Lifting Our Voices to the Moon

Last Friday night was lovely. I attended Glowing with the Moon, an open mic hosted by my amazing, wonderful poet friend, Lorenz Dumuk. Lorenz is an amazing poet and one of the kindest, most generous-hearted people I know.

The night included a mix of featured poets and open mic participants with a variety of styles, including Yvette McDonald, Lindsey Leong, Scorpiana Xlynn, and others. The out pouring of words as the sky darkened into night was wonderful.

Q&A also performed a couple of sets. The musical duo is comprised of Quynh Nguyen and Alice D. Chen. They play a mixture of covers and original music in a style that is sweet and slightly eerie. They don’t have a website or facebook page that I can link to yet, but they have definitely made a groupie of me.

Lorenz presented several lovely counterparts to the mixture of spoken word and music:

  • He asked everyone to participate in a salt-art table, to draw out our dreams or what we’re looking to let go off in salt, then to sweep it into a bag, which he will later take and return to the ocean.
  • At another point, he asked everyone to stand up and greet a stranger, saying our name, what we hoped to call to ourselves, and what fears we wanted to let go of — the result was an opening up to someone new, perhaps letting in a little vulnerability along the way.
  • Since it was that kind of night, Lorenz also asked us to close our eyes and listen to the wind singing in hushed tones in the trees around us.

I don’t know that I can properly explain how grounding and wonderful a night Friday was and what a great community these artists and poets are. I find myself sometimes longing for community of this kind, a creatively charged group casting their words into the world (I do have my Writing Gang, though life has intervened making it hard for us to gather). Such kinds of communities makes me feel alive to words.

As I usually do after such an event, I went home and threw some words down on a poem I’ve been working on for a while. There’s going to be another open mic at Iguanas in San Jose on Thursday. My goal is to finish this poem in time to read it at the Thursday open mic, which is intimidating since this poem makes me feel vulnerable writing it, let alone reading it out loud to others.

I hope everyone is having a lovely week, full of creativity and joy.

Taking Action, Redrafting, and Getting Back to Work

As I mentioned in my review of Save the Cat!, the value of any how-to book is whether it inspires you to take action. For the past several months, I have been stalled out and completely avoiding working on my werewolf novel, The Cold Nothing Taste of Winter. After drafting about two-thirds of the book, plot problems proliferated and I didn’t know how to move forward toward the ending. Since a lot of my fellow writers have been recommending Save the Cat! recently, it seemed like a good idea to give it a read and see if it sparked the flame of progress once again.

It did just that.

Here are a few of the tools from the book I’m using to try to build forward momentum.

Continue reading “Taking Action, Redrafting, and Getting Back to Work”

You Are Awesome

Spent a sunny Saturday at Boogie on the Bayou in Campbell with my Bestie, drinking several beers, eating giant sausages, shopping at the many booths, and getting sunburned. While out and about, we came across a rather awesome young woman, holding a “You are Awesome” sign. So, I had to take a picture.

And, Darling Readers, in case you didn’t know, you are awesome, too. (^_^)

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What I’m writing: I posted another Friday Flash, called “Beyond Borderlands.”

What I’m reading: Amal El-Mohtar posted a great essay on Reading Dialect in Celeste Rita Baker’s “Name Calling,” which lead to some interesting discussion. The reading and discussions lead me to actually reading Rita Baker’s rather fantastic story itself – posted first in the edited version (toning down the dialect) and second in the original version (with dialect as it was submitted).

Other Thingies: I actually got off my bum, braved the heat, and went for a run this weekend, which felt fantastic.

It’s going to be busy week as I prep for my trip. Not sure how much I’ll be able to accomplish beyond Get Ready for Trip, but here’s hoping.

How are things going with you?

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” ― Anaïs Nin

While the weekend was spent celebrating Mammas, both my own mom and my sister who is fantastic with the Little Monster, I somehow managed to be somewhat productive this week.

On Tuesday, fellow poet Lorenz Dumuk (@LorenzDumuk) and I visited a friend’s classroom to read our poetry as part of her English class. As I haven’t read in ages, I was feeling rather nervous and kind of rushed through my pieces, but as usual Lorenz was amazing. He is a powerhouse of spoken word and it’s always inspiring to watch him offer up words to an audience.

Afterward, I went home and started reading Jessie Carty’s new book of poetry, Practicing Disaster,* in order to hold on to the galvanizing feeling created with poetry.

As a result of all this hearing and reading of fantastic poetry, I poured out five poem drafts all in one go, one of which I posted up on wattpad, called “Kamikaze.”

The juiced writerly feeling didn’t fade away, and I ended up putting together a Friday Flash. The short short story, called “Four and Twenty” is a bit about baking pies and a bit about a murder of crows. I plan to make a habit of posting a Friday Flash at least once a month.

My goal for the week is to edit the poem drafts and put together a small submission to a journal. I also have one submission still out that I haven’t heard back from, which I need to send an inquiry on.

*Jessie Carty sent me a review copy of her book. I should have the review up middle of the week, which I plan to follow with an interview with the poet (something I have never done before, eek!).

Lethargy breeds lethargy.

“Lethargy. It’s a word I know, because it’s in one of my father’s favorite expressions. Lethargy breeds lethargy. It means the more you lie around doing nothing, the more you want to lie around doing nothing. Your limbs and your mind feel so heavy that it becomes a major effort just to lift your arm to channel surf.”
― Neal Shusterman, Dread Locks

As I idled away the weekend, avoiding any opportunity or incentive to do anything, it started to become clear to me that I was in a lethargy cycle that I’m having a hard time escaping. I don’t even want to write out goals, because I know I won’t do them, but I also know that by not setting goals, I have no reason to accomplish anything. Gah.

I am reading quite a lot, which I consider a form of forward progress. But if it weren’t for the adorableness of the Little Monster, who’s parents invited me out to lunch, I might not have changed out of my pajamas or left the house all weekend. (While that’s not a bad thing in and of itself, I usually find I need to get out at least a little to feel healthy and balanced.)

So, in the absence of having any new about my personal goals to share with you, here are a couple of cool things on the interwebs:

  • The flash fiction, journal NaNo Fiction is celebrating National Short Story Month by posting flash stories with an accompanying prompt to get writers writing. I keep telling myself that I need to play with flash fiction more, since it’s close to poetry in terms of tightness of narrative.

