Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Challenge Completed

The NaNoWriMo official word count goal is 50'000 words. When I started NaNo, I thought this sounded like a great deal of words. More than I could handle almost. But as the days of NaNo passed, and I ripped through the word count, it suddenly didn't seem like much of a challenge.

My first novel, The Portal ended at about 51'800, written in ten days. I'd finished first of anyone in my house. What was I going to do now? I couldn't go back to normality yet. Not while everyone else was still novelling away. And so it was that my next challenge was born.

50'000 words wasn't enough of a challenge. I set my sights higher. Twice as high to be exact. My new goal was 100'000 words. Stupid? Yes.

I started The DARE Squad as my second half of the word count. The days slipped passed, and the word count rose, not as fast as for The Portal but fast enough for me. I was well on track for a huge win, even with a day off for my birthday.

Today, after a huge push over this weekend, I have finally finished my huge, crazy goal. 100'127 words now sit on my computer. Two novels await editing. And me? I want a rest for a day or so. I want time to rest my eyes, and my wrists. Then I'm ready to jump into the editing process. My next goal? Edit 100'000 words. It might take more than a month though.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Princess of the Palace

I always dreamed of a beautiful bedroom, all pink and pretty, a bedroom fit for a princess. I wanted a room of my very own, a room I could put pictures up in without worrying what the landlords thought of holes in the walls. But it seemed a hopeless case. After living my whole life in rented houses there didn't seem much possibility of getting a room like that.

That was before we bought our own house. Suddenly everything was possible. Though I didn't get a room to myself, I did get a nice room. All our furniture had been painted before the move in matching green and pink.

We furnished the room, and never thought about how it looked again. But slowly, surely we gathered new things in it. Pictures appeared on our walls. A pink butterfly wall hanging was acquired on our beach holiday. Computers and printers moved around the room.

Only a few days ago we moved everything round again. Printers, tables and ornaments switched places. After our hard work, Charlotte and I stood back and looked at our room. And we gasped. How beautiful our room was. Everything had a place it fitted in. Everything matched.

It was then I realised, I had my pink room, my room fit for a princess. I had my pictures, my beautiful furniture. I didn't have a room to myself, but it didn't matter. I couldn't imagine living without Charlotte in the same room.

We're princesses of our little palace. And a palace it's going to stay.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Carrie Helps the DARE Squad

My cousin Carrie and I both like writing and drawing. And we both enjoy discussing our latest projects over the email. We share chapters of our stories, pictures of our characters, and writing complaints.

When I told Carrie about my newest NaNoWriMo story The DARE Squad, she was delighted with it. I told her all about it, and even sent her a picture I'd drawn of the four main characters. Imagine my surprise and delight when she sent me back a picture she'd drawn of them.
The DARE Squad as drawn by Carrie

Then I asked her the same question I asked you readers in my post 'The DARE Squad'. I challenged her to come up with a meaning for the acronym DARE. She responded at once with some interesting, and occasionally funny answers.

They are:The Dangerous Accident Response Establishment
The Defense Against Radical Exploits
The Department of Accidentally Removed Elements
The Death Administration for Rapid Eradication
The Detective Academy for Rookie Education
The Department of Abnormally Rotund Elephants
Jo and Emma, two of the DARE Squad members

So far, none of these quite fit the bill, though they have got me thinking. Especially the elephant one!

I'd like to set you the same challenge. Can you find an acronym for the word 'DARE' that will suit a teen spy group? I'd love to see your ideas.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Happy Birthday Twin!

Today I have a guest blogger, writing especially for my birthday. My Mum! I hope you enjoy her wonderfully written blog post.

We have two sorts of children in our family. Those that look like my husband, Andy and those who look like me. We have ‘your’ children and ‘my’ children.

When Imogen was born 17 years ago, we suspected she was one of ‘my’ children. And as she grew, she became more and more like me. Our suspicions were confirmed.

People think we look alike. Can you believe people even muddle us up?

We go to a party and a friend bumps into me. “Oh Sue, I thought you were down the other end of the room…. That must have been Imogen.”

