Writing

NaNo Prep

So, I have referenced before that I’m going to try NaNoWriMo. It will be a huge undertaking for sure, since I have school. School obviously comes first. I am going to give it my best shot though and if I don’t quite make it, that’s ok. I can keep writing past the end of November. I have been prepping as much as I can do that hopefully, come November 1, all I have to do is write. So how am I getting ready for this undertaking?

First is character outlines. I’ve been working on making sure I know what I need to about each character and really thinking about their pasts. I have been known to just write without thinking about character backgrounds and it slows me down a lot. I end up having to go back and double check facts. I can write without backgrounds but it takes a lot longer.

Second is a complete story outline. I usually like to write what I feel and if I had lots of time to write, I might try to write like I usually do. Problem is that I don’t have as much time as I’d like, so I am trying to get a thorough outline. That way I know what each chapter needs to be. I can still write whatever chapter I feel like but at least I know what needs to happen in that chapter and I can always edit for flow later.

Third is my way to feel more confident when I write and that’s to watch you tube videos. There are lots of videos about writing and I watch what seems relevant and absorb as much as I can. Hopefully, I’ll remember enough to make use of it and it’ll make my writing better.

There’s my plan. I’m going to give this a good try and hope that I end up with a rough draft. Then I can edit and hopefully there will be a book some day. If you’re going to NaNo, I hope that you’re excited and getting ready!

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Books, Geekiness, Writing

Ultimate Harry Potter Tag

I am a bit of a geek. If I’m honest, I’m totally a geek. Harry Potter is one of my loves, so for your amusement (and mine), here are some of my best and worsts from the world of Harry.
1. Favorite book: My favorite book is definitely Prisoner of Azkaban. It’s the first time that we don’t deal with Voldemort plus, we learn a lot about how Harry’s parents die. Plus we’re introduced to Lupin, who is an awesome character and Sirius, who is definitely a complex character.

2. Least favorite book: My least favorite book is probably Chamber of Secrets. I don’t like Lockhart as a character. He seems very flat to me. He’s not really nice and he works as a villain of sorts but he seems like an annoying side plot.

  1. Favorite movie: My favorite movie is The Half Blood Prince. I feel like that movie does a good job bringing us to the last two movies and the end of the story. I also love that the story focuses on Snape and Draco and how the two are intertwined. I also love that Ron and Hermione spend the whole movie questioning Harry (doubting him) and Harry ends up being right. And that Harry loves that book and later finds out that it was Snape’s.
  2. Least favorite movie: I’m going to say Deathly Hallows part 2 because it was the end.
  3. Favorite quote: “We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” I think that this quote tells us so much about Sirius’ character and it really speaks to one of the themes of Rowling’s story. It’s all about the choices that we make. No person is truly all bad or all good.
  4. Favorite Weasley: Ginny because she is at least as strong of a female character as Hermione is but she is strong in different ways. Or rather she shows that strength differently. Ginny isn’t afraid to be who she is and she is able to stand up to her brothers.
  5. Favorite female character: Minerva McGonagall. She is the most amazing character and then her being played by Maggie Smith.
  6. Favorite villain: Delores Umbridge. That woman is at least as evil as Bellatrix but she is not seen that way initially. It’s not until at least part way through Order of the Phoenix that you truly realize how awful this woman really is.
  7. Favorite male character: Sirius Black. Sirius is such a multidimensional character. He has so many flaws but at the same time he means well. He’s the type of character that you could know in real life. For all of Sirius’ flaws he truly loves Harry as a son even though he has moments where he doesn’t seem to know if he’s looking at Harry or James.

10.Favorite professor: Flitwick because I’d love to take Charms.

  1. Would you rather A)wash Snape’s hair or B)spend a day listening to Lockhart rant about himself? Probably wash Snape’s hair because I don’t know that I could listen to Lockhart for any length of time without wanting to off myself.
  2. Would you rather duel A) an elated Bellatrix or B) an angry Molly? Uhm, is there really a difference here? Either one would be a formidable opponent. I guess an elated Bellatrix. She’s more likely to make mistakes.
  3. Would you rather travel to Hogwarts via A) Hogwarts Express or B) flying car? Hogwart’s Express, obviously. Who wouldn’t want to ride on that train and get sweets off the trolley?
  4. Would you rather A) kiss Voldemort or B) give Umbridge a bubble bath? Well, if you kissed Woldemort you’d probably be killed so I’ll take my chances with Umbridge and the bubble bath.
  5. Would you rather A) ride a Hippogriff or B) ride a firebolt? I think a broomstick would be fun to try, so the firebolt.
  6. Is there a character you felt differently about in the movies? No. I thought that was one of the things that was done really well on screen was the characters and the actors they chose and how they were portrayed. All excellent.
  7. Is there a movie you preferred to the book? I think that Chamber of Secrets is better on screen than it is as a book. Of course, it doesn’t follow the book too closely so that may be why.
  8. Richard Harris or Michael Gambon as Dumbledore? I preferred Richard Harris. It was very hard for me to see the switch after Harris died.
  9. Your top thing (person or event) that wasn’t in the movie that you wanted there the most? I can’t think of anything that wasn’t there that I really wanted to see.
  10. If you could remake any of the Harry Potter movies which would it be? Possibly Prisoner of Azkaban. I wish it was closer to the actual book.

