Camp, take 3

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So as of today, I met and exceeded a couple of writing goals for this month. 

I “won” CampNaNo although I haven’t validated it, yet. 

I participated in Full Moon Madness, 5k Weekend and New Moon Challenge sponsored by WriYe – the 3 biggest writing challenges in the community. And I met the goals. The full WriYe year goal is 75k words. Guess what. I actually hit the monthly minimum. 

Did I combine all smaller challenges to count toward the monthly goal? Um, yeah. I’m a lot of things, but stupid isn’t one of them.

It’s amazing what one can accomplish in 3 days off!

Camp NaNo Change

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Last week I said I was working part 3 of the VC story set. Well, I changed my mind. And here’s why..

The whole goal of creating the VC set around the Wheel of the Year – pagan sabbats – was to highlight each “holiday”. We’ve just passed Ostara and Beltane is around the corner. It makes more sense to write about an upcoming event, than it does to right about the past one. At least, it does to me.

Today and tomorrow, between appointments and housework, I’ll gather research, outlines and the Beltane story already in the works. The outlines will be reworked to reflect a more cohesive timeline. It is a generational collection, after all. By the time I close my eyes tomorrow night, I should have a solid foundation for the entire set.

Who knows…I may get rolling on part 5 – Midsummer. 

Camp NaNo, Round 1

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Yup, I’m doing Camp this year. Project: VC part 3 -Ostara. 

This part is the least complete, therefore its prime Camp fodder. I’ll do prep work for the rest of this month and, outline and unanswered questions in hand, tackle this nugget on my days off in April. 

I’ve been working on a play list, too (Spotify is an awesome tool), and a lot of the music which spoke to me is being added to other projects’ play lists as I go along. The downside to a virtually neverending supply of tunes is the ability to get distracted like a squirrel. 

My word count goal is 5,000 words, which averages about 500 wpd. Maybe I’ll get lucky and surpass that. 

Fingers crossed. 

Putting ‘The Plan’ in Motion

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So each year I set a writing goal for myself and have rarely met it. This year is a different story…

While I have several projects in the works, only one will come out in December. My plan is to finish, edit and publish Viktic Crossing. It probably won’t be called that when its done, though. Hell, it will likely go through several titles before I choose one. 

Im still using the prompts from A Writer’s Book of Days to write little snippets of the story. Eight generations of story. A family lineage stemming from a chance encounter between Viking raider and Celtic priestess. Its next level Vikings shit. And it will be awesome. 

The Keeper of the Bayou story will probably end up being a major flash forward piece of that. We’ll see. The potential is there and it could lead to more in between generational stories. That way the family could be traced back about 900 years. 

As side note: I’m doing WriYe’s 31 Days of Original Characters challenge. It’s neat. Create an original character every day in January. But, because we have lives, there are tiers. I opted for 12 characters based on the number of days off I have from work. So far I’m at 8, and will finish with more than 12 (doing them at work, too….shhh).

Anyone doing a writing challenge this month? Share in comments.

Get Out, Do More

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One of my goals this year is to get out and interact with people more often. Its actually a two-fold goal when I factor in a more active spiritual path.

Just before Mom passed last year I finally joined a local group – Acadiana Spiritual Association, or ASA for short – to expand my circle. (No pun intended.) I’d been a solitary for years, and decided it was then or never. 

In August I went to General Assembly as just an ordinary member. Two of the Council members were stepping down and I was asked to step up. So, I did. Fast forward to 1/18…I was confirmed for the Council and declared Secretary. Apparently I said I like to organize stuff and that was that. 

Being part of ASA and on the Council will give me the social interaction I need as well as set me firmly back on my spiritual path. I’ll be around people with similar interests, and have a voice in what activities are planned. There are many people out there in the same boat and those are the ones I want to help through this role. 

In August there was discussion about providing information to those who are curious about non-mainstream religions or just starting their paths. The last is something I can relate to more recently than the other Council members, and outreach is something I’m good at. 

2017 is certainly shaping up to be an interesting year.

How We Learn to Write 

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In the however many years I’ve been writing, there are only a few resources which have really helped me. Here are 2 of them.

Gabriela Pereira’s DYI MFA and Judy Reeves’s A Writer’s Book of Days. I’ve been working with both for about 3 months and, truthfully, I’d recommend them to writers at any level. Well, except maybe those who sell more books than the GNP of a small European country. And even then, if a prolific writer’s content has gone stale, it could be of major use.

Pereira’s book, while fast paced, is basically a MFA is short form. She breaks it all down for us and provides fantastic acronyms for certain processes. There’s even a website for readers to get some freebie info. See the brass fasteners at the pile’s bottom? That’s the biggest freebie of all. Once you buy the book – and it is totally worth it – sign-up for her newsletter and get that workbook. You won’t regret it.