An Adorable Monster and other good things

I did not exercise all last week, unless you count my playing with my niece, a.k.a. The Monster — following her as she ran around the park and rolling with her in the grass and spinning in circles and then hauling her over my shoulder to get her back to her parents at the picnic tables — which I totally do.

The Monster had a lovely Easter. She got to paint eggs and then “find” eggs during an Easter egg hunt (which was more us just tossing plastic eggs into the grass and playing pick up with a plastic bucket, because she’s not yet two).

Words Here and There

I haven’t been putting many expectations on myself in terms of writing lately, due to the many, many things going on in other arenas of my life. But I’ve managed to feel a few sparks of inspiration over the past couple of weeks, which is awesome.

Despite my previous protestations that no poetry would be written this month, I’ve added a number of poems to The Poetry Project over on Wattpad. You can read each of the poems at the following links:

I’m planning to close The Poetry Project to new prompts as of April 30th, so if you would like me to write you a poem, then please leave me a prompt in the comments either here or there.

I’ve put together an excel sheet of chapters of the werewolf novel, noting things that need to be added and major problems that need to be solved along the way. It’s not a complicated layout, but it was enough to start getting my thoughts in order and I’m also using the tabs to start trying to keep track of characters and places that are important. I still have NO IDEA to solve the one major problem I have at the moment. The most obvious solution is to cut out the problem entirely, but I’m not sure that’s what I want to do.

I also met with the Writing Gang over the weekend, all of whom continue to be awesome. They gave me some feedback on some of the later chapters, which was valuable as always. I think I need to look at solving the big problems and work my way through edits from the beginning at this point. *le sigh*

Good Movie Watching

The Host (2006)I saw The Host (Gwoemul) for the first time over the weekend and it was SO FREAKING AWESOME. The story involves a large genetically mutated creature that rises up out of Han River in Seoul, South Korea and begins to attach the population. A young school girl is taken by the creature during the initial attack, and amidst a virus scare and government lockdown, her family escapes quarantine to try to rescue her.

It sounds like just your typical monster movie, but the story is intelligent and the family is both charming and silly in their bungling attempts to save their daughter/niece. It offers fantastic action sequences with a spice of humor, alongside an interesting social commentary. The monster turns out to be the least terrifying aspect of the story. Instead it’s the failed efforts of the Korean and U.S. government to solve the contamination problem, as well as the cold calculating treatment toward the patients in quarantine by officials and doctors alike that becomes truly frightening.

This is one of those movies that was so cool, I want to now see everything done by the director, Joon-ho Bong. The director’s most recent movie is Snowpiercer, which I’ve heard is amazing. So, I that may be the next movie I seek out by him. If you want more evidence of Joon-ho Bong’s awesome, you can check out this post.

Things to Do This Week

  • Edit chapter one of werewolf novel and try to solve big plot problem
  • Find a publisher to submit chapbook manuscript to
  • Continue research/do homework on business thing that I can’t talk about yet

Things

This weekend was mostly lazy with lots of movie watching. It was mostly bad or so-so movies (with the exception of The Spectacular Now).

I’ve started reading The Three Musketeers and I’m rather enjoying the antics of Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and d’Artagnon. There’s a lot of hot headed-ness, running off to get into sword fights, slinging of insults, intrigues with mysterious women, and so on. All quite fun.

The most exciting thing this weekend was the family visit to the 4D Ultrasound* clinic. I don’t know if I announced this to you all, but my sister’s due to have her second baby (a boy) in a couple of months (end of June), so I’ll get to have a second little person to read to. (^_^) Anyway, the technology these days is amazing. We could see the features of baby Colton so clearly and he’s adorable. Looks just like his big sister. It’s so exciting!

*I don’t know why they call it 4D, when it doesn’t actually transcend time. It’s more like an advanced 3D technology.

Writing Life

Since April is National Poetry Month, this is normally the time I would be wildly attempting to complete the 30 Day Poetry Challenge or reading poetry on youtube or in some other way trying to engage. That hasn’t happened this time around, because there’s still traces of a bunch of things going on. While I’m not going to try to pound out two dozen or more poems this month, I do want to get back into my Morning Poetry Ritual (in which I must write a poem each morning). I need some sort of spark to keep the words burning in me.

For those interested in Poetry Month goodies, here’s a couple:

Running Life

Haven’t run much since completing the 5k two weeks ago, and I need to get back to it. I’d like to move up to the next level and run a 10K this summer.

I’ll try to get a couple of workouts or runs in this week, although it might not happen on the weekend because of family events filling Saturday and Easter Sunday. I’ll have to take it easy, though, since I’ve somehow managed to straing my lower back over the weekend.

How are you all this week? Are you loving life?

_______

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. ― Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

Reality has been kicking my ass lately, but I’m managing to get a few swings in finally. Bits and pieces of life are starting to fall into place, resembling at least an amalgamation of order.

The sun dappled through the trees as I took my run this weekend, a little more warmly than I would normally like, but it was lovely out nonetheless. Since falling off my running habit a few weeks ago, I’m not quite back to where I was in terms of distance. I only have the rest of this week to train, because the She Is Beautiful 5k is on Sunday. I’m sure sure the adrenaline and energy from my fellow runners will help me get through race day with a smile.

Writing progress has been minimal at best. I opened up my laptop this weekend with the intent to write new chapters for The Cold Nothing Taste of Winter (formerly Under the Midday Moon), but couldn’t jump into the groove of words and sentences and paragraphs and all that lot.

So, instead I gathered all my printouts and started putting together a spreadsheet of chapters written and chapters yet to write and problems that still need to be addressed — which I consider to be good progress. I have more work to do on the spreadsheet and it’s helping me to wrap my head around what I need to get done and how I might approach things, which is a relief.

To Do This Week

  • Finish the novel spreadsheet
  • Edit “The Shadow’s Flight” short story to meet flash fic markets and send it out
  • Write and/or edit one of the poems on deck
  • Run the She Is Beautiful 5k!

Good Reads

1. The Bare Knuckle Writer presents an awesome blog post on “Character EDC.”

EDC = Every Day Carry, or the things you always take with you no matter what.