21.Which house was your first gut feeling you’d be a part of? Ravenclaw. It was actually very close. I think I would be a hat stall…

  1. Which house were you actually sorted into on Pottermore? Hufflepuff (Puffs for life!)
  2. Which class would be your favorite? Charms. I love the idea of being able to modify everyday things. Transfiguration would probably be a close second.
  3. Which spell do you think would be the most useful to learn? Accio? Or possibly some of Molly’s cleaning spells.
  4. Which character do you think you’d instantly become friends with? Hermione or Luna.
  5. If you could own one of the three Hallows, which would it be? The cloak. I wouldn’t want the wand because to many other people want it and you’d be killed over it. The stone is just sad.
  6. Is there any aspect of the books you’d want to change? Nope. They are amazing exactly as they are.
  7. Favorite Marauder? James. I have a lot of curiosity about James as a child and how he changed as he grew up. He is clearly a person who had strong morals but I wonder what happened to him from the ages of 11 to 17 that completely changed how he behaved. I think that James was one of those people who was truly good at heart and may have made some bad choices. I also think that he regretted those choices later on.
  8. If you could bring one character back to life, which would it be? Fred Weasley. I think separating the twins is simply cruel.
  9. Hallows or Horcruxes? Hallows.
Writing

A little oops…

So, I messed up. I was supposed to post three times last week and failed. I posted once. I wasn’t feeling so hot most of last week. I will make up for it today, however. I present you with a short story, written by me. It’s not great but it’s not horrible. Feel free to critique at will. Just please don’t be nasty. Also, it is mine. Don’t take it and use it for your own or anything.

An Eternity

The rain hit the window and was producing a slightly depressing state. The grey sky reflected her feelings as she stared out. She sighed and glanced around the room. Books covered every flat surface of the tiny apartment. A careful observer would notice that they all had one thing in common. Vampires. Twilight, Dracula, Fifty Shades of Grey, Lilith, Salem’s Lot, Interview with a Vampire. She had found and read nearly every book that she could find. She had movies of all the same titles strewn about the couch. She had looked up every last legend that she could find online.

When she first met Alex, she had thought that he was amazing. He was a true gentleman. He opened doors for her, held her hand, brought flowers, everything that you could possibly think of that you could want in a boyfriend. True, he was a bit old fashioned and seemed to think that technology was pointless but that just made him more endearing to her. It wasn’t until he started to ask her about her thoughts on supernatural creatures that she began to think something was odd.

At first the questions were typical. Did she enjoy werewolf movies? What about vampire movies? Did she believe in ghosts? She had started to think that Alex must be some kind of crazy ghost hunter. She started to research him. Everybody has an online presence, right? Not Alex. In fact, the only references she could find to any Alexander Drioux were scattered and not of this century. There was mention of one from 1622 and another that appeared in 1836 but both of those men were living in France. She managed to find another Alex Drioux in Canada in 1911 but again, that couldn’t possibly be him.

Then she found the picture. It was an old picture that appeared on a website of notable French families from the 1800’s. Next to a very pretty young girl was a man who looked exactly like her Alex. The caption for the picture had the man listed as A.L. Drioux, a family friend. The girl in the picture vanished several years after it was taken and was never heard from again. A.L. Drioux also vanished. That was when she started to wonder. Alex had near perfect French and had told her he grew up there and moved to Canada for college, eventually coming to the United States to experience New Orleans. That’s where she had met him, just three months ago. Alex never needed money. His parents had left him a trust fund, he explained. They had died when he was only ten. He had no siblings and his parents had been only children. All of his grandparents were also deceased. Alex was alone in the world.

He loved her name, he had told her. Charlotte was such a regal name. He had laughed when she told him everyone called her Lotte.