We visit the supermarket and we’re at the check-out. The operator looks from me to Imogen and back again. “Are you two related? You look so alike.”

I post some photos of Imogen on Facebook and someone writes: “Sue, she has GOT to be yours… she looks just like you! :)”

We’re walking down the street and someone shouts, “You’re twins!”

Yes, we are twins.

I can’t imagine why anyone would say Imogen looks like me, her ageing mother. But I am not objecting. I think Imogen is beautiful. I don’t mind being compared to her at all.

I ask Imogen, “How do feel when people say you look like me? How do you like being compared with your 50 year old mother?”

Imogen is very gracious. “I love it, Mum! I think you’re beautiful.”

It is Imogen’s birthday on Sunday. My daughter is turning 17. But I am wondering: does Imogen look 50 like her twin mother? Or… does her mother look 17?

Imogen and I have great fun pondering such silly questions…. We always have fun, my twin and me. We are kindred spirits.

What would I do without my kindred spirit twin? We write stories, we talk about anything and everything, we drink coffee, we eat enormous gooey cakes, we read great books, we blog, we sew, we exercise, we shop, we work, we learn, we cook, we laugh, we laugh a lot… All these things we do together. I love my kindred spirit twin. I love her very much.

Happy Birthday ‘my’ Imogen!

Do you think we look alike? Can you tell we are mother and daughter?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Blogging Ghosts

It's morning tea time. Time to do the blogging rounds. I check my blog feeds, read new posts, and jump out of the blogosphere leaving no trace behind. No, not even one comment. I'm the blogging ghost.

It's not that I don't like what people have written. It's not that I haven't anything to say. It's merely that I don't bother to take the time to write a few short lines in the comment box. I prefer to stay anonymous.

I wonder how many people like that read my blog. I wonder how many people dance through the blogosphere, silent and unseen. Probably many more than stop and say hello.

I love it when people stop on my blog and leave a comment. Even when it's just one line, it still makes my day to read it. And if it makes my day, it'll make other people's days too. There's no reason for my ghosting, other than laziness. Taking a few moments to write a comment doesn't take much effort. But, if the other person is like me, they'll enjoy receiving the comment.

I'm going to make an effort now. I'm making a resolution. No more blogging ghosting for me. I'm going to become a comment, am already trying now. I'm going to try and make someone's day a little bit brighter, one comment at a time.

Do you ghost through the blogosphere like me? Or are you more social? Do comments make your day, or aren't you bothered?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NaNo Art

Being in a drawing mood today, I opened my sketch book, grabbed a pencil and prepared to draw. What could I draw today? What is big in my life at the moment? The answer was obvious. NaNoWriMo. Yes, I'd draw a piece of NaNo art. But what?

The first thing that occurred to me was that I could write 'NaNoWriMo' down. Maybe that would be a good starting point. And so, with many millions of guidelines, I began. The picture grew and grew, turning into less of a picture, and more poster style.

Bold colours jumped out of the pencil box. Blue and brown, the colours of NaNo, filled the background. Bright yellows and oranges coloured the words. Under my fingertips, the page came to life.

So, this is my first attempt at NaNo art. What do you think of it? Could you see it as a poster advertising NaNo? Because I can.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The DARE Squad

Click on the picture to enlarge it.

After finishing my NaNoWriMo novel so early, I found myself wondering what to do next? No one else in my family had finished theirs yet. I was one on my own. Well, it wouldn't be any fun to go back to normal while everyone else was enjoying themselves. And so, I planned and began my new novel 'The DARE Squad'.

I first began to think about it when I idly looked at the dare machine on the young writer's program site. After writing many of the dares down, I suddenly had a brain wave. What if I wrote a book about a group of teen secret agents? What if they had to stop an evil villain from taking over time itself? And thus my story started.

To take a break from writing, giving my poor sore wrists a rest, I drew my four main characters: Marco, Chaz, Jo, and Emma. I thought I'd share them with you today.

