Brace Yourselves: November is Coming

National Novel Writing Month believes in the transformational power of creativity. We provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page.

nanowrimo.org Mission Statement

As NaNoWriMo enters its 20th year (and I prepare for my 12th year of participation), it seemed the perfect time to dig a little deeper into what NaNoWriMo means not only for authors (a topic I’ve addressed fairly regularly), but also what it means for the people around them.

Without further ado:

Here Comes November

A Guide To The Care & Feeding of Your NaNoWriMo Author

What is NaNoWriMo?

According to the NaNoWriMo.org website:

“National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing.

On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.”

Why do authors do it?

Every author who participates has a different reason for becoming a WriMo. For some, it’s an exercise in discipline. For others, an excuse to shut out the real world in favor of creating their own. For some, like me, it’s a matter of proving to yourself that you can finish the draft.

How do authors approach the challenge?

There’s no single way to approach NaNoWriMo and nothing will ever work for everyone: but there are three basic classes of WriMo you should be familiar with:

Planner:

This is the type of author your Language Arts teacher says you’re supposed to be. Planners have detailed outlines, character sketches, and new languages and creatures already fleshed out long before November 1 comes around. They plan. They are prepared.

Pantser:

Pretty much the opposite of the Planner, a Pantser tends to look at a blank page the morning of November 1 and finally get around to deciding what to write. A pantser’s mind if full of half-baked ideas, numerous plot bunnies, and a couple killer one-liners that someone is going to use this year no matter what!

Plantser:

A newly identified class who, for many years, been confused by Planners as Pantsers and Pantsers as Planners. A Plantser typically greets November with an idea, maybe a few character sketches in skeletal format, and a collection of notes that roughly resmeble an outline.

Your Role As The Keeper of a WriMo

Regardless what class your WriMo falls into, there are certain things that you can do to help make November run just a little more smoothly.

Encourage

November can be overwhelming for your WriMo. Let’s face it: November’s not exactly a quiet month anyway. Tons of holidays are closing in, usually followed by family members & social events. Weather tends to be meh – either cold and gloomy, hot and miserable, or some other combination of factors that basically make you want to crawl into a hole and be left alone for a couple months. Adding the average daily wordcount of 1,667 to the mix is crazy-making.

And yet, WriMos do it… year after year.

There are many ways to encourage your WriMo and help them through the insanity that is November.

Take on additional chores so they don’t have to worry about them.

Screen social engagement requests to help maximize writing time.

Listen when they share their ideas. You are important enough for them to not write while they talk to you – make sure they realize they are equally important and that you appreciate the fact that you are THAT high on their list.

Nourish

Many WriMos, particularly when they are in the zone, forget to address their own basic needs. As the keeper of a WriMo, you should always take care to make sure your WriMo has adequate water in addition to any other beverage of choice they may ingest while working.

Make sure to feed your WriMo regularly, too. In most cases, you shouldn’t have to actually feed your WriMo but placing a meal or snack in easy reach will ensure they are able to maintain their strength without the danger of losing their momentum to go find and/or prepare something to eat.

Get Acquainted With Their Muse

Every WriMo has a muse and repeat WriMos tend to be familiar enough with their muse to be able to introduce you. Getting to know your WriMo’s muse may well be your single most important task as the keeper of a WriMo.

Just as every WriMo is different, every muse is different. Learning about your WriMo’s muse will prepare you to help your WriMo seduce the muse back to the story when she wanders.

To Be Continued…

It’s been a crazy couple months:
My mentor & dear friend retired from the DayJob in June and I have been going slightly mad (just very slightly mad) learning all the things I didn’t know about her job now that it’s my job.

New side projects. Plot bunnies running amok. Human sacrifice. Dogs & cats living together… wait. That’s not it.

Bear with me, folks. I’m still here… at least until November 😉

Until next time…

Take a minute to breathe… to remember… to love.
Smell the roses, pet the dogs, and hug the people who have a place in your heart.

Hmmm…

I promised a writing update, didn’t I?

In the midst of all the other craziness life has in store, I am pretty much always writing something.

My muse, in case you were unaware, is a tad bit mercurial.

She feeds on coffee, chocolate, and booze (and chili-cheese Fritos for fight scenes) and sometimes goes silent for extended periods of time. Those periods, however, seldom coincide with the times Real Life and the Day Job need me the most. Go figure.

Bonus: my self portrait from my photography class.

True to form – since I really have no time – she’s pounding on my skull with alarming variety and frequency. So, with all the changes to the Day Job, my college courses (yes, I am skipping summer vacation in favor of education), and the normal everyday stuff… she has me working on four different projects.

Yes.

Four.