“May I call you Lotte? Just like in the Phantom of the Opera, perhaps?” His voice had that vague accent that made his words seem to run together.

After discovering the picture, she asked him about it. He had chuckled. It must be some old ancestor.

“Perhaps you could do my family tree for me some day, Lotte? Maybe I have a coat of arms someplace that you could find.”

She had giggled but it hid unease. Something was off, not quite right. That was when she had started digging into vampires. For two weeks she had not spoken to Alex but she had dug through books and movies, scoured the internet trying to find every piece of information that she could. Finally, yesterday she had called him and asked him to come over. She was beginning to think she was crazy but she had to ask him.

The knock on her door brought her out of her reverie. She walked across the room and peered out the peephole to see him there, looking composed, as always. She opened the door and smiled at him.

“Lotte,” he said, smiling at her, “I had begun to think that you were not interested in me any more. I missed you.”

Alex went to come in, like he usually did but she stopped him. He couldn’t see the mess within and she knew as soon as he saw it, she would have her answer. Her hand rested on his chest for a moment as she leaned upward and kissed him gently. He smiled back at her. Then she stepped back and let him in.

Alex looked around the room and his eyebrows went up in surprise. He walked quietly over to the table and picked up a book.

“Dracula? I had no idea you were so interested in vampires.”

“It was research,” replied Lotte quietly. She reached into the folder sitting on the table and pulled out the pictures she had found. He had seen them before but he seemed to see them in a new light.

“I see. You think that is me?”

Lotte nodded. She was hardly breathing. “Is it?”

Alex looked at her carefully, as though thinking about what to say next.

“If I said that it was, would you believe me?”

Lotte nodded.

“If I said that it wasn’t, would you believe me?”

Lotte nodded again. “I just want to know the truth Alex.”

“What do you want to hear?” he asked her. “Do you wish to be spirited off by some vampire like in those silly stories?” He pointed toward the copy of Twilight sitting on the table.

Lotte thought it was interesting that he never raised his voice or sounded annoyed. He merely asked her as though he found her amusing. For the first time, Lotte found herself somewhat frightened. Alex took a step toward her and she instinctively stepped back, as though she anticipated a monster being there.

Alex sighed and took a step back.

“Goodbye Lotte.”

Alex turned and walked out of the room, quietly shutting the door behind him as he left. Lotte stood there and stared as he left, wondering. He had never answered her question.

Alex walked down the flight of stairs back out into the rainy day. He pulled the hood of the rain jacket he wore up. He started down the sidewalk feeling let down. Another girl who he had thought could love him, gone. He continued down the sidewalk until he came to a small café. He stepped inside and ordered a coffee and beignets. Coming to New Orleans had been a brilliant decision on his part. The food was fantastic. The waitress brought him his order and he sat in the chair and pondered. He took a sip of the coffee and pulled a small notebook out of his bag. A black and white picture fell out of the front. It was the same picture Lotte had found. It had been taken in 1855. Alex had loved Marie. Then she had begun to suspect that he was not who he claimed to be and eventually she left him for a gentleman that her parents picked out. Alex turned to the back of the notebook and crossed out Lotte’s name and phone number. Perhaps next time, the girl would not think he was a monster. In four hundred years he still had not found a girl who would love him for who he was. He would not give up though. After all, he had an eternity to find her.

Books, Writing

On writing and reading

As I have worked on my writing these past few weeks, I have discovered something interesting. I have always been the type of writer who wrote as I went. Now, I’ve never been a terribly great writer when it comes to things like fiction but I could bang out a paper, have it be well researched and get a good grade. Many an English teacher has touted the importance of outlining before you write. I always scoffed at this because I could write papers fairly quickly and very well without an outline. Not a written one anyway. I’d have a vague idea of what I wanted to do in my head. Sometimes it changed course as I wrote but generally it worked well. I have always tackled fiction in much the same way and it’s readable but I usually had trouble getting things to coalesce. Then I started to write down an outline.

Oh. whoa. Suddenly I can see why people talk about outlines as being such important things. I could write a lot more effectively with an outline in place than I could without one. Even though I knew where I wanted my story to go. Even though I have characters in my head. This worked so much better. I will admit that it took a little time. In fact, putting one in place retroactively may cause it to be more time consuming because I have to go back and fix things but it helps a lot. So, I will admit defeat. Outlines are useful things and I can probably see a use for them writing regular papers too, if only to get an idea of where the paper is going before I start writing so I don’t have to rewrite my thesis a dozen times. It means that some of what I write earlier requires some edits but that’s ok. I don’t mind editing. As long as I’m not looking for grammatical errors. That is still a bane of mine.