Chaz is the eldest in the DARE Squad. He's an athlete, with a mischievous sense on humour and a love of wacky hair dyes.

Marco is their travelling brains. He's almost never separated from his beloved macbook. He's never seen without a hoodie either. Though quiet looking, he can be as naughty as Chaz at times.

Johanna, or Jo, is the beauty. She's a natural actress. She also loves to paint her nails. Woe betide the man or mission who smudges one of them. She and Chaz don't always get on.

Emma is the shy one. Normally she huddles away with her hair over her face. But when a mission calls, she shows her lion heart and turns in a new, more confident person.

So, that's what I'm working on now. What do you think of my story and characters? Do you have any suggestions? And also, the 'DARE' in DARE squad is hopefully going to be an acronym. Any suggestions as to what it can mean?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

To Write a Novel

I've always struggled with writing. Not the actual putting words on paper, but having the dedication to finish something, accepting bad work, that kind of thing. Even when I set myself a deadline, I've usually ignored it. That's why I've only ever finished one first draft.
When I joined NaNoWriMo I wondered whether I was crazy. I couldn't write 50' 000 words in a month. Everyone said it's a ridiculous goal. Even with a whole day to write in, I doubted I could do it.

Then NaNoWriMo started. With no plan, hardly any characters, I put fingers to keys and started to write. And I never looked back.

Because we count writing as school work, NaNoWriMo is virtually all we do in a day. With five people in the house doing NaNoWriMo we eat, sleep, and talk writing. It's so easy to write when you know everyone else is doing the same thing.

After every writing session we've shared word counts, plot problems and helped each other out of sticky holes. We;ve been encouraging each other. It's almost like having a personal support team.

With all this help, it's no wonder I shot ahead with my writing goal. I planned to have my story finish about 50' 000 words. And today I'm proud to say I've done it. After 10 days, I have a finished first draft of almost 52' 000 words.

Now, if you're doing NaNoWriMo and are still struggling along, I hope I'm not making you feel bad. Certainly I'm not trying to. I'm cheering everyone on. I've only finished this fast because I've had all day to write, and awesome people to talk my story over with.

I wish you all a finished draft, or 50' 000 words, or the completion of whatever goal you've set yourself by the end of November. I'm cheering for you all!

Now, off to think about another novel...Plus school work!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Third Brother

When I was five, my third brother was born. I already had two brothers, both older than me. But my third brother wasn't to live with us long. Thomas died the day after he was born.

I don't remember Thomas at all. I don't remember going to the hospital to see him. I don't remember the funeral. I don't remember everyone being so sad. I don't even remember getting a new pink dress for his funeral. I have no memories of him at all.

Despite not remembering him, he is still very special to us. We have a box of his things, a little dress with spots of his blood on it, his ear muff, photos from the hospital. We have his teddy bear collection, steadily growing each year. And we have his birthday.

Thomas's birthday is always the same. Every year we give him a candle, a bunch of flowers for the house, one for his grave, and teddy bear. Mum's room is full of these bears, each with their own name.

We always have a white cake. We always go and visit him in the cemetery. After all, how can you have a proper birthday without the birthday boy? Every year we take a photo with all the children standing behind his headstone. We always have a picnic sitting on the grass afterwards. It's family tradition.

Happy Birthday Thomas!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Knitting a Wedding

Charlotte and I debated over wedding present to give for a long time. Nothing normal would do for us. This was our first wedding in the family. The present had to be special to match. Which meant that we'd have to make it ourselves.

Out came the knitting books, the needles, the wool. We consulted patterns, surreptiously bought new wool and beads, and knitted like mad. No one else knew of our project. We never spoke of it. But every spare moment, we'd grab our needles and knit, knit, knit.

As the deadline drew closer and closer, I started to panic. Still so much to do. How would we ever finish in time? But we wouldn't give up. Not after so many weeks of solid knitting. We battled on.