Reeves’s book is organized by month, and has daily mini-prompts tucked in between anecdotes and helpful guidance. I actually started this Sept 1, but with the way my day job interfered, I decided to start fresh Jan 1 and do the whole book through til New Year’s. I’m keeping the daily prompts on my Kindle and doing them in the morning over coffee before work. As a bonus, I’m using the prompts to beef up scenarios for one of my WIPs and it’s working like a charm. At the end of the month, I’ll email them to myself and save in a master doc.

Each book is unique and each reader will take something away different than someone else. I’ve combined them to create a highly-personalized curriculum to coincide with my days off to get the most benefit from the “course” I created. It’s already making a difference in my writing. Like I said in my last post, writing will be a priority in 2017 regardless of what’s going on in my life. In a way, I’m “hacking” my writing process.

A Year Can Bring So Much

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Like most people, I’m thrilled 2016 is over.

Here’s a chronological breakdown of my year…

My daughter turned 18 at the end of March so I whirlwind-tripped to celebrate with her and my son. We ate out every day, went shopping and hit the movies. Basically the kids skipped school so we could hang out and spend time together. It was a great trip.

Two weeks after getting back we moved into a three-bedroom, 2.5 bath townhouse. The kitchen is adorable and we’ve turned this place into a real home. It’s a great place with room to move around. Small, quiet neighborhood and closer to our jobs. Our landlord is nice and our neighbor shares food he makes. It’s a win-win.

On May 15th my mom passed away. I went back up and took care of all her affairs, cleaned out her apartment and handled it very business-like. It’s finally hitting me, eight months later, I mean really hitting me, that she’s gone. I went through all the stages one goes though and have apparently saved the actual sad part of grief for now. We all process loss differently.

My boyfriend’s mom and sister came down and spent a few days with us in early June. He entertained them while I worked and we all took a day trip to New Orleans (a bittersweet experience). It was wonderful having them here, getting to know them. I hope they make the trip, again.

Somehow we both managed to get the week of Thanksgiving off so we drove up to St Louis to see his mom and sister. It was awesome – in the truest sense of the word. We visited the Arch and rode it to the top, hit the zoo and accidently attended Mass at the St Louis Cathedral Basilica (the Cardinal was in town!). Words cannot express the beauty in that church. The whole trip was great and I can’t wait for the next time.

I have thanked my man more than once for sharing his mom amd sister with me.

Work has kept me on my toes. We “lost” a store manager and 3 associates in a six-week period. Then another manager was in a major car accident and out for 11 days. Needless to say I’ve been busy at work. Last month I had 6 days off – 1 of them was Christmas (whole company was closed). Things will be changing on this front this year. Probably going full time, supposedly getting a cost-of-living raise, and potentially spending 1 day a week visiting stores in my area as an unofficial in-house auditor.

Writing was quite non-existent. I wrote very little; just didn’t have it in me. I’m a supporter of writing to facilitate healing, and I totally need to take my own advice, but I don’t know where to start.

Which brings me to goals for 2017…

  • Write more.
    • Actually finish one of my WIPs and prep it for publishing at the end of the year.
  • Get healthy and hopefully lose some weight.
    • Make better food choices – first up: no chips! 
    • Get back into yoga and meditation.
  • Be out in the world more (ASA membership and council participation will help satisfy that part).
  • Develop my spiritual path more deeply (ASA, again).
  • Read more.
    • Fiction, nonfiction, whatever. I just need to read.
  • If it doesn’t make me happy, it goes away. Life is too damn short to fill my life with bullshit. Basically, I’m going to drink my own kool-aid.

Oh, and I turned 40 last month!

    Let 2017 be amazing!

    A Mini Writing Retreat for One, Please

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    We’ve all heard about writing retreats. They’re usually hosted on a sprawling ranch or at some seaside resort,  and attended by large group of people.

    Not your scene? Yeah, mine, either.

    Enter the Solo Writing Retreat.

    For me, joining – and staying with – a writing group is a bit daunting. I want to do it, but at the same time I don’t dare to really let myself fully participate. Basically, how I feel about joining the local Pagan group applies, here, too. Funny enough, I got the idea for the solo writing retreat from a book called The Magickal Retreat, the author whom I forget and am currently too lazy to look up.

    I adapted a shorter format, roughly 4h, from the book to work for my writing. And you know what?

    It friggin’ worked. Really well.

    I grabbed the first draft and all notes – including brainstorming – of “Rising” and sat down for nearly 4h. Accompanying me was the entire office supply aisle from Wal-Mart. And the cat. She thought she was helping.