So… maybe mercurial wasn’t a strong enough word 😉

One: Urban Wardens III

No, you didn’t miss Urban Wardens II. Editing is a slow process right now – can’t imagine why 😉 I had quite a bit of this one done but didn’t care for one of the subplots, so I had to go back and make some adjustments.

Two: The Bridesmaids Had Pockets

Not my normal sort of project, but one that’s turning out to be a lot of fun.

When I first started helping Eldest Spawn & The Boy plan their big day we had no time and less money to work with… so, with the insanity of it all still fresh in my mind (along with the Hold My Beer attitude fed by all the Plan Your Wedding in 6 Months for under $6K articles), I started a tongue-in-cheek how-to guide for wedding planning.

And yes, Eldest Spawn’s bridesmaids did, in fact, have pockets.

Three: Title Keeps Changing

Catchy, huh? Seriously, though… I’ve gone through a half dozen working titles and none of them actually work, so… hopefully I figure it out before the book’s done.

If you follow the Facebook page at all, excerpts from this one pop up on occasion: first-person, bad attitude, monster hunter. The one that parties with trolls.

Four: Untitled


This one is still very much in its infancy. It’s one of those projects where someone said something (commented on a photo, actually) and the muse wouldn’t shut up about it.

Here’s the picture.

There’s only a little groundwork on this one, so far, so I’m not going to give much here… but if you’re reading this, you’re probably a little familiar with my style so I’ll let you chew on the possibilities for a while.

There’s your update, friends. Pardon me while I go figure out how to mainline Black Silk.

Until next time:

Never give up. Never surrender.

No, seriously. Never give up.

Changing Seasons

Summer’s coming and the winds of change are actually pretty damned unpleasant this year.

The school year is ending for Youngest Spawn: she is preparing to venture forth on her first ever Music Tour.

For those unfamiliar with the practice, it is (for our school) a 5-day “family road trip” filled with musical performances, team building activities, educational side-trips, and some general fun.

This year’s trip, like everything else related to the Music Department this year, is a bitter-sweet finale to the year as it is the last such trip to be lead by the school’s much-loved music director.

There will be a new director: one who has a background with the unique entity that is our music program… and her selection as his successor brings comfort and hope that the Music Family will continue as the incredible force for good it has been since Eldest Spawn was first handed a recorder.

But wait, there’s more…

Music isn’t the only department saying goodbye at our Jr High/High School.

The lead Visual Art teacher is retiring at the end of this year. A fine, kind man who planted the seed of artistic expression in The Third, nurtured it while she was his student, and continued to nurture it even after she moved to a different school.

And… y’know… since that’s not enough… the Language Arts teacher who has kept the drama program alive is also retiring at the end of this year.

So – in case it’s not clear – our Jr High/High School is saying goodbye to its entire Fine Arts instructional staff.

As you may imagine, this is not a situation that brings me joy.

And… y’know… because being Mom isn’t enough…

Our facilities at the Day Job are being cut basically in half. My employment is not in jeopardy (parents, you can put the brakes on the panic) but the location of my desk is… well… pending.

Should I remain in my position, my desk will be moved elsewhere in the building upon completion of construction, remodeling, and reallocation of space.

But… (you knew there was one, didn’t you?)

My own beloved mentor/office manager/dear friend is retiring, too!

Should all the moving parts of our hiring process align (which is somewhere in the vicinity of if all goes according to plan), I will be taking her place.

I have done her job before (while she was away) and she has been actively training me to take over her position for a couple years. Our boss talks about me moving to that position as if he can circumvent the labyrinthine process by sheer force of will. Every member of our work unit believes I am the best person to step into that role.

But none of that changes the fact that she is retiring and, while I may indeed end up in her position, I can never take her place.

More about writing next time…

For now…

Thank you for helping pick me up after the winds of change knocked me over. As a very wise woman has told me often…

This, too, shall pass.

She’s ba-aa-aa-ack…

Unfortunately, my prediction from late February was accurate.

I had NO time for anything between my last post here and the wedding celebration.

But…

Mr & Mrs Asdell-Baize under the sword arch.
Eldest spawn and The Boy… now Mr & Mrs…

We pulled it all off and it was pretty damned amazing… if I do say so myself.

Now, after a couple weeks of down-time (or what passes for down-time in my life), it’s time to get back to doing all the rest of the things I do.

You know… four different writing projects, a couple college courses, the Day Job, the craft thing… but hey – at least I’m back.

Stay tuned, friends…

For Whom the Bell Tolls…

In case you haven’t heard, Eldest Spawn and her long-time partner in crime are going to go ahead and make it official.

The Boy proposed New Year’s 2018 – right after midnight – and they’ve been hemming and hawing about a date since then.

