My (Not-So-)Secret Weapons For Surviving NaNoWriMo

So, confession time. It’s Monday, which means I post here (usually). I had an idea for a grand POST TO END ALL POSTS about NaNo and surviving and EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW, IN ONE HANDY POST. Unfortunately, I’ve neither written it, nor have I taken my own advice and gotten prepared for NaNo yet, PLUS I realized that most of my tips are… well… in previous posts?

Therefore! I will mention a handful of new things I’ve discovered that help, and then leave you to peruse my previous NaNo posts (linked at end) for further tips, if you’re so interested.

Because we’re a half a month away from NaNo (WHAAT???) and I’ll be honest: I’m not ready.

I’m so, so not ready.

I need to go spend my time prepping for NaNo, plotting my novel, and trying to conquer my several-miles-long to-do-list. IN TWO WEEKS, MIGHT I ADD. *tries not to collapse and curl up and hide behind a tapestry* Rehashing all the stuff I’ve said about NaNo in previous posts is, sadly, not going to help with that. XD

ANYWAY! Behold, a few of my recently discovered (since my previous posts) not-so-secret weapons for conquering NaNo!

Tools in My NaNo Toolkit

Time

(pinterest)

Time is your enemy during NaNo (TICKING DOWN TO THE END NOOOO) but it can also be your friend.

How?

Well, I’m a long-time advocate of wordwarring (with friends, and with oneself on a timer), but also: during this last Camp NaNo, I discovered the magic of setting a timer for an hour and focusing on writing just for that time. Can take a break afterward, but focusing NOW. Just for an hour.

I can usually write 1K in an hour, which means (theoretically; hear my story laughing at me. XD) it should be a couple of hours per day, yes? *cough*Leavemetomydelusions.*cough*

Make time your ally: use it with timers and word-sprints and chunks of writing time for focusing.

Make it work FOR you.

Scrivener

Screenshots for this year (below, top) and last year’s NaNo (below, bottom)

SCRIVENER IS MAGIC, OKAY. I used it last year and it. was. amazing. I hate buying software and stuff because I’m cheap and like free things, but I tried it free for a month during NaNo last year and loved it so much I got it (half-off with a NaNo coupon).

The plotting and organizing features give me life, and having a word-count goal set on each individual chapter/section/day was SO helpful — and the fluidity of being able to merge or separate them at will was amazing. I also utilized the full-screen writing mode to lessen distractions, and loved to make it a slightly-smaller window to write in, with a small window of my browser open in another part of the screen, showing the counting-down wordsprint tool on the NaNo site. 😀 SO motivational!

All the planning

This one is both old and new. I’m keeping notes in a dedicated-journal just for this project, which is helpful/inspiring. The journal and the scrivener are the new things, but planning is SUPER IMPORTANT. Unless you’re a pantser, in which case I salute your bravery. I reeeally need to do a braindump scribbling-down of all my ideas (so many scenes and things in my head!) and then organize those and make an outline… But anyhow. Plot plot plot!

Bullet Journal to stay organized

Please note, I keep an “ugly” bullet-journal, which is to say, I don’t make mine a work of art and I don’t actually “journal” much (like talk about what I did; I just mark stuff off).

It’s like a daily/weekly/monthly/planner thing which I use with bullet-points of to-do-lists and things going on, and I usually plan it out a week or a month in advance.

I’ve done stuff like this before, but this is the first time I’ve had an actual bjournal (my abbreviation) to do it with.

I have a page or two of to-do lists for October, and will have one for November. I have a page for a to-do list for each week. And I have a page for every day, with info at the top about stuff going on, and a to-do list. Also daily trackers in a list on one page for keeping track of stuff I should do every day and don’t want to rewrite over and over, and a calendar list so I can keep track of what’s going on.

It doesn’t have to be fancy (in fact, please don’t try!) but both for pre-NaNo-prep, and for NaNo itself, it’s very handy to keep track of stuff!