I still haven’t done my bullet journal post. I keep meaning to and then something else comes up. Like finishing another book or needing to do dishes or going for a run. So it’s still on the list. I’m hoping to be able to use the new layout I have as a more effective tool for watching what I eat, studying, working out and writing. We’ll see how well it goes since Tuesday has me back in classes and with little time to breathe. Also, work, so my whole weekend is pretty much consumed too. Although the last few weeks have been strange with me ending up on the floor a lot. I don’t mind being on the floor. It’s just unanticipated, especially given it’s been more than a month like this.

As a brief aside, I like reading books that nobody else is reading. It makes getting said book from the library much easier. I had wanted to start rereading Outlander because I got halfway through the fourth book and then put it down and never pick dit back up. Now I’ve forgotten a lot of plot points and I feel like instead of picking up book 4 and starting there, I need to go back to the beginning. However, getting ahold of the book is nearly impossible. I’ve had it marked as to hold at the library for weeks. I can only imagine there are a million people in front of me wanting the book. So, you know I may or may not get to that anytime soon. I still have other things to read. It’s just annoying that everybody wants to read it all of a sudden. Honestly, more people need to pursue libraries and bookstores. There are lots of good stories out there but apparently if it’s not on tv, it’s not worth reading which is so silly.

So that’s it. Attempts are being made at lots of things. I still don’t have a post schedule. I really need one. Like seriously. I’m working on it, I swear!

Books, Fitness, Healthy Eating, Running, Writing

It might be a miracle

It’s been several months since I began running again in earnest. It does a soul good to be able to pummel the ground repeatedly with your feet. Unfortunately, I live in an oven. Or at least that’s what it feels like from (usually) May until September. That’s almost half the year if you’re keeping track. And generally it isn’t the heat that is the true problem here. It’s the 90% humidity that accompanies it. That can make breathing hard when you aren’t doing anything. Then put exertion in the mix and you have a recipe for crawling rather than running.

Our weather this year has been odd. It hasn’t been as hot as it usually is and it didn’t warm up until much later than usual. So you can imagine my surprise when I went running Sunday and did three miles with all negative splits. I’ve never run all negative splits, since I started running years ago. I could get the second mile negative but then the third would be a disaster or the second mile would be awful and the third would be better (but not better than the first). Now part of this is a poor ability to pace on my part, which I’ve been working on. But part of it is the horrible heat.

When the weather is cooler out, I can typically run about even splits, a second or two over or under for each mile. Sunday was remarkable because the second mile was almost third second faster and my third was a few second faster yet. It wasn’t a ten minute pace (it was around 10:30) but it was a vast improvement over the 11:00 to 11:30 that I’ve been running. I have no idea what I did differently and could not replicate it today. I’ll keep working at it though.

I have also made efforts to get my food healthy again. I was lax during the last few weeks of school due to stress, so I wasn’t eating as much and some of it was not the best choices (there was a lot of pizza… pizza is my kryptonite). So I’ve really put effort into ensuring that I’m eating a good breakfast and getting lots of fruits and vegetables in, especially while they are really good. I was good about not resorting to eating out all the time. So while my choices weren’t the best choices at home, they were at least choices that I largely controlled the portions and sides for. Small victories, right?

As a brief aside, I will also add that I am working on two more books currently, as I move forward on my day zero project. I have also started a book with a full complement of characters, a brief outline and somewhere around 12,000 words. This is progress and hopefully it will continue. I have research notes and may actually get a notebook to keep details in so that I don’t have to keep flipping to different computer files (it’s easier sometimes to have paper!). I haven’t decided yet what to do with the book once it’s finished. First I have to finish it but I can say with confidence that this one is the most likely yet to actually reach a point where it would be complete. Of course, I’d also need an editor because I am bad with grammar and can make mistakes that are very amateur. A person with good editing skills would need to look over this thing before I even contemplated publishing it.

See what I can accomplish when I have time off?

Books, Writing

About writing

I can get attached to fictional characters. This probably sounds pretty silly to most people but it has always been true for me. I have been reading since I was very small and often those books were a place of refuge for me, letting me go to places that I couldn’t actually go to and meet people who might have been friends. Since I have always had a fairly creative imagination, I would think about what might happen to those characters after their book ended. Eventually, I discovered tv shows that engrossed me as much as my books and I would find myself contemplating what happened to those characters as well.