Now, with an impending 800 mile relocation, they decided it was best to tie the knot before they leave the homeland.

Being a fairly decent event planner, it’s ended up being my job – which is fine. It keeps the budget (super thin shoestring) in check and keeps other local wedding planners from having to deal with me as MotB.

Because seriously, friends… let’s face it… nobody wants to deal with me in full-blown, big budget, MotB mode. That’s a horror novel waiting to happen.

Sadly, this may mean I fall behind here. My plan is not to but my planning skills are being used elsewhere.

I promise not to forget you’re here and I won’t forget to write – trust me, I’m going to need the down-time.

Until next time, friends…

Celebrate love in the ways that fit your life.
The ones who love you won’t mind and the ones that do mind don’t matter.

Happy New Year!

It’s not too late to wish you all a Happy New Year, is it?

I mean…

At least we’re still in January, this year.

It’s a start. 🙂

Life continues at its apparently normal blinding speed, complete with crazy twists and turns that would make roller coaster designers nauseous.

But I am here.

I haven’t forgotten you.

And, Gods willing, I’ll have more to say next time around 🙂

Until then, friends, do what you do because it’s right, decent, and kind.
Just that. Just kind.

Black Friday

I wasn’t sure I’d get this post written with the craziness of NaNoWriMo coming to a close and all the cooking involved in our (not necessarily your) traditional Thanksgiving feast.

However, the NaNo spirits blessed me with completion late Wednesday afternoon which, as you might expect, made cooking yesterday a whole lot easier (and less of a mess for my poor abused little laptop).

Giving myself a few days then I’ll go back to the draft and start polishing it up.

I have a few non-writing projects that need my attention, a house that needs decorating, and a cold I need to kick before I have to go back to the Day Job on Monday, so I’m going to go ahead and leave this one short…

Until next time, friends:
Be thankful for what you have and what you have had…
And, above all, be thankful to the people you have and have had… because their love is worth more than any of the other stuff.

A Silent Stage and Sugar Skulls

Tom Petty
Robert Guillaume
Fats Domino

Three of many bright souls lost to this world just this month. Three entertainment giants slipping into legend.

Whether you like them or not, you can’t deny the fact that these three gents have achieved the status of legend. They defined and redefined their crafts and shared their souls with the rest of us on a regular basis.

Coping with the loss of legendary figures can be as difficult as coping with the those dear ones we were able to hold close in life. Bottom line – honestly – it sucks. A lot. And yet, we must continue.

The show must go on…

(And yes, before you crucify me, I know this world has lost much. In truth, this world is always losing much too much. I’m getting there – just be patient.)

My husband and I were shopping recently and I was ooh-ing and aah-ing over the sugar skull merchandise. I’ve always thought they were cool, but the last several years they’ve become a lot more important to me. I hadn’t really thought much about it until he asked why the intensity of my attraction to them had increased.

Those of you that know me (or have followed my ramblings here through the various incarnations of the website) know that I’ve lost a lot of people important to me: without rehashing everything (and dissolving into blob of uselessness), the increased attraction to sugar skulls coincides very neatly with the loss of several immortal figures in my life that felt like they occurred back-to-back.

Halloween, Samhain, Dia de los Muertos… no matter what’s on your calendar, it’s hard to ignore the fact that this time of year is the time for feeling those connections: for bridging the gap between this world and the next, even for just a moment.

That’s probably a long entry for another blog… you’re not here to get weepy, after all 🙂

Yes, NaNoWriMo is right around the corner.

No, I still don’t have any more of a plan than I did last time I told you about it. I may, in fact, have even less of a plan than I did then: as I was hit with a bolt of inspiration this morning that I might ride into November instead.

So, for the next four days, I will work feverishly to complete commissions for my craft business (oh yeah – did you know about that? Since I have so much free time and all… here’s what my hands do when they’re not typing) and figure out which project will consume November.

Until next time, my friends – hug your loved ones.
It’s much harder after they move on…

Nightmares, Torture, and Hellfire

It’s Friday the 13th, so embrace your inner scream queen, serial killer, or hellspawn – ’tis the season, after all 🙂

The world continues its journey through the apocalyptic opening credits of a dark future horror story. We watch society unravel in six-second clips, threaten, abuse, and then wonder why no one else is bothered by the obvious problem (whatever the hell that is).

But there’s nothing new, there…

Like horror movie marathons at Halloween, my annual exercise in sleep deprivation & self-torture looms on the horizon… that’s right: NaNoWriMo’s right around the corner. 50,000 words in the month of November: that’s only 1,667 a day – unless you look at the number of days I won’t be able to write due to cheer competition, feast preparation, etc.