“The things a person always has on them tells you what kind of person they are. A sentimentalist? A minimalist? A survivalist? All those people will have different things.”

This immediately had me thinking about the characters in my novel and what they always carry with them. Claire, for example, always carries the keys to her dad’s cage around her neck, even though she only needs them at home. So far, I’ve only referenced the keys a few times in the story, the times when she’s needed them. But since she always wears them, even when she doesn’t need them, I can see her wearing them as a kind of charm, a comforting talisman when things are going wrong.

Now I’m going to have to think about other characters and what they carry around and what it means to them, even if they’re not conscious of it.

2. The Winter 2014 issue of Goblin Fruit is out!

Go forth, friends, and read beautiful things. (^_^)

You have to keep pushing toward those dreams no matter what setbacks happen. – Anthony Hamilton

Struggle is the word of the…, well, I guess it’s the word of the month at this point. Nothing has been going easy for at least the last couple of weeks and all I’ve wanted to do is crawl into a hole and hibernate, safe and alone in the dark, until everything troublesome goes away. (This is partly why my weekly update is on Wednesday instead of Monday.)

In Writing

I received my first rejection of the year from Daily Science Fiction.

Most of last week was spent feeling completely unfocused. I would pick up my laptop or a notebook, poised to write, then put it down again feeling frustrated.

As always, meeting with my Writing Gang, left me feeling inspired, so on Sunday night, though, I managed to hand write some thoughts on a scene for my Fay Fairburn story, which felt good. Though I still have yet to make much (or any) progress on my main writing project this year, Under the Midday Moon.

This week, I’ve been trying to break the “blocked” pattern by hand writing an idea for a chapter (for a different book) out in one of my journals. I have some preliminary thoughts down and it’s very disjointed, but it feels like it will come together into the right thing. So, I’m slowly starting to feel better about that.

In Running

I had two great workouts with my trainer last week, though the Wednesday workout was so hard, it was almost too much. I was almost to the point where I thought I might throw up. I know some people are into that level of training, but that’s not where I want to be and I don’t think it’s actually healthy.

Saturday I attempted a run and managed a mile, but got mentally blocked (amazing how much of running is mental). I know I could have run those three miles — I’d don it before, after all — but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I very quickly started getting frustrated, and the more frustrated I became, the harder it was for me to run.

Because of this, I added a run on Tuesday. Again, I walked at the one mile mark, but almost made it through the second mile once I started up again. It wasn’t an ideal run, but it was an improvement, so I was feeling okay at that point.

I’m just going to have to build up my running again until I’m back at three miles, and then I’ll probably add in some different running routes, because boredom might be a factory in my resistance to run.

To Do in the Coming Week – the Usual

  • Work on my mental state and try to find equilibrium
  • Write or edit anything
  • Run
  • Have fun on my business trip to San Diego

Sometimes rest is necessary

I don’t generally watch sports, though I enjoy going to Sharks hockey games and I almost always join family or friends for Superbowl, because of good food and good company and beer.

All I knew about the game going in was that it was supposed to be a good one, since Seahawks have great offense and Broncos have great defense, and everyone I knew was rooting for the Broncos. My family and I decided to go for the Seahawks since they were closest to us geographically.

Twelve seconds into the game, when the Seahawks scored their first touchdown, it was clear how things were going to go, and my family spent the rest of the game marveling at how the Broncos were pretty much destroyed. By the second half, we considered rooting for the Broncos, simply because they looked so downtrodden.

However the game went, it was fun hanging with the fam and eating buffalo wings and watching my niece run around the living room causing chaos like the delightful little monster she it. All in all it was a good Sunday.

Accomplished Last Week

Not much.

Since I started off the week feeling rather ill and stressed out, I just let it be an easy week. I even took Thursday off work and spent the day marathonning episodes of Doctor Who and X-Files while I let myself recover from being sick.

I did manage a bit of exercise with a 4 mile walk with my sisters and my niece on Saturday and a run on Sunday (though I didn’t manage my full three miles).

To Do in the Coming Week – the Usual

  • Write a minimum of 2,000 words on Under the Midday Moon
  • Submit something (poem, story, whatever)
  • Do two runs and a strength training routine
  • Set a budget for the week and stick to it

Weekly Update (because I don't have energy to come up with a clever title)

My weekend was lovely. Spent Saturday night out with a good friend, having a tasty meal at Johnny Garlic’s.

Sunday I met up with another good friend in San Francisco, where we discovered a street fair in preparation for Chinese New Year. We had szechuan food for lunch, checked out City Lights Bookstore (which is amazing! can’t believe I’ve never been!), and then closed out the day with a tea tasting. So much fun. (^_^)

Accomplished in Writing

In one of those moments where an idea just clicks into place, I realized the dynamics of one of the relationships in the story, which allowed me to rewrite a recent chapter and move forward on a stronger footing. Previously this chapter had almost zero conflict, or at least zero conflict based on anything solid. Now it’s much stronger and it creates a nice ripple for conflict in upcoming chapters. Has me excited to get back to making progress on Under the Midday Moon (the title of which I might change).

Two submissions sent out this week, containing one short story to a paying market and three poems to a non-paying market that I think is cool.

In Running

I did my three miles on Saturday using the Zombies, Run! app, which was fun and forced me to do sprints to escape the zombies. Though my pace turned out to be slower, because I think the sprints slowed me down afterward as I tried to even out my breathing.

Sunday’s run was skipped, however, because I decided to let myself take it easy before heading to SF.

To Do in the Coming Week

I’ve been feeling off today, bit of a scratchy throat and, well, just generally off. Also, I’m in the midst of going to press at the day job, which means added stress. So, I’m taking it easy on myself by not actually making a list. If I get some writing done or stuffsomething submitted out, great. If not, well it’s important that I rest.

I just might survive the zombie apocalypse

Zombieland: Rule #1 – Cardio
Zombieland: Rule #1 – Cardio

Over the weekend, I finally reached one of the goals I set for 2013. I ran three miles.

Huzzah!

It’s not the fastest three miles, but it’s not the slowest either. I average about a 12 minute mile, and I’ve noticed that every time I run, I do that first mile just a little bit faster (this weekend, I did that first mile in 11 minutes), which is also awesome.