NaNo runs at an insane pace, and I’m seriously going to need this in order to keep life/writing/ML-ing straight. Not to mention daily wordcount goals listed each day… 😉

Draft Zero

Last but not least: Draft Zero.

I SERIOUSLY need to do a post about this, but it’s basically getting the story down in its most basic form. It’s a mix of extreme plotting (but super vague too? It’s hard to explain) and very rough first-draft. It kind of bridges drafting and outlining so that I can Howl* myself into writing without actually writing, and then it’s easy to expand into a real first-draft.

I have so far only done this in segments — like a scene or chapter at a time (often out of order) and then expand it. I used it especially for the ending of my short story Darkling Reflections (actually the last third of it) and my novella The Rose and the Raven. Super helpful.

I WILL post about it someday, but basically don’t worry about spelling/punctuation/sentences; just write down what happens in brief bullet-point order (dialog included!) and throw in descriptions/whatever, whenever you feel like it. Basically give yourself permission to make a mess on the page.

I may try to do this for NaNo, or I may just do it each day as my outline-plotting before turning each chapter into a first-draft chapter day by day. Not sure yet. Either way, it’s my biggest secret weapon, and with it in my toolkit, NaNo-doubt doesn’t have a chance. 😉

*Apologies for those who don’t understand this Howl’s Moving Castle reference. It derives from a quote Howl said about being a coward — and the only way he can trick himself into doing things is pretending he’s NOT doing them. I’m very Howl-ish and am a slitherer-outer. XD

***

And there you have my 5 new tips. Thank goodness I only did five because otherwise this post would be enormous. XD

I hope these tips (and the ones below) help you. But you know what? Even if you don’t have tools or secret weapons, even if you’re not prepared for NaNo… you can still do this. If you have a story you want to tell, then that is all you need.

All you REALLY need is to show up each day in November at the screen (or pen/paper) and look in your heart and write.

You’ve got this, writer! I believe in you! Now get out there and conquer this NaNo. 🙂

Check out more tips below. ^_^ THANKS FOR READING, AND GOOD LUCK! ❤

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(click images to visit posts)

Beautiful Books: The Siren and the Skyship (NaNo 2017)

It’s almost NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, dontcha know), so that means it’s time foooor…

Beautiful Books!

Yes indeed, Sky and Cait have thoughtfully put together a questionnaire to fill out regarding our NaNo novels! (Or any kind of novel, really.) So check out the linkup and join in if you like, and read on for a look at the novel I’m planning to write this November! 🙂

1. What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

I’m not sure exactly what sparked the idea… it just sort of happened.

June 26, 2015: I wrote in my then-writer’s-journal (I keep a new one every year) about a steampunk fantasy Little Mermaid story with the roles switched (mer character a guy, prince character a princess/skyship-captain). The title arrived a couple weeks later, and a week or two after that, I met the side character whose subplot tied everything together, along with an explosion of other characters and details, turning into a novel I was dying to write.

It’s expanded somewhat since then, but the main story idea is all from June-July two years ago, and I’ve been excited to write it ever since!

2. Describe what your novel is about!

I don’t mind if I do! It’s a YA Steampunk-Fantasy retelling of The Little Mermaid… ish.

Here, have a burb. *tosses summary at you*

The Siren and the Skyship

by Deborah O’Carroll

(NaNo 2017 Novel)

It’s just another mission on a voyage through the clouds for Her Royal Highness Princess Tasmania Peckham-Archley, Captain of the HRSS Star-Dreamer. Until she is saved from a fall from her skyship by an unseen rescuer, and an odd young man comes into her life with sky-blue eyes and cloud-white hair.

Auren never chose to be a cloud-siren prince; he would rather steer a skyship alongside the young woman he loves—who happens to be a princess and a captain. But to become human he must make a trade. Who needs a voice, anyway?