I’m going back to my NaNo roots – heading into the challenge with only a vague idea and hoping that I can power through to create something enjoyable.

The last few years, NaNoWriMo has defeated me. A combination of factors lead to the disastrous failures of the past few years but many of those factors are (finally!) off the table this year.

The project is tentatively titled Hellbound and will tell a tale of a half-demon woman at the center of a power struggle between good and evil.

I’d give you more, but that’s all I’ve got at this point. Keep watch on the Facebook page once November starts, though – that’s where the cool lines and word count updates will be 🙂

Turning back to something a little less fun…

Here in California, sadly, Hellfire is a very real thing as I write. Some of the state’s most beautiful places are being devoured by fire with no relief in sight. I live in the foothills of Central California. I’m used to dealing with fire: hundreds of acres, dozens of structures, weeks to achieve containment: these are the fires I understand.

The Hellfire that’s sweeping through the northern part of the state, though, is a completely different beast.

There are 22 fires across 265 square miles (686 square kilometers, for those with metric brains) with no relief in sight.

At least 1,500 structures have been lost in Santa Rosa alone.  State Farm has received nearly 1,900 homeowner insurance claims and more than 700 auto insurance claims due to the firestorm. Entire towns have been evacuated. The town of Willits is all but cut off from the outside world.

At least 26 people are dead with hundreds still missing.

The sheer scope of the whole thing is terrifying, even for those of use that are, unfortunately, used to coping with fire.

And there we have it…

A beautifully disjointed collection of thoughts, just dismal enough to be worthy of a minor sociopath with a flair for the dramatic.

Just remember – on Friday the 13th and always – I’m not a psycho obsessed with demons, explosives, rebellion, or the types of damage certain weapons might have on the human body… regardless of what my search history might lead you to believe.

Until next time, friends, be kind. It helps.

Protests, protests, everywhere, and scarcely a moment to think…

Before I truly begin, I must apologize to those of you who are not US citizens and may, somehow, have been spared the lunacy currently overpowering this nation.


A little history… it took 100 years for “The Star Spangled Banner” to become anything official on a national level.

The US Navy adopted it in 1899 but it wasn’t until an Executive Order by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916 that it became almost official. President Wilson’s decree was that it was to be played at all military functions & ceremonies.

It took 15 more years (and a few failed attempts) before Congress finally decided to formally & officially recognize the song as the National Anthem of the United States. (In case you’re like me and don’t want to do the math, it was March of 1931.)

For the record, the National Football League had been established for a few years and officially became the NFL in 1922.

Fast forward to now – apparently ignoring all previous anthem-related protests because why bother with history, right? – and a good portion of the country is losing its collective mind over players choosing that particular tradition (and it’s just that – the only rules regarding playing the National Anthem at sporting events are imposed by the various leagues) as an opportunity to engage in peaceful protest.

I guess I just don’t understand…

If there’s something explicit in the players’ contracts about how they’re to observe the playing of the National Anthem, that’s a contract issue. End of story. The government doesn’t get to get involved in that. The POTUS doesn’t get to stand up on his very slippery soapbox and cry for a boycott.

Hell… the POTUS shouldn’t be doing that at all.

Remember what I said a few posts back about seeing the groundwork being laid for the hellish futures dystopian authors create?

Here we are again…

Shall I paint the picture for you?

I’d say “close your eyes,” but that would make it a tad difficult to read.

Clear your mind and imagine…


Following a devastating catastrophe, fearful rulers began stripping the citizenry of rights and freedoms under the guise of offering increased safety and security – and the citizenry followed, blinded by the fear of recent history repeating itself.

As time crept on, the same fearful rulers held firmly to their power and continued to strip the citizenry of its freedom and identity. Rather than look to the future, they dug in their heels and refused to move: providing a string of figureheads and phantoms to keep the citizenry from focusing on their growing monopoly over every aspect of life.

Some regions were worse than others: dictating how their populace was to believe in order to be accepted in what had come to pass for society. Those who did not embrace the politically established status quo were ostracized, slandered, and driven even deeper into hell.

When the citizenry, regardless of their origins, began to see the hell they were being herded toward, they began to fight back. It was small, at first. Mostly peaceful. It began to grow, and things became less peaceful: but the citizenry were fighting each other rather than the rulers that had driven them to their current state. And when those who had a measure of visibility, even celebrity, began to use that to further peaceful protest, the rulers’ current figurehead exploded with rage and demanded the rest of the citizenry to deny those few visible souls the right to be seen…


Sounds like a decent backstory summary for a world gone to shit.

But, enough with the politics.

I’m not quite over my flu and the nausea is really kicking in.

Until next time…