Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Redesigning and Blog Headers

As part of the organisation I wrote about earlier, I've changed the whole look of my blog. See, for some time I've been wanting to make a collage blog header, like the one Mum made. Except that she used Picnik, and that's gone now.

But the other day, we discovered PicMonkey, which is very nearly the same as Picnik, does collages like Picnik, and is perfect for making blog headers. And, on a side note, you can make collage facebook cover photos too.

So, I have a new header now. And, I've changed the background to match. If I were clever, I'd be able to work out how to make my own backgrounds. But I'm not that clever yet. Maybe in the future.

If you want to find out how to make a collage blog header, visit my Mum's post. And if you want to see how to make a collage facebook banner, see this post.

What do you think of my new header? And how do you think my newly designed blog looks? Are you one of those clever people who can make their own backgrounds?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012

Preparing for Writer's Camp

There's one week left until Camp NaNoWriMo starts. One more week to prepare plots, get to know characters, and steel myself for the mad dash of a month that's staring me in the face.

This is my first Camp NaNoWriMo, my second novel-in-a-month challenge, and the only time I've had sufficient time to actually plan any of my novel. In fact, I've had nearly a month of planning time, and surprisingly I've put it to fairly good use.

Because here's the thing. I'm not a big planner. I like to follow where the story leads when I write, mainly I think because I get lazy and planning's not as fun as actually getting in and writing. But I want a story I can revise and pull into some sort of shape, not one that needs several complete rewrites, and, as this month's novel is the first of a trilogy, I need to get things working right before August. Because in August, I write the second book in the series. So, I pulled out a battered old notebook and got to scribbling.

Normal planning methods, or what I think must be normal planning methods, never seem to work with me. I start out with a basic concept, but I can't plot straight from beginning to end. And so I ignored the plot, and worked on the easy bit, characters. Working out characters gave me scenes. And scenes soon led me towards a plot. A plot that actually seems to fit together well, for me at least. It's very basic, with no more than a sentence or two telling me what the plots points are, but this leaves me with plenty of creative elbow room. And it's the most complete plot I've ever come up with.

But the battered old notebook is filling up with other plot ideas too, not just things for the fantasy trilogy. Someone once said that creativity breeds creativity. Well, in my case, planning one book has led to finding another four or five prospective plots to work on. I've got ideas buzzing around my brain, and my pencil's getting worn to a stub from noting down ideas.

Maybe I'll just have to write faster during Camp NaNoWriMo and get a start on another novel. Only then, which to choose? Oh the problems of being a writer!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Blogging Days

Everywhere around the blogosphere I see people who have special 'days' on their blogs. One day might  be a Funny Picture Friday. Another might be a Worst Hairdo Wednesday. And on these days, they write on these certain subjects, like a theme day.

The idea of having certain days for posting on certain subjects is very interesting. By having a theme day, you'd never worry about what topic to write on, and your readers would know what days their favourite kinds of posts were posted on.

But then, what if you didn't want to post on that topic? What if you got to Worst Hairdo Wednesday and suddenly came up with a great post about that crazy paper mache model you made of your favourite book cover but you couldn't post it because it didn't fit with the theme of the day?

 So today I have a question for you: What do you think about having subject days on a blog, and, do you use them?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Camp NaNoWriMo Art

It has become a sort of tradition for me to draw themed art in the lead up to a NaNoWriMo event. I drew some NaNoWriMo art last November, and some Script Frenzy art this April. Now I've been doing some Camp NaNoWriMo themed art, almost as preparation for the coming event.

It being a virtual writer's camp, of course we must have some camp-like equipment, including torches and books for reading in the dark.

In this picture, I wanted a more campsite like feel. The basic make up of the pictures is very much like the official Camp NaNoWriMo web badge, but mine is more like a tent, and less like a book.

I wanted my third picture to continue the camping theme, but without the tents and moonlit night. And what says camping more than a pocket knife? And so I invented the Swiss Army Knife: Writer's Edition. Don't ask how the torch and coffee cup fold in. They just do.

So, those are the pictures I've got so far. I have no doubt I'll add to them as we draw closer to the actual event. I can hardly wait for it to start!

Is there anyone out there who has decided to take the challenge with me? Would anyone like to join my cabin? We have three empty beds if you'd like to join me at Camp NaNoWriMo.

What says 'camping' to you? Do you have any funny camping stories? Anyone coming on this virtual camp with me?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Changing Over

So, I finally gave in. I switched to the new look blogger. And I have to confess, I was very reluctant to do so. I liked the look of the old blogger, with it's colourful pages, and easy to find buttons. I liked how it was easy to find the settings page at a glance.

But for weeks a little sign had been starting me in the face. "The old blogger dashboard will be removed in coming months. Upgrade now."

Well, I did it. I hit that 'upgrade now' button. And at once I found myself lost in the new, white dashboard with it's multitude of drop down menus and sidebars.

Exploration only made me more confused. I was trying to look at my stats, so how did I end up in the settings? Where did I go now to change the design of my blog? Which button brought me to the 'new post' page? I struggled to figure it out.

Despite my struggles however, and my reluctance to like the new look, I have finally given in and admitted it. There are some good points to the new look and layout.

I like the white, fresh look it has, uncluttered and spacious. I love white space on my screen. I love how much easier it is to put pictures in my posts than it was before, and how I can change the size once the picture's on my screen. I like how you can see your stats without leaving the dashboard.