Mum came into the secret only a couple of days before the wedding. She contributed a gold box and a reel of gold ribbon. But the present wasn't done yet! I went into overdrive, knitting faster than ever, finishing the final piece on the way to the wedding practice the day before the big event.
Wedding morning dawned, and Charlotte sewed the last pieces together. We put the present in the box, and wrapped it in gold ribbon. Done! And only just in time.

It wasn't until the reception that we actually gave the present. Felicity took our large gold box and attempted to undo the ribbon. Then she handed it to Graham to undo the ribbon. Uh oh, I'd done it up too tight. Stepping forwards I released the tight knot and stepped back again.

Felicity lifted off the lid, moved aside the tissue paper and...
"Oh they're lovely." She lifted out, piece by piece, a woollen replica of the wedding party. The professional photographer snapped photo after photo. Everyone oohed and aahed as they identified themselves.
Next time there's a wedding, I want to make another special present. But the things I've learnt from this? Always start months ahead, and never give up.

Friday, November 4, 2011

NaNoWriMo (Didn't) Eat My Hobbies

The Dawnbringer Dragon. My way of relaxing after a NaNo stint.

When I first thought about NaNoWriMo, I wondered how I'd ever get anything else done in November. Writing 50' 000 words takes a lot of time. Would I still have time to read, and do craft? Would I be able to continue blogging? Most of what I heard told me I couldn't.

Then I started NaNo. After pounding away at my computer keyboard for hours. I suddenly realised I didn't want to write any more that day. I wanted to do something else. And so I left my writing, which was well over the required word count, and amused myself by reading. And blogging.

Over the past three or four days, I've come to realise that NaNo hasn't eaten all my other activities. I'm still reading and drawing, doing craft and blogging. I want to do these things because I need a break from writing. NaNo, while time consuming and busy, is teaching me to enjoy my hobbies and free time more, because I need it more.

NaNo hasn't eaten my life. Thanks to a flexible homeschooling schedule, I can write during school time. Thanks to that, I have a million, billion words written. And I still have time to do the things I love. Far from doing less in November, I feel I'm doing more.

Has NaNoWriMo eaten your life? Or do you, like me, find yourself doing more, just to rest from all that frenzied writing?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

And So NaNoWriMo Begins

Yes, today is the very first day of NaNoWriMo, at least for us in Australia. Excitement fills our house as five people sit down to create masterpieces. Five people? Yes, today two more Elvises joined the ranks of NaNoers. Sophie and Gemma-Rose have made a sudden decision to join the Young Writers Program and do their own NaNoWriMo.
We're lucky that, as so many of us are doing NaNo, we're allowed to do it for school work. So in a morning's work, I've completed so much more writing than I ever would have done without it being classed as school work. I even have time to write a blog post!

Everyone's heads are filled with story plots. Round the lunch table we discussed Mum's story plot. Gemma-Rose is planning her mermaid story. Sophie chats enthusiastically about her girl's day at school. (Why is it that homeschool children like to write about school?). Charlotte pours out her ideas for her explosive fairy. And me? I've got no idea where my story is going yet. But, despite not knowing that, I have a story anyway.

There's something magical about sitting down to a new writing project, with only the barest idea as to what it's about. I was so scared that I would waste time working out how to start the story, that I mentally wrote my first line several days ago. But I shouldn't have worried. the story I don't know about is coming out my fingertips. All I have to do is put them onto the keys.

Yesterday, I was so impatient for NaNoWriMo to start, that I resorted to making a NaNoWriMo notebook to write all my crazy story notes in. I can see it filling up with things to remember. Names, occupations, hobbies, things I have to work in.

Now that NaNo is here, I'm so happy and full of ideas. and best of all, I've found that writing is good for headaches. So, to all those doing NaNoWriMo this year, I wish you easy writing and a massive word count. Now, back to my story!

For those people like me who are crazy enough to try NaNoWriMo, how are you going? Are your word counts sky-rocketing like mine? Or are you pulling out your hair as you try to make the words come?

For those not doing NaNoWriMo, what are you doing while we're all attempting this ridiculous goal? What do you think of those who are trying NaNo?