See a psychic/fortune teller.

Do I believe in psychics? No. Do I want to write a story with a psychic as a side character? Yes. Do I think this would provide not only great research opportunities, but also all of the entertainment? Absolutely. The problem is that I want to do this right, and not just go to the second floor of a Magic Time Machine, so I need to do more research.

 

24) Go to a shooting range.

I want to feel the pow-ah, in a very controlled environment, and then probably never again.

 

25) Go paint-balling.

THIS WOULD BE SO MUCH FUN. Like a better version of a shooting range, because it has fun colors and I can beat my friends. 😉

 

If you’re counting and/or calculating, I have completed a whopping 36% of my 25×25 list by crossing through 9 skill and travel goals. If I want to seriously complete this list – to the best of my abilities – it shouldn’t be too hard to dig deep into that “activity” section. The only thing it may cost is a little bit of money and a whopping amount of pride (looking at you, mechanical bull!).

 

Regardless, this list has been fun, I just no longer expect it to be anything more than that.

 

Do you have any goals to reach before you hit a certain age? Or, have you ever reached the age you promised your younger self you would have accomplished something? Let me know!

December 26, 2016

 

Inspired by a book on my December TBR, I decided to write a list of all the reasons I have ever not finished a book. (If you watch my videos on YouTube, you’ll find out which book soon enough. Confession: I only made it to Chapter 5.)

 

As a writer, it’s important to look for these issues in my own stories, but even more important is to remember that one person’s DNF (Did Not Finish) is another’s favorite book ever. Take these 16 Reasons Why I Have DNF’d A Book with a grain of salt, but hopefully a much larger grain of amusement:

 

1) The language is stunted or too flowery and I can’t jive with it. (Also, this isn’t a vocab test. I don’t need a GRE word every sentence.)

 

2) I don’t root for the Main Character.

 

3) I actively dislike the Main Character.

 

4) I want the Antagonist to kill the Main Character and plant their head on a spike, parading them around town, ending the story and thus my misery.

 

5) Actually the Antagonist kind of sucks too. Weak, empty threats, and I don’t believe their reasoning? Pass. Hard pass.

 

6) The characters have really weird names for no earthly reason and I haven’t figured out how to pronounce them and each page is a struggle for me not to rename them to Bob or Job or Clob or Whatever-Their-First-Initial-Is-Ob.

 

7) Why is this one guy the best that ever was? Has he trained? No? He was just born this way? He’s never practiced his power a day in his life but is somehow the absolutely best warrior in all the land? Stop.

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December 8, 2016

 

NaNoWriMo 2016 officially ended 7 days, 12 hours, and 53 minutes ago (as of this writing).

 

So now seems like the perfect time for a recap post!

 

If you’ll remember, I decided to challenge myself to something I was affectionately calling #2books1month. And if you don’t remember, it was my silly little goal to write 100K words over two different story ideas for the month of November.

 

I failed.

 

Not NaNoWriMo. You can’t fail NaNoWriMo unless you don’t try.

 

No, I failed #2books1month.

nanowrimo2016-winner

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