I have now signed up for the She is Beautiful 5K in Santa Cruz, which will be my first official race in the sense that it’s the first that I plan to run straight through (I’ve done two others that I mostly walked). I’m quite excited.

To make my weekend runs a little more fun and interesting, I have also bought the Zombies, Run! app, which has you as a runner in the zombie apocalypse. It has a whole storyline and you can set it to zombie chases, which force you to run faster to escape the zombies. Along the way you collect various gear, which you can then use to upgrade the camp. It seems like a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to doing runs and playing the game, being the zombie lover that I am. 🙂

My next running goal is to build up to six miles and potentially run in the Wharf to Wharf run in July. I think it’s doable.

In Other News

Not much to report. Getting the info back from my old computer gave me some ideas of what I might send out as submissions, but none have actually been sent.

Novelling progress is still set at zero for the month, though I finally have some good ideas for scenes in my novel, which have me wanting to get back to it.

To Do This Week

  • Write a minimum of 2,000 words on Under the Midday Moon
  • Submit something (poem, story, whatever)
  • Do two runs and a strength training routine
  • Edit Letter Box poetry chapbook and find somewhere to submit it
  • Set a budget for the week and stick to it

The Giant List of Goals, or What I'd Like to Accomplish in 2014

Image by Jay Roeder

I love the new year, if for no other reason than I get to create my giant list of goals. As a whole, it’s not entirely sensible and is partly wrapped up in my love for list making as it is for actually getting anything done — but I can’t help myself.

Goal making in general is a good thing, I believe. Though what works best, in terms of what kind of goals and how they are approached, really depends on the individual. Massive lists like I make don’t work for everyone (and sometimes it doesn’t entirely work for me).

Figuring out what works best is experimental, a process of testing the goal-soaked waters to figure out what works. Every year I take a look at last year’s goals, see what I accomplished and test out some adjustments to the system in order to see what else might work.

Lightning Droplets talks about choosing process over goals, focusing on developing systems for ongoing progress, rather than setting a single goal that can be dropped once it’s a completed.

Last year, I came up with a plan that involved creating “Primary Goals” that would be my main focus per year, as well as a set of “Secondary Goals” that represented wishful-thinking kinds things I hope to get done, if I hve the time. Also, because some of my goals are giant in and of themselves (e.g., write a novel), I also created weekly goals in order to break things down in to bite-sized pieces that wouldn’t over whelm me. The weekly goals also allow me to work toward process, creating a habit of getting something done every week. On the whole this plan worked for me, and I was pleased with what I accomplished in 2013. So, I’m using the same method this year.

I would love to hear about your own goals or plan for getting sh!t done 2014! Please leave me a note in the comments below and/or link to your own goals/resolutions post.

Primary Goals

1. Edit Under the Midday Moon into a novel draft ready for beta readers

I’m feeling at a standstill with my novel. I’m getting close-ish to the end, but I’m struggling through it. So, my plan is to write the main ending scenes, so that I have a better sense of the end, and then proceed to the rewrite with the aim of having a complete novel in readable form by the end of the year. Rewriting the beginning chapters to understand the conflict and relationships better should put me in a better position to know how to make the ending work.

2. Participate in at least two 5k events

Since, as of this weekend, I’ve run two miles straight through, and I know I will be able to run 3 miles by the end of January, the next step is to participate in some 5k running events for fun and glory.

Bonus round: Run a 10k (6 miles!)

3. Submit two chapbooks and/or full-length collections of poetry for publication

I managed this last year, so I’m sure I can pull this off again.

Continue reading “The Giant List of Goals, or What I'd Like to Accomplish in 2014”

Wrapping Up 2013

In January I posted my 2013 goals, both primary and secondary.* Here is how I did this year.

Results of My Primary Goals

1. Finish a coherent draft of Under the Midday Moon (my no-longer-untitled werewolf novel)

Almost there. I would have preferred to have finished the entire draft, but I’m close enough that I can reasonably consider editing the novel as my main goal for 2014. The progress feels good and I think I might actually be able to pull this whole writing a novel thing off.

2. Work up to running three miles

I ran a mile!

I may not have completed my goal, but I kept up with running throughout most of the year and I improved. It took a big push in December, but making it to a mile and feeling like I can now do it again, whenever I want, is a huge thing for me. I feel so great about this. I’m fairly certain that I can run a full three miles by end of January. I just need to keep pushing myself.

As a side effect of all this, I’ve also lost around 40 pounds. It’s interesting to write that out, because the number itself is unimportant. I look at myself in the mirror and don’t really see it (even though others have noticed it), which is why I chose to have my goal be about accomplishments in running, rather than about weight loss. I feel good about the running. I’ve achieved something and I can continue to achieve my goals. And as I result, I feel physically strong and healthy. That’s the most important thing.

3. Submit a chapbook- or full-length collection of poetry for publication

Done! Twice this year, I submitted collections of poetry. They were both rejected, but one came back with a really kind comment suggesting that I submit again. Yay!

4. Address finances

Unfortunately this was my biggest flop. I hate to say it, but I think I’m actually a little worse off than when I started the year out. I’m going to have to refocus on this all over again and try to get a handle on things. I know the amount of trips, though worth it, have had an affect on my finances, so I’ll have to keep that in mind.

Overall

I didn’t manage to get hardly any of my secondary goals done, but I feel good about what I’ve accomplished this year, which included a number of great trips, including San Antonio, Texas, Pensacola, Florida, Washington DC, Mexico City, and Venice and Florence, Italy. All great experiences.

How was your 2013? Did you accomplished your writing or personal goals?

*Okay, so maybe I’m a little list obsessed. But just a little.

Movin' and groovin' through these dark days

I let myself just chill and decompress all last week after the boatload of November’s challenges, so there’s not much to report.

In Writing: At this point, I need to get back to finishing the novel draft. Ideally, I would complete it by the end of December, but I’m not sure I’m going to do that. I basically need to get enough down on the page to be able to edit and I’m not sure struggling through the rest of this draft is the most productive or whether going back and beginning the rewrite process might give me a better sense of where I want to go at the end. Nevertheless, I plan to see what I can get done before the end of the year.

In Body: I kind of slacked off on the running in November, and I’m feeling drawn to get back into it. My body needs it, I can tell.