It's not easy for me, getting use to what amounts to a whole new site. But I'm  managing. And I'm finding that there truly are things to like. Now, if I could only stop getting lost in all the buttons and tabs...

Have you switched to the new Blogger? Do you prefer the old look or the new? What do you like best about the new Blogger look?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Shiny New Projects

There's something wonderful about a brand new project, whether it is writing, drawing or any other kind. In my case, it's a writing project, the novel I'm planning for Camp NaNoWriMo.

I can see it in my mind, every word perfect. The characters grow naturally and perfectly. They act like real people, with real emotions. The story will stay with readers long after they've closed the book. Everything is tinted with a golden glow.

That's how I imagine a new project.

Of course, I know that once I get into the writing, the characters will refuse to behave. They'll refuse to act properly, and they'll steer the plot off course. My writing won't do justice to the story in my mind, and I'll waffle, hunting for and missing the right words. The novel will become an almighty mess.

But, I still have that image in my mind, the goal I'll work for. And I'm excited to start writing, getting into the rocky regions of the first draft. Because I know, out the other side sits the perfect story, surrounded by it's golden glow, and that's what I'll work towards.

How do you feel when starting a new project of any kind, not just writing?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Organising the Blog

So, as you've probably noticed by now, I've done a little reorganising round the blog. There is now a lovely neat row of pages across the top of the blog, each one containing blog posts of different subjects. Also, the cloud of labels in my sidebar has shrunk.

The reason for this sudden burst of organisation started with the realisation that I've written over 150 posts. That's a lot of posts for people to wade through, looking for posts on a certain topic. Even my labels wouldn't help people very much.

It was time, I decided, to change that.

Fast forwards a few days, and, with much effort and labour I'd relabelled every single blog post to fit under certain headings. If you look in my sidebar, you'll see that the number of post labels has shrunk dramatically.

Also, a new row of pages had sprung up. There's now a page for my writing posts (page still waiting for me to add the rest of the posts), a page for my art and craft exploits, especially my doodles. There's a page for my blogging posts (anyone want to know how to make a blog button?). And there's a page for my adventures with the NaNoWriMo events.

The NaNoWriMo events page is the page on which I've written all the information about my experiences with those events. There's the projects I worked on, how many words I wrote, and the badges from each event. Plus there's links to the events if anyone wants to join me.

So, that's how my blog stands at the moment. I hope to add new pages soon, with the rest of my blog posts on them. I will definitely update the pages I've already got as I write new posts. And I'm fairly confident that soon people will be able to find all my posts with ease. Reorganising a blog is hard work, but it is worth it.

Have you had to reorganise your blog? Any pages you'd like to see on my blog? Any tips for reorganisation? I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Camp NaNoWriMo

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you'll already know that I love the NaNoWriMo events. I completed NaNoWriMo last November, and Script Frenzy this April. Now, a new event looms close on the horizon: Camp NaNoWriMo.

Camp NaNoWriMo has only been around since last year. It's exactly the same as NaNoWriMo, except that it takes place in June. Oh, and in August. Camp NaNoWriMo runs two sessions a year.

Well, as soon as I heard of this, I knew I just had to sign up. After last year's NaNoWriMo, I can't wait to race through 50,000 words again. I want to sit at my desk every spare minute, racing against the calendar. And this is novel writing. Much as I enjoyed Script Frenzy, I am a novel writer at heart.

So, I'm plotting a new story, washing my writing gloves and packing my bags for Camp NaNoWriMo. Anyone else care to join me?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Essay Disaster

Saturday evening. Two days before my essay was due. Sure the essay was fine. Hadn't I spent the whole week working on it? Dad'd probably point out where I'd started a sentence with 'However', chuck in a few 'that's and it'd be done. Ready to send.

Well, that's what I thought...

Dad looked up from the computer screen. "This essay's great, but it doesn't quite answer the topic. It's a discussion, not an exposition."

My heart sank. Not right? Didn't answer the topic? But I had one day! One day before it was due! I'd never manage it. And, as Dad explained my essay's shortcomings, I started to feel that this was the essay that would fail. I could never fix it so fast.

"It seems like so much work," I sighed when Dad had finished. "I don't know where to begin."

"Don't worry, I'll help you." Dad grabbed a handful of paper, his tablet pc and a pen and headed for the table.

The hours passed in a blur as we pieced together a new essay from the bones of my old one. Under Dad's explanations and our combined research, the essay was looking possible. By the time I headed off to bed, I had a plan, resources, and drive. And the essay looked more than possible. It was probable.

Sunday disappeared into my computer as I cut up my old essay and remade it, wondering all the while, would I finish it in time? Evening came, and Dad gave my essay one final read through.

"You've got it," he said finally.

I grinned, relief flooding through me. It was done, thanks to my genius Dad.

So, this was my blogging break. What have you done this past week?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Brief Blogging Break

I am 'waving' goodbye for now

Much as I love blogging, I am curently forced to take a brief break. If anyone has noticed the lack of posts over the last week or so, it is because I've been working on a couple of large university assignments. While one is finished, I am still hard at work writing the other, which means I haven't the time to write blog posts right now. So I'll say goodbye until next Monday, when I should hopefully be back. In the meantime, I'll still be floating around the blogosphere, just essay writing, not post writing.