All Rook wanted was to serve in the skynavy, but everything he holds dear is taken from him. Fighting to forge a new life for himself, he carries the most dangerous secret of all—one the Sorcerer of the Mist will be happy to take off his hands.

When assassins strike close to home and send Princess Tasmania’s world spiraling into disarray, she will need all her friends at her side to face cloud-city ambassadors, spies, more assassins, sky pirates, the Sorcerer of the Mist (who keeps collecting things that don’t belong to him), and oh—maybe a little love.

These cloud voyages may turn out more interesting than the Star-Dreamer’s crew anticipated.

3. What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

Clouds. Skyships. Steampunk. Tea. Love.

(All images from Pinterest and belong to their respective owners)

4. Introduce us to each of your characters!

(All images from Pinterest and belong to their respective owners)

Meet Princess Tasmania, captain of the skyship Star-Dreamer; Auren, the invisible/insubstantial wind-spirit-type Cloud Siren who wants to be human (okay, so he will be very early on…); and Rook, the former skynavyman whose father was a skyship admiral and whose mother was the daughter of a pirate king and an assassin.

Rook keeps threatening to steal the show because he’s awesome, but I keep trying to remind him that this is a LITTLE MERMAID RETELLING and he’s neither main character from that story. (Tasmania and Auren are awesome too, but, well… Rook…)

Anyway, consequently, I don’t know who’s the real MC, so I’m currently calling all three of them Main Characters and letting them fight it out. We’ll see what happens. XD

(All images from Pinterest and belong to their respective owners)

Other characters include: Noya (Tasmania’s best friend/right-hand gal), Xasper (a street-thief-turned-cabin-boy who may or may not be WHOOPS SPOILERS), an assassin lady, a couple of cool pirates (and some scary ones), various quirky/eccentric/epic crew-members on Tasmania’s ship, several villains, and Tasmania’s awesome brothers. The side characters are nearly as vivid in my mind as the main ones and I’M SO EXCITED TO WRITE THEM ALL. ❤

5. How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

Getting ready for the hectic adventure that is NaNoWriMo, and prepping to write a book, are two separate (but in this case related) things. NaNo prep I usually do all or most of the stuff in this post: 30 Things To Do For NaNo Prep.

When I plot a novel, I like to have a summary, a rough outline, and a chapter-by-chapter list if possible, as well as names for characters, maybe some inspirational pictures, and just… well… to feel READY.

I also set up a pin board thing each NaNo. This is my current one (subject to change) and includes inspiring quotes by friends, NaNo stuff, inspirational pictures, and links to my Scrivener and folder.

This year I’m currently trying something new, which is having a dedicated journal just for writing down ideas for this story. I haven’t done much with it yet, so I’m not sure how helpful it will be, but so far I’ve jotted down some thoughts I’ve had over the last two weeks, which was handy. I’m hoping, soon, to really buckle down and write out a lot of my brainstorm ideas, and sort through old notes I have, and then see if I can organize (perhaps with Scrivener’s help) something out of the jumble that will hopefully end up resembling a plot outline… Hey, at least I have three weeks in which to do so, right?? *eye twitch*

6. What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

ALL OF IT. Okay, so I’m really excited to do a Little-Mermaid-ish story; I’m suuuper excited about the skyships and this world, and just the FEEL of it; I’m in love with these characters and can’t wait to write their stories. 🙂

7. List 3 things about your novel’s setting.

  • It’s in a fantasy world, which largely consists of floating cities in the clouds (Princess Tasmania is from the palace at the top of one of these), lots of rocky pillars thrusting up into the clouds and mist, farms and forests on the land below, and lots of ravines with cliffs plunging down into the misty unknown (nobody goes down there because it’s Not Safe), with wooden slat bridges and/or rope nets strung across the ravines and between pillars in some places.
  • There is no ocean in this world. (Oh, look. The Little Mermaid without the SEA. XD It’s all in the sky, peoples.)
  • A lot of the story (theoretically) takes place on skyships (a mix between our seagoing ships of the 18th century and STEAMPUNKERY), because skyships are awesome.