    So today I did what I should have right along: made progress on the project. Of course, I discovered it needs almost a total gut job. Or at least a damn thorough remodeling.

    Note to self: Take photos next time.

    Because there will be a next time. Today felt good.

    I behaved like an actual writer.

    New Year, New Me Bullshit

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    Yup, even I’m not immune.

    In addition to my personal writing goals, I’ve been given the opp to basically run the WriYe Tumblr page. Thank you; hold your applause… Twitter and Facebook, too.

    Santa brought me a FitBit Charg HR for Christmas. A purple one; Santa knows I love purple. One of my New Year/New Me goals was to start “getting healthy” like a billion other people. There just happens to be a resident-only fitness center a short walk from our door. Guess who hit it 2 days in a row…

    Yesterday I logged 2.5 mi between the treadmill and elliptical. Today I said “fuck you evil elliptical” and logged another 2.5 on the t’mill. In fact, I made all my goals: steps,  activity duration, distance, sleep and water intake. My FitBit is friggin awesome.

    The “unfortunate thing” about it is I’m limited in terms of workout clothes. Any of my fellow bloggers are more than welcome to share good places for inexpensive threads.

    Back to writing updates…

    I’ve chosen the 4 projects to focus on: Rising, Keeper of the Bayou, Viktic Crossing aaaaaand EQ. The plan is to have all 4 knocked out by end of the year and stagger published in 2017. Key word being “plan”. One project each quarter, with a different task for each month.

    This quarter is all about Rising and January is thorough editing. February is new content and March is final edits and cover. I’ve got zero ideas about the cover, though. I don’t want stock photos; I want original artwork even if its me taking a photo and pasting words on it.

    Now I’m mumbling. Queue bedtime.

    Night guys and gals 🙂

    December, You Sneaky Bastard

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    I’ve got some interesting news to share, today. Other than it being December, of course. Grab a cup of something warm and settle in. This is kind of a long post.

    I’m coming off a 10-day vacation (yay) and go back to work tomorrow (boo). It was a really good vacation, too. We didn’t go anywhere, but we did spend a lot of time together just chillin’ out. I made a big Thanksgiving spread (which we’re still eating), watched Jessica Jones on Netflix, got some Redbox movies and took a lot of naps. By the way…Detroit Lions whooped Philadelphia Eagles ass on Thanksgiving.

    I’m sad to see the vacation end, but you know how it is. Back to the grind and onto the interesting news.

    This year I co-hosted the WriYe Tumblr blog, something most of you were aware. Back in September or October, one of the mods approached me to help out on the actual site for 2016. Like, the official WriYe forum site. I hemmed and hawed and finally submitted the “application” that the team was requesting from interested people.

    Imagine my surprise after not hearing anything for awhile, I get a notification that I’ve been added as a Global Moderator! Next thing I know, I’m signing up to handle 2 forums and adding the Twitter and Facebook accounts to my list. A fair amount of time each week will be dedicated solely to WriYe, on top of the Tumblr, which I agreed to oversee for 2016.

    Just like when I do Tumblr, my activity and participation will be done on days off from work. Most of it can actually be done on my phone while at work (during down time, of course) if it doesn’t require a cut/copy/paste situation.

    Which leads me to my plans for December…

    • 12 Days of Consistency Challenge (write a certain minimum word count each day for 12 consecutive days) – I chose 320.
    • New Moon Challenge 12/11
    • WriDay 12/15
    • Full Moon Madness 12/25 (I already have an idea for this one.)

    These are all challenges hosted by WriYe, and they really do get a chunk of that word count goal eaten. Well, they would if I participate(d). I’m also going to…

    • Go through the 2016 Writer’s Market and look for contests and publishing opportunities
    • Make a list of WIPs and decide which projects to focus on next year.
    • Make a list of WIMs (works in mind) and choose a couple worth exploring.
    • Update all my social media places
    • Write as much as I can.

    I’m not going to make any hard deadlines, yet, since each month’s writing plans will have to work around my day job and the schedules don’t come out until after the 17th. Even then it could change, so yeah. Soft deadlines, it is.

    Which leads me to my New Year’s Resolutions. Yeah, I’m making them early. This way I can ease into them, instead of going cold turkey balls out on the 1st…

    • Eat better and move more
    • Sleep better/more
    • WRITE MORE
    • Be more aware of my body’s signals and slow down when it tells me to
    • Get back on my spiritual path
    • Go outside more for fun (helps satisfy pretty much all of the above)
    • Get more organized
    • Donate unused clothes to charity.

    I should be able to keep at least 1 of those, right?

    What are your writing plans for December?