I’m also trying to get back into a better eating routine, since my habits got all wonky from the comfort eating during the challenges and the Thanksgiving aftermath.

In Reading: I’m enjoying Perks of Being a Wallflower. The structure is interesting, even if it makes for a less poetic flow of words. So far it feels very honest in the sense I think this is how a kid would write, even if this 15 year old sounds younger than other 15 year olds I’ve met.

In Other News: It’s cold outside and dark. Keep in mind I live in Bay Area, California, so those comments are relative. Also, despite spending part of my youth in Alaska, I am now a wimp.

Christmas tree is up in my mom’s house. It took a lot of laughter and two rum-strong eggnogs to accomplish this, due to the tree nearly falling over while we were putting the star on top, ornaments shattering, and light fiascoes. It was a good time, though.

What Needs to Be Accomplished This Week:

  • Write 3,500 words on Under the Midday Moon (~500/day)
  • Submit something (poem, story, whatever)
  • Do a minimum of three workouts (0/3), not including morning yoga
  • Gift Shopping for the Holidays (le sigh)

How was your week? Are you starting to wind down for the end of the year? Or are you ramping up to get some last minute goals accomplished?

Stats for November Challenges!

NaNoWriMo Stats

nano
Nano stats for Saturday, November 30th,
just before midnight.

Total New Words Written in November: 46,419

After writing 12,900 words on Saturday, November 30th in a desperate attempt to beat the midnight deadline, I found myself with no more brain cells left over. So, I stopped an hour and a half before midnight and was just 3,581 words shy of the 50,000 goal.

Even though I didn’t reach the goal, I’m happy with the work I’ve done this month. I have large chunk of the novel now done and I know there ate at least a few of the scenes that I really like (hopefully they’re not the darlings I’ll have to kill later). My hope that I’ll be able to pull off the rest of the novel draft by the end of December, so I can edit in 2014.

With the 13,010 words I wrote pre-NaNo, Under the Midday Moon is now at 59,429 words, which is AWESOME.

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NaBloPoMo Stats

New Blog Posts Written: 27

Total Blogging Words: ~15,866

I started to fall off the blog posting toward the end of the month, because all my energy was taken up with trying to finish NaNo. It was an excellent challenge though, and got me thinking about different ways to approach my blog. I’m thinking about doing the challenge again a few times through out the year (probably not when I have other intense challenges going on).

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Total New Words (Novel & Blog) Written in November: 62,285

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Other Life Stats

Workouts Completed: ~8

I’m not entirely sure of the count, but I made sure to do a minimum of one workout a week, which is vital for my mental, as well as physical health.

Books Read: 10

Reviews to be posted tomorrow are here.

Day Job: We went to press on our December issue just before Thanksgiving. This involved me personally writing over 10 full pages of text, proofing every page of the 64 page issue at least three times, and working with authors and companies to get approval and photos. Lots of work.

On the whole it was a very productive month and I can definitely call it an epic win for myself.

epic-win

NaNoWriMo Update, Vol. 4

It was a slow writing week for me, but I made it up to Chapter 19. My day job has been getting hectic, as we have to go to press by Wednesday and there is a ton of work to do. I didn’t take into account the “day job/going to press will eat all the brains” aspect of November when I decided to do these challenges. So, at this point, I’m not sure that I’ll complete 50,000 words. It’s not IMpossible, but it will be quite a stretch.

I allowed myself to skip Sunday for the NaBloPoMo blogging challenge. I had no ideas and no brain cells to spare. So, I just let myself mentally rest.

Current Project: Under the Midday Moon
(Novel Word Count Before Starting Nanowrimo: 13,010)

Goal: Complete 50,000 New Words and Hopefully the First Draft
New Words This Week: 6,266
Total NaNoWriMo Word Count: 29,073

Random Rough Sentences: I don’t remember what woke me that night. I just remember the night was bright with moonlight, illuminating patches of gleaming snow outside my fogged window. The sparse birch trees stood like ghosts in the dark. I remember wanting to be out under the trees, running, skipping, rolling in the mud, diving through bushes, kicking the leftover snow.

Novelling Notes: I’m in another slow spot in the novel, at least slow for me. It’s basically a set of connecting scenes between one dramatic action sequence and another, and I find these scene necessary, but hard to write. They’re emotional scenes, full of angst, while also requiring plot movement and writing them is like pulling teeth.

The other thing I’m noticing is that I have a lot of plot threads cast out there with two romances (no love triangles), the werewolf angle, and the family dynamics story. While I’m writing a scene(s) focused on one aspect, I tend to forget the others entirely. In rewrites, I think I’m going to have to weave them together a bit more coherently.

Things To Be accomplished in the Coming Week:

  • Miraculously Complete NaNo with 20,927 new words (yikes)
  • Do three workouts (0/3 completed)
  • Post a new blog everyday
  • That’s it (as though that’s not enough)

NaNoWriMo Update, Vol. 3

I did not quite meet NaNo word goal for the week, as I’ve been skipping writing days during the work week. Things are getting hectic at my day job, since we have to go to press with our December issue before Thanksgiving and there is a lot of work to do.

But I made it through Chapter 16 on the novel and I’m happy with the progress of the story.

On Saturday, I inadvertently skipped a day of Nablopomo. I created the post for Saturday, but saved it as a draft instead of posting it, so it ended up being posted on Sunday instead. Whoops. I’ve made it up by posting two posts today, however.

In the mix of this, I managed to do two of my three workouts last week. I feel good about this. With all the sitting at my computer, though, I can also feel my spin and muscles tightening up, reminding me that I need to get back to doing my morning yoga.

Current Project: Under the Midday Moon
(Novel Word Count Before Starting Nanowrimo: 13,010)

Goal: Complete 50,000 New Words and Hopefully the First Draft
New Words This Week: 8,252
Total NaNoWriMo Word Count: 22,807

Random Rough Sentences: Now, the sun was behind the trees and the sky was illuminated with pink, peach, and red, making the snow blush between the elongated shadows of the trees. Mom and I both stood on the porch, watching the sky with the plastic we’d used to cover the broken window flapping slightly behind us.

“I think we should get out of here,” said mom.