8. What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

Auren wants to marry Tasmania, and, well, there’s a lot standing in the way of that, which will include the trading-away-his-voice thing. (How can you ask somebody to marry you when you can’t, you know, ask?) So, that is to say, the Sorcerer of the Mist is in his way, and he’ll have to do something about that if he wants his happily ever after…

Princess Tasmania’s ultimate goal is order and keeping those she loves (and her ship) safe. Standing in her way is… pretty much everything in the book. XD Assassins and pirates and plots and all the things. But mostly her goal is getting rid of the threat against her and her family and friends, and definitely standing in her way is the Sorcerer of the Mist…

Rook just wants a normal life in the skynavy, and a family to love wouldn’t be amiss. His family being… pretty much dead… is therefore awkward, and so is himself being presumed dead and therefore kind of out of the navy. Then his major problems are a captain with a vendetta against him, oh, and awkwardly ending up without a memory… Yeah… So — surprise — it’s the Sorcerer of the Mist’s fault again… (This guy’s behind a lot; he’s a very busy fellow. XD)

9 How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

Whaaaat? And ruin the surprise?? (*cough* Which is another way of saying: I have no clue as of yet, since I haven’t written it. XD)

10 What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

So I don’t really pre-plan themes? But I think I’d like a strong theme of love and also friendship and loyalty. *shrug* What can I say, it’s a YA romance-y-ish novel, and I want all the characters to learn to be friends too. XD

I’d like the reader to feel like they just read a swashbuckling, EPIC, fun (and hopefully amusing?), possibly feelsy story, one worth spending all that time reading (and all the time I anticipate I’ll spend writing it. XD). I want them to feel like they just read a GOOD book, and to close it with a smile. 🙂 (And possibly hug it, but you know, that might be asking too much. :P)

~ ~ ~

So there you have a look at the novel I’m planning to write for NaNo! I’m also featuring it for #WIPjoy over on Twitter, so if you’re curious for more tidbits, you can peruse those throughout October.

I’m also thinking about posting some NaNo tips here on my blog next week, maybe, so stay tuned for that…

Who else is doing NaNo?? You can find me on the site as Celtic Forest Dweller if you need another writing buddy, and, yes, I do have a Pinterest board for this novel (which is currently messy and in need of organizing, but for what it’s worth, there you are. XD).

Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed. ^_^

Augtember Ishness: Steampunk & Star Trek & Beren, Oh My!

August – September 2017

Hello, my Roadlings! It’s October! I don’t actually want to hear that, but, well… such is life. Speaking of life, here are some Ishnesses of mine from the last two months. (Shh, of course Augtember is a legitimate month…)

LIFE

I was mostly busy with Life-ish and some Internet-ish things, but here are a few random things of interest that happened:

Sometimes I art. (Dragon from Jenelle’s Minstrel’s Song series for the Fellowship of Fantasy Fan Art Contest. I didn’t win but a different picture for the same series did. XD)

Sometimes I’m interviewed. This was one of those times. (Thanks, Emily!)

Sometimes I see an eclipse. (“See” is here a vague word. I didn’t look directly at it but the shadows did fascinating things.)

Sometimes I have a blogoversary. (A 4 year one at that!) I was so excited to give away books and celebrate. ‘Twas a blast! ^_^

Sometimes I start getting ready for being an ML (Municipal Liaison) for NaNoWriMo again this year. (‘Twill be my 5th year as an ML and 8th year participated in NaNo. I’m surprised too. What happened to Time, again?)