Somehow, I never thought about creating my own characters until I was much older. As much as I loved books and to write I never felt as though I was a writer. That was a purview for other people who were better at it than I was. In fact, throughout most of school I felt as though I simply wasn’t good enough at anything for it to be important or valuable. That’s how I ended up graduating from college long after I should have with absolutely no direction. I was lost. Mostly within my books because at least those people were nice to me. Which makes it sound like I had no friends which isn’t true. But often I felt misunderstood and like a background character. I had issues.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more attached to characters because I can see so clearly who they are. I have television shows that I’ve watched now for so long that I know everything about those characters (two shows come to mind, NCIS and Criminal Minds) because I am invested in those characters. That happens when you watch a show for more than a decade, I guess. There are also books that I’ve gotten invested in, where I know those characters and love them. This to me, is very different from being a fan of a director or tv show. As an example, I am a huge fan of Kevin Smith. I’ve seen all of his movies. Some of them were not great but I still love him as a director. I am not invested in those characters though. I mean, I can tell you a little about the characters but I’m not invested in them. NCIS – that I am invested in. I have cried over that show (like when Ziva was killed or when Tony met his daughter). I feel as though I know the personalities of those characters and could write stories that involve them.

I mentioned yesterday that I was using fan fiction as a way to work on my prose. Mostly what I mean, is taking those characters and trying to learn how to be invested in them. Sometimes when I work on writing stories of my own, I have issues with keeping an interest in the characters, which shouldn’t happen since they’re my creations. So I’m working on finding ways to learn more about the characters when they seem to be at their worst. Fan fiction is letting me do that without creating a world for those characters because that world already exists. I’m just playing with it. I feel as though it may be working. I have written more in this particular fan fiction piece than I have in anything else. I don’t know that I have the character personalities down yet but I’m making progress. I’m trying to use their voices and speak as they would. Again, work in progress. But there is progress, so that’s good.

As a side note, I have almost completed one of my day zero goals: complete a 30 miles challenge. If you’re unfamiliar, the goal is to run 30 miles in one month. For a lot of people, this is probably a monthly accomplishment. I don’t think I’ve ever done it… maybe once when I was doing half marathon training but that would be five years ago now, so I’m not counting it. I’ve got about five miles to go for July and it’ll be done. I’ll actually run more than 30 miles but I’m good with that. It means I’m back on track. I took time off last week and only ran once so I thought I wouldn’t reach my goal but I have 6 days, so it should be doable. That would be my first official goal crossed off the list. Of course, I still don’t have 101 things on the list but I’ll add some more eventually. I’ve still got 2 years and 11 months.

Books, Life, Nursing School, Writing

School’s out for summer

This is officially, the beginning of ten days of vacation for me. I started my job just over a year ago and since then, I have worked every weekend and have been in school almost every week. So as of now, I am working on several things all at once. We shall see how successful I end up being.

First and foremost, I worked on cleaning today. That’s not to say that I haven’t cleaned in over a year but aside from little daily tasks like sweeping and dishes, lots of things get neglected day to day. So I scrubbed a bathroom today (1 of 2), took out some garbage and folded the laundry that had piled up. I have one basket still left to do but I thought I’d sit down and write first.

Speaking of writing, I have been practicing my writing. What I mean by that is I have been writing fan fiction (nobody needs to read that though cause honestly, it’s fan fiction). This seems like a silly way to practice but it really allows me to focus on things like prose and point of view without having to think about characters and backstory because none of that is mine. I have started a new story in my head but it’s in the very early stages of thought. Sooner or later, one of these stories will stick and I’ll actually finish one. I have so many bits and pieces that don’t go together, it’s kind of funny. Creativity is fickle like that, I guess.

I spent time working on my bullet journal. Not a lot of time, mind you but some. I got August going and while I have a few spreads to still work on I could put next week in if I didn’t get any further. I am still seeing how this new weekly spread works for me. It’s a little wishy-washy right now. That’s probably a result of my not being sure how to best use the space which happens when I try a new way setting up. That’s ok though. This spread may work a little better, in terms of functionality.

July is almost over. I’m not quite sure how that happened. I suppose the fact that I was in school for the first half of the summer explains it. I have started filling in my day zero project list but at this point it’s mostly books that I’ve read or planning for bigger things. I have been considering a few of my photo projects that are on the list. I will update that tomorrow. For now, I’m going to put away the rest of the laundry and then watch another episode of NCIS (because I’m watching last season and I’m LOVING IT!!!). See you in the am!