Novelling Notes: I don’t have any deep thoughts at this time. I’m pleased with the progress I’m making and how the story is starting to take shape in my mind. Lots of chapters begin and end with “Author’s Notes” pointing out changes I’ll need to make in the editing process.

Things To Be accomplished in the Coming Week:

  • Write a minimum of 12,000 words
  • Do three workouts (1/3 completed)
  • Post a new blog everyday
  • That’s it
Typewriter Keys
Typewriter Keys by Kristin Nador

NaNoWriMo Update, Vol. 2

Along with two strength training workouts and a couple of walks with my sisters and niece, progress continues on the novel. I fell behind on the word count after skipping a couple of days, and so have been playing catch up over the weekend. Now, I’m just about on target again. I would prefer to be ahead of the game, but really it doesn’t matter, because I’ve written more words in this week than I’ve done in months. I have high hopes that I might actually be able to finish the entire draft by the end of the year, if not in November.

Current Project: Under the Midday Moon
(Novel Word Count Before Starting Nanowrimo: 13,010)

Goal: Complete 50,000 New Words and Hopefully the First Draft
New Words This Week: 6,920
Total NaNoWriMo Word Count: 14,555

Random Rough Sentences: The cold was soothing. The sky was black, stars hidden by clouds that smelled like coming snow. The trees beyond the porch light were full of shadows and it would be easy to imagine some creature hiding out there, waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting teenagers. But all I could smell was mud and dead leaves and the leavings of a moose that must have passed by hours ago.

Novelling Notes: Ever since I decided to make a massive plot change to my story, I’ve been seeing a domino effect going through scenes both before and after the plot point that was changed. I was just thinking back to a scene in Chapter Two, which I was particularly fond of, and realized it would have to go, because now it that scene impossible.

I feel like things are progressing well though, even with all the rewriting I’ll have to do, I is a wonderful, wonderful thing to see the story coming together and taking a kind of shape I can work with.

Things To Be accomplished in the Coming Week:

  • Write a minimum of 12,000 words
  • Do three workouts (0/3)
  • That’s it

NaNoWriMo Update, Vol. 1

710f00bb98128a5c11b3d4575560b831Things are going well in Nano land and I’ve met and even exceeded (with the exception of Monday) all my daily word count goals. Over the weekend, I managed this by making writing my priority when I first get up in the morning. Then, once I’ve met my minimum I allow myself to get out of the house and go do something fun. For example, on Saturday I went and played with my niece at the park (a cuter child never existed!) and on Sunday I walked around the farmer’s market with my sister. All good things.

I intended to come back from the fun times and get back to writing, but found I didn’t have it in me to do any more writing those days. Since I had already met my daily word goals, I just let myself relax — something I really needed.

Current Project: Under the Midday Moon
(Novel Word Count Before Starting Nanowrimo: 13,010)
Goal: Complete 50,000 New Words and Hopefully the First Draft
New Words: 7,635
Total NaNoWriMo Word Count: 7,635
Random Rough Sentences: N/A (laptop got left at home and I don’t have access to my drafts at the moment).

Novelling Notes: I’m still having trouble balancing all  the little threads of plot and relationships. When two characters are alone  in a room together, everything else just disappears. For some scenes that’s okay. For others, I think it makes it so that people forget everything else that is supposed to be going on. Though maybe that’s just my impression, and readers might have a different experience. Now I’m trying to get a better balance of the people and their concern for one another into the scenes.

I’m also getting a better feel for the relationships themselves, which in previous chapters had come off as a bit flat. I’m hoping the relationships seem more interconnected and messy and multidimensional now, but until I get feedback, it’s kind of hard for me to tell.

Advice for Nano-ers:

  • Try to push past the daily minimum in order to build up a word count cushion. That way, if you have to miss a day later in the month, then it’s not such a big deal.
  • Get the writing done first, then allow yourself to get outside and play, or even just relax. I find that mental breaks from all the writing helps me be more focused when I return to the work.

Things To Be accomplished in the Coming Week:

  • Write a minimum of 10,000 words
  • Do three workouts (1/3)
  • That’s it

Good Reading: Over at The Bell Jar is a lovely post called “Learning to Love My Nose,” which talks about body perception. It’s a fantastic read, and one that made me want to try to love myself more and judge others less.

“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” – Philip Roth

Goodness, it seems it’s been almost two whole months (!) since I’ve last posted a Monday Update. During that time I have completed next to no writing and, while I have been doing my weekly training at the gym, my running days have been sporadic at best. Since all my traveling is done for the year, I’m planning on hoping back on the wagon and getting some thinks done by the end of December in the hopes of completing most, if not all of my primary goals for the year.

November is NaNoWriMo, in which writers from around the world attempt to write 50,000 words in the month of November. Technically this is supposed to be a new novel, something you haven’t touched before. But since I really want to complete the draft of my werewolf novel, Under the Midday Moon, I’m planning to use the challenge for that purpose with the hope that 50,000 words will be enough for me to finish the draft. If I can get this done, then next year’s big goal can be focused on editing the dang thing.

As for the running…, it is still possible to reach my goal of running three complete miles by the end of the year, I suppose. So, I will still keep working toward that goal. If I can get to where I’m running one mile, though, I’ll be happy. I’m also thinking of buying the zombie runner app, just because I think it would be fun and would add some variety to my training.

To be accomplished in the coming week:

  • Write a minimum of 5,100 words on Under the Midday Moon as part of Nano challenge
  • Submit something (poem, story, whatever)
  • Do a minimum of two runs.

.

Good Reading: I’ve found two posts that could be helpful in my own goal setting this week.

Visuals for goals make an impression” talks about how adding a visual element to your accomplishments can help spur continued progress, like awarding yourself gold stars on the days you workout or pinning up your race bibs as Lisa J. Jackson did. I’m thinking a calendar for the year for posting stars would be great. I might also incorporate not only stars or smileys for exercise, but also for when I submit some of my writing for publication and/or when I receive an acceptance. I’ll have to get a variety of stickers for that purpose. Posting rejection letters, acceptance letters, and/or race bibs is also a great idea, and I may do that as well. 🙂

And on Courage 2 Create, Ollin Morales talks about “How To Add More Time To Your Day (AKA: How to Make The Most of The Time You Do Have),” something that I’ve been definitely feeling as a challenge lately.