(Left-to-right: March-June bjournal-the-first, July-September bjournal-the-second, and as-yet-unstarted hopefully-bjournal-the-next. Also known as: whatever the latest journal I found at a library sale was when I needed to start a new bjournal. XD)

Sometimes I finish another bjournal. (Bullet Journal, for those unfamiliar with my bizzare and strangely-Nordic abbreviation.) I’d say “sorry to see you go, Max Out On A Limb” but I’m not actually sorry, because it wasn’t the easiest journal to write in so I’m actually relieved to be finished that one. Time to start the next one… (On my to-do list for today.)

WRITING

pixabay

I took a writing (and blogging) hiatus in August. It was much needed after a very busy July Camp NaNo when I “wrote” 30 hours.

I then proceeded to accidentally take a semi-hiatus from writing for most of September too, because I couldn’t decide what to work on and Life got busy.

Basically, I didn’t do much writing in the last two months. >.> Like… at all.

I did fiddle with a few stories (including Tare’s because he doesn’t ever leave me alone for too long because he’s guilt-trippy considerate like that. ^_^) so it wasn’t a total loss. Hopefully I benefited from the break?

I did, however, after much panicking (see above image. XD), finally decide what I’m writing for NaNoWriMo next month! 😀 *has minor heart-attack at the words “next month” being used to refer to November*

I’m (hopefully) writing The Siren and the Skyship, a Steampunk-Fantasy Little Mer(man?) retelling, WHICH I AM RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED ABOUT. I’m sure you’ll hear more about it this month and next, so don’t worry, there will be more on this subject sometime. XD

READING

I read 8 new books, re-read 4 (okay, one was read TO me on audiobook and was so fun!), and read a non-fiction too. Much lovely reading these last two months!

I was particularly excited to re-read The Silmarillion (it had been a few years since I read it last, so this was AMAZING!) and reading the new Beren and Luthien book, which was delightful! ^_^ I’m so pleased to (after far too long) be dipping back into Tolkien! In case anyone’s wondering, The Silmarillion is fabulous and my world from my childhood, and Tolkien’s Beren and Luthien poetry is amazing. ❤

Also The Little White Horse IS AWESOME and everyone needs to read it. And everyone also needs to read “Art and the Bible” if you’re a writer, or want to be a writer, or read, or anything.

I loved pretty much all the rest of the books I read too! 🙂 (Listed below, linked if I reviewed them recently.)

(If you’re interested, links to these books are on my Goodreads challenge page.)

WATCHING

So I watched a lot of things recently, which is rare for me. Maybe since I wasn’t writing?

I’m once again reminded that I don’t actually like to have opinions about movies because then I have to… well have opinions, and movies are my “fun” thing that I don’t do all the time and am not as passionate about as books. So I find I don’t always know what I think of movies, other than generally enjoying them… or something.

Anyway, they included:

  • The Secret of Moonacre — I saw the movie before the book! o.o I know, I’m so horrible. *coughcough* I quite enjoyed it, though I did enjoy the book (The Little White Horse) more once I read it. They’re toootally different, in a way. The film is fun but the book as AMAZING. ❤ (The movie did have Ioan Gruffudd as the grouchy uncle though, so that was fun. XD)
  • Star Trek — The three new Star Trek movies and a few episodes of the Original Series of Star Trek (I had never seen anything Star-Trek-related before; suddenly I’m understanding SO MANY references. I feel enlightened about cultural references now. XD) both of which were rather fun. I’m not a huge sci-fi fan in general? So, not my faaavorite, but I do find myself rather attached to Kirk and Spock and others. *nodnod* Overall, both the new and old versions were quite fun in their way. 🙂 (Yes, I saw the Tribbles; poor Kirk. XD Yes, I liked the timey-wimey stuff in the first new movie. Yes, Benedict CucumberKahn was interesting. Yes, it was weird that New-Kirk’s dad and mom were Thor and Emma Swann.)
  • Tuck Everlasting — Um. Bittersweet? I was bad again and saw it before reading the book (on my list) but it was kind of fun… kind of… except for some of it… I dunno what I think about it. 😛 The idea was neat and I loved the melody thing… Fun-ish. 🙂
  • Spider-Man — I had never seen anything Spidey-ish, other than his cameo in Captain America 3, but this month I managed to see the first two Tobey Maguire films. Pretty fun, though seemingly unnecessarily focused on “let’s make Spidey’s life miserable”. XD Not my faaave, but again, I feel so cultured now. XD
  • Saw Captain America: Civil War again, and Emma (with Pepper Potts and Obi-Wan; shush, I can call it that) again. That Emma film is quite fun, and I’m only in CA:CW for Bucky and Hawkeye and Bucky. *cough* Basically I want a Bucky and Hawkeye and Agent Hill movie. Is that so much to ask?
  • Aaand I started Once Upon a Time. I’ve seen all of 5 episodes so I’m not very far along. XD But, again, I now feel sooo much like I can start “getting” things. XD Quite fun thus far; curious where it’ll go. 🙂
  • I saw some other stuff but those are the highlights. 🙂 Basically, now I Know Things.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

Attention, everyone!

There’s going to be a blog tour, coming soon (early November) and it’s going to be cool! It’s going to be… Vintage Jane Austen Week! So if you’re a blogger and want to a) interview some awesome authors, b) read and review some of those awesome Jane Austen retellings set in the 1930s that I’ve been flailing about, or c) share the word with a spotlight post . . . then NOW IS THE TIME. The time to sign up, that is! Which you can do HERE. Otherwise, be watching out for that, because there’ll be cool stuff and a giveaway and it’ll be grand, basically. ^_^ (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can find out more about the series here.)

OCTOBER PLANS

Whew! What a busy couple of months, with much reading and watching and not-writing (whoooops) and a lot of lifely things which don’t seem interesting to report but somehow keep me quite busy outside of said mentioned things.

My upcoming plans include:

  • Starting a new bjournal (because how else can I keep track of all the things I need to do and don’t have time for? *coughcough*).
  • Doing ALL THE NANO PLOTTING AAAAHHH.
  • Freaking out about said NaNo’s approach (shhh, we all do it).
  • Trying to read ALL THE THINGS and review them and basically do a few months’ worth of work and projects BEFORE NANO.
  • Because clearly I’m insane. XD
  • *slumps* Yes, it’s that time of year when I’m trying to clear slates and do EVERYTHING, while trying to plot a novel (oh, I capitalized that as Novel when I first typed it. Feeling important, are we?).
  • Which is only slightly less insane than ACTUALLY trying to write a 50,000 word Novel (I did it again; must be reflexes trying to write November, or NaNo. Or a steampunk story with delusions of grandeur) in a month.
  • But we won’t think about that until November, right? RIIIIGHT???
  • [I lie. I’m going to be thinking about it 24/7 for the next month.] Ahem.

ANYWAY. That’s it for today! Thanks for reading my (dubiously interesting?) rambles about the ishnesseseses (precioussss) of my last one-sixth-of-a-year (goodness, that sounds long, where have I been?) — and have a splendiferous October, friends! It’s Fall and almost NaNo and we don’t know what to do about it, but let’s have a glorious fun mess of a time, shall we? *gives out cupcakes and throws Fall(en?) leaves and NaNo-prep-papers like confetti*

P.S. I may or may not be sharing tidbits about The Siren and the Skyship on Twitter all month for #WIPjoy. And also may or may not be participating in #Drachtober as well. You know, if I have time to keep up with both, which is dubious. XD Also, in regard to Drachtober, Jenelle is having a short story challenge on her blog, so check it out.

P.P.S. Thanks for reading! (Again.)

P.P.P.S. I feel like Gandalf now. This is marvelous. (Never resist the urge to use several postscripts. Embrace your inner Gandalf! And you will never be late! Or something. Because… wizards? *laughs at own joke* …Yeah, okay, I’m done now.)