“I have tried to see how I can literally add more time to my day. Unfortunately, I have learned that there is no way to actually add more time to your day, but I have learned that there are ways to make the most of the time you do have, and also how to make it appear as if the time is stretching out longer, rather than shrinking at a rapid pace.”

His advice is pretty darn good, and I’m going to try to practice a few of his suggestions in the hopes of getting done what I need to get done.

We’re in the fourth and final quarter for the year. How are you doing with your year long goals? Or, how are are you doing with your day-to-day goals?

Wonderland Lettering Completed

I’ve been avoiding writing. But since I’ve been avoiding writing by doing something creative, I don’t actually feel too bad about that fact. I spent much of my evenings last week and part of my weekend finishing the “Sienna in Wonderland” art work for my niece’s room by adding layers of paint to each panel. I always kind of kick myself when I do super thin lines in the forms of spirals like this, because I don’t have great brushes for that kind of detail work. It turned out fine, though, and I’m happy with the final product.

Sienna in Wonderland wall art

in

Sienna in Wonderland wall art

I have also painted the frames, so that one will be bright blue and the other bright purple. It should make a great addition to my niece’s bedroom.

The wood cutout of a teapot will be painted by my sister Pilar (aka, Auntie No. 2), so once it’s all complete and hanging on my niece’s wall, I’ll be sure to take a final picture to show you guys.

I’m not posting a goals list this week and probably won’t next week either, since it’s impractical to expect myself to complete a big long list of to-dos when I’ll be traveling both this and next weekend. The first weekend trip with be half for work and half for play with me spending a few days on the Pensacola, FL beach. The second weekend trip will be to Washington, DC to meet up with some of my tumblr buddies, and we’ll be checking out the local museums and other fun stuff.

Still, there’s opportunity over the next couple of days to, as Pilar says, “get sh!t done,” so we’ll see how it goes. Mostly I don’t want to overwork myself, because I want to stay healthy for my trips.

"As human beings, we have a natural compulsion to fill empty spaces." – Will Shortz

One submission was made last week of a previously rejected story and I finished the sketch stage of creating my niece’s wall art, which you can see below.

Wall Art – Part I
Wall art for my niece

Wall Art – Part II
Wall art for my niece

In between these will be a wood cutout of a teapot with the word “in” on it (which my other sister will be creating), so it will read “Sienna in Wonderland” once it is all completed. The next step with these pieces will be to add paint in yellow, teal, purple, and/or blue. I will probably do some test patches before deciding.

I have been out of the groove with writing lately and I’m having a hard time getting back into it. I need some deadlines I think, or at least a schedule to kick me back into gear.

To be accomplished in the coming week:
– Finish second half of Chapter Six of Under the Midday Moon
– Submit something (poem, story, whatever)
– Workout at least three days with two workouts being running training (0/3)
– Do three morning yoga workouts (0/3)
– Practice my Spanish
– Do color testing and final paintwork on niece’s wall art

– Make Progress on Organization (do one or more of the following):
• Buy shower curtain hooks for organizing scarves
• Find a way to better organize shoes with double shelf or slots
• Buy a tie hangar for necklaces and create rack for earrings
• Shred papers and dispose of them
• Measure pictures and buy frames

"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together." ~ Vincent Van Gogh

Last week was starting to shape up into another nothing-gets-done kind of week, when BAM!  I somehow got smacked with some determination and began cleaning out my shelf, adding items to my Goodwill pile, tossing others, and reorganizing the rest. I even created an itemized list to go with the receipt and then took the bags and boxes to the donation station (follow through? what?).

This new sense of order inspired me to go a step further and attack the craft, writing, and office supplies in my closet. I went through every random box in there, from empty shoe boxes to big bins to get a sense of what was where. I kept finding surprises — stuff I’d shoved into boxes because I didn’t know what to do with it or knew what to do with but didn’t have a place for. I kept asking myself over and over, why? why on earth would I have put this here. I have no easy answer.

My closet is now the most organized it has been since, well, since I’ve had it. I now have access to my painting and art supplies, which have been placed in plastic drawers and easy to reach bins, while putting the things I don’t need as often out of the way.

Goddess, that feels good.

With my exercise goals accomplished and the organization done, I feel good about last week, even if I didn’t move my writing goals forward.

Organizational-wise, I have to get some tools to get my shoes and jewelery under control, but that’s a small thing. My next big hurdle will be to try to bring order to my writing projects (various short stories, poetry, etc.), and I don’t have the foggiest how to do that.

Any suggestions on how you keep stories, novels, and all their notes and drafts in order (both in print and in the computer) would be greatly appreciated.

To be accomplished in the coming week:
– Finish second half of Chapter Six of Under the Midday Moon
– Submit something (poem, story, whatever)
– Workout at least three days with two workouts being running training (0/3)
– Do three morning yoga workouts (1/3)
– Practice my Spanish
– Finish stenciling on art project for niece’s bedroom

– Make Progress on Organization (do one or more of the following):
• Buy shower curtain hooks for organizing scarves
• Find a way to better organize shoes with double shelf or slots
• Buy a tie hangar for necklaces and create rack for earrings
• Shred papers and dispose of them
• Measure pictures and buy frames

Monday Update with a hearty helping of Link Soup

First, I present to you some Link Soup.

  • Poets might be interested to learn that submissions are open for a Mermaid Anthology from Sundress Publications that is “interested in poems that push the mermaid myth and figure into a new light. Submissions should not simply retell the mermaid and her classic story but establish new facets in which to read, question, admire, interrogate, and fear this fantastical siren.”
  • Historical fiction, fantasy, and movies have done a lot to erase people of color from mainstream consciousness, to the point that many writers and readers argue that including POC in stories is unrealistic. Medieval POC is a fantastic blog that presents historical evidence of POC existing in Europe in the middle ages.
  • Maleficent is a new live action Disney movie coming out that will tell the story of sleeping beauty from the villain’s point of view. I’ve long thought Meleficent was cool and I have hopes that this will be decent. I just hope they make her a strong complex character without letting things get too corny.
  • I’ve recently found out about the Disposable Film Fest, which presents short films created with “low cost video technology: everyday equipment like mobile phones, pocket cameras, DSLRs and other inexpensive devices.” I keep trying to figure out when the fest is presented in San Fran, so that I can go and I’d also like to try to put together and submit a film. In the mean time, I’m loving the shorts on the website, like this year’s grand prize winner, Malaria, which is amazing.

* * * *

What got accomplished last week? Not much. I got my running days in, but nothing else. *sigh*

That which must be accomplished in the coming week:
– Finish second half of Chapter Six of Under the Midday Moon
– Submit something (poem, story, whatever)
– Workout at least three days with two workouts being running training (0/3)
– Do three morning yoga workouts (0/3)
– Practice my Spanish
– Get stenciling done on art project for niece’s bedroom

– Make Progress on Organization (do one or more of the following):
• Find a minimum of ten items (big or small) that can be gotten rid of and get rid of them
• Take all items to donate to Goodwill

"We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled….

…The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” ~ Ray Bradbury

Wow, so it’s been an entire month since I’ve done a Monday Update post — during that month, there’s been a trip to Mexico, followed by me coming home and getting sick, while trying to pull off my day job work with lots of over time hours. I haven’t really had the spoons to be able to think about doing any thing else, including running (though I’ve done some strength training with my personal trainer).

Despite that, I managed to polish off the Letter Box poetry chapbook and submit it (accomplished on the very last day to submit, but I did it), and inquired about the few submissions I have out. Since I still haven’t heard a response, I’m going to call them rejected and send them elsewhere.

The really, really good news is that the The 2013 Rhysling Anthology, which includes my poem “Red Riding Hood Remembers” is now available and you can go buy and read it and stuff. (^_^)

That which must be accomplished in the coming week:
– Finish second half of Chapter Six of Under the Midday Moon
– Submit something (poem, story, whatever)
– Workout at least three days with two workouts being running training (0/3)
– Do three morning yoga workouts (0/3)
– Practice my Spanish
– Get stenciling done on art project for niece’s bedroom

– Make Progress on Organization (do one or more of the following):
• Find a minimum of ten items (big or small) that can be gotten rid of and get rid of them
• Take all items to donate to Goodwill

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

Last week’s accomplishments include finishing a chunk of chapter six of the novel, inquiring to two journals about the status of my submissions, and doing two of my three required exercises.

I’m going to go ahead and include my list of to-do’s, though this is going to be a crazy week as I’m prepping for a work trip to Mexico City on Sunday (which will require some shopping and a trip to the drycleaners) and have a work dinner tomorrow, among other bits and tidbits of things going on.

So, while I’m posting my to-do list, I’m going to go easy on myself. If I don’t get it done, I don’t get it done.

That which must be accomplished in the coming week:
– Finish second half of Chapter Six of Under the Midday Moon
– Write, edit, and submit poem to Love Lettered
– Edit Letter Box poetry chapbook and submit it
– Workout at least three days with two workouts being running training (0/3)
– Practice my Spanish

– Make Progress on Organization (do one or more of the following):
• Shred papers and dispose of them
• Find a minimum of ten items (big or small) that can be gotten rid of and get rid of them
• Take box of items to donate to Goodwill

varying states of stasis

The good thing about housesitting is that I have access to internet and Netflix instant streaming (hello, Fringe), which I don’t have at home. The bad thing about housesitting is that I have access to internet and Netflix instant streaming.

That said, I did manage to get a minimal amount of work done on my novel (about 350 words), so it wasn’t a total bust. I also did 2/3 of my workouts, which isn’t ideal, but not too bad considering it was Hades hot outside this weekend.

I only have three days to get things done this week, as I’ll be off to Clear Lake for an extended weekend, where I intend to relax and not stress about a thing.

That which must be accomplished in the coming week:
– Finish Chapter Five of Under the Midday Moon
– Submit something (poetry, fiction, whatever)
– Send inquiry emails to two submissions I’m waiting on a reply for
– Edit Letter Box poetry chapbook and submit it
– Workout at least three days with two workouts being running training (0/3)
– Practice my Spanish
– Make Progress on Organization (do one or more of the following):
• Shred papers and dispose of them
• Find a minimum of ten items (big or small) that can be gotten rid of and get rid of them
• Take box of items to donate to Goodwill

My mom is awesome and other news

Saturday, my mom and I decided to hit the local trail in Los Gatos. I had intended to just do my run and then head home, but upon hearing my mom’s plans to walk the entire trail loop (a 4-ish mile stretch that involves some steep hills). In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best idea I’ve had.

We did the running intervals first, which went smoothly, then started walking up the hills. It was hot and one of the hills looked almost like this /, so it was very difficult. I probably didn’t drink enough water or eat enough food that morning, so I got extremely light headed halfway up. I was fine when I reached the top and the trail leveled out, but it was rough going for a while there.

But the trail being rough isn’t the point of the story. The point is that my mom is awesome.

At one point during our walk, my mom drifted ahead of me with her headphones in her ears. To music only she could hear, she began to fan her arms over her head in circles and loops and spirals in a kind of walking dance. She followed this with childlike skips and hops and tippy toe sprints, all smiling and in tune with what ever she was listening to. I couldn’t help but smile at her dancing, at her freedom of self, at her willingness to just play. It made me want to skip and cavort, too, so I did (for a little bit). It made me think of the way as a kid I could just run around and play without embarrassment, and that I wanted more silliness in my life.

Here’s a new goal for myself: Live life with childlike abandon and joy.

So, in other week roundup news, exercise was very successful with four of three completed.

Writing and organizing was less successful, as in nonexistent. I’m giving myself a break on the organizing, though, since I’ve been housesitting and thus haven’t been at home to work on it. I’m housesitting this week, too, but I’m leaving my organizing goals on the list, because maybe I’ll work on it next weekend.

That which must be accomplished in the coming week:
– Finish Chapter Five of Under the Midday Moon
– Submit something (poetry, fiction, whatever)
– Edit Letter Box poetry chapbook and submit it
– Workout at least three days with two workouts being running training (0/3)
– Practice my Spanish
– Make Progress on Organization (do one or more of the following):
• Shred papers and dispose of them
• Find a minimum of ten items (big or small) that can be gotten rid of and get rid of them
• Take box of items to donate to Goodwill