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A Christmas Gift

Merry (belated) Christmas!

I hope that you were and are able to spend time with family and friends this week.  As a Christian, I marvel at Christmas.  The thought of an all-powerful God even deigning to acknowledge lower life-forms is staggering, much less the incredible mercy he showed when he, who owed us nothing, made a willing sacrifice.  When I give gifts at Christmas, I am always pleased to give freely, but I could never come close to the grace that was shown to us when Jesus was born in this world.

Today I have a Christmas gift for you.  Since Christmas is a celebration of birth and hope, I have a passage from this year's NaNo about a birth.  It is rough and largely unedited, I just tweaked a few things.  Hope you enjoy!

The light was soft.  It filtered through the narrow gap in the roof of the cave-like enclosure that housed their village, warm and gentle.  The First Elder smiled and nodded at Delo's parents.  Together, the three of them approached the Lifebed. Delo watc…

A Meaningful Death

Early yesterday morning, Burleson County lost Sergeant Investigator Adam Sowders while he was serving a warrant.

I was one of the first responders on the scene.  I did not know him personally, and this is not the first death that I have encountered in my line of work.  But as a first responder - EMS, fire, or law enforcement - you take the death of one of your own personally.  I hope that you all can pray for his family and friends, be thinking of them, and, if you are in the area, offer to help in any way that you can.  Especially this close to Christmas.

The experience makes me think about something I have heard regarding authorship:  "Make your deaths meaningful."  In other words, when you as an author decide to kill a character, the death needs to mean something greater to your story.  You shouldn't just end a character arc because you ran out of things for them to do.

In my brief time as an EMT, I can say with confidence that death is rarely meaningful, and it is n…

Reading to Give Feedback

Hello!

This week I have been reading some of my friends' writing.  I've done this in the past some, and I have tried to give the same kind of feedback that I would be looking for on my story.  If you are a writer, you have been or will be asked to give feedback on another person's work.  This would be as an alpha/beta reader type of position.  It's important to give feedback that is clear and constructive, because that's the kind we want for ourselves.  Be advised, I am describing feedback done on the entirety of a piece, not a small sample, although I would probably still do that the same way.

Here is a screenshot of some of my comments on a piece done by one of my friends (Thank you, Andrew.)

My first recommendation is to use a running commentary throughout the story.  Read in a word processor that allows you to make notes that you can send to the author, anchored to the piece of the story you are talking about.  The above is in Google Drive where you can store f…

NaNo Hangover Remedies

I really didn't want to do a post-NaNo post.  I really wanted to go on to talk about other things besides the fever-dream that is NaNoWriMo since it has already taken up an entire month.  But that is the story that needs me to tell it this week, so here it is.

November is still a bit hazy to me.  The pounding headache has left but the vertigo is sticking around for a while, it seems.  I feel all the time I was using writing.  It feels like a vacuum in my life has been shut off and now there is air again.  My body wakes up at 5am.  Consistently since Dec. 1st.  For absolutely no reason.  The NaNo site cleverly used a title similar to the one above in their email they sent out Monday.  I refuse to change mine out of principle, since I wrote most of this Sunday night, and I had it first. :D

If you did not participate in NaNo, but you know and/or love someone who did, you should be pleased to see work responsibilities, household chores, and personal hygiene rise back up to their forme…

On Foot

Hello Friends!  Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

Today is the twenty-ninth day of NaNoWriMo.  My current wordcount is 44,956. (Yes, I know, behind.)

This year, in my region, we are having a bit of a strange year.  Most of us are behind.  In fact, almost all of us are.  We've been behind since the first or second week of the month, and just haven't been able to catch up.  This is weird for us, because usually we have several people that get way past 50k by the second week.  And we have several people that are the slow-but-steady type (I usually fall into that category).  Inevitably, we have some WriMos that don't make it to 50k words, but this year, we might have several more.

I have words of encouragement for those who are behind. Today is the second-to-last day to get words in, and I have seen people drop well over 10,000 words into their novel in two days to finish at 50k.  But my words of encouragement are not just for those that have a chance at hitting the mark.  This is f…

Don't Let the Well Run Dry

Hello Friends!

Today is the twenty-second day of NaNoWriMo.  My current wordcount is 33,855.  Still a little behind.

I have a post for you today about keeping your creative juices flowing.  Since this is the end of the third week of NaNoWriMo, if you have been participating, you may be feeling them start to ebb.  How do you keep your brain from shriveling up when you're asking it to marathon out a major project?

Feed it.
You can do this several ways.

1) Actual food.  Your brain (and all the cells in your body for that matter) run off of glucose, which is a carbohydrate.  While the fastest way to get that energy to your cells is to eat simple carbs (foods high in sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, or fructose alone), that is where you get a sugar high and then the subsequent crash.  You can eat complex carbohydrates, like whole grains, starches, or vegetables, for energy that will last you longer.  That being said, I went out and spent $30 on junk food earlier this week.  We didn…

Research: Flora and Fauna

Hello friends!

Today is the 15th day of NaNoWriMo (halfway!), current wordcount is 22,323.  Yes, I'm a bit behind.

I'm doing another research post today to let you in on some of the cool ways I've been thinking about my world.  My Neif are placed (rather poorly) in a swamp somewhere in the southeastern portion of the US.
While this creates obvious water/temperature problems for them, as people made out of sugar, it also means they come into contact with an amazing array of plant and animal life.  (If the sugar thing is throwing you, you can check out my earlier research post about some of the science behind the magic of the Neif here.)

I found a really great site, http://www.wild-lab.com/, which was developed by the Audubon Nature Institute and is used as an educational tool for fifth through seventh graders about Louisiana wetlands.  If you click "Go Through Curriculum As Guest" you can still access all the information without having a login.  Very educational, …

Plantsing FTW

Hello Friends!

Today is the eighth day of NaNoWriMo, my current wordcount is 12,310.

There is lots of debate within the NaNo communtity about whether writers should be Planners (self-explanitory) or Pantsers (as in by-the-seat-of-your-pants).  Within the larger writing community you might recognize this as the difference between Outlining or Discovery Writing, or being an Architect vs. a Gardener.
I will not tell you that one method is better than another.  Different methods work best for different writers.  Different methods can even work for different projects by the same author!

My first NaNo, I started on Nov. 1st with one cool idea and half a plot. It was very difficult for me to get to the end of 50,000 words,.  I did it, but it was torture.  However, forcing myself to get those words down taught me what it is to build a scene off of a single uninspired sentence, and that is a skill I have been making good use of ever since.  Last year, I had a more solid outline, and I had a mu…

Research: Combining Sciences to Create Fantasy

Hello Friends!

Today is the 1st day of NaNoWriMo, my current wordcount is 395.

I have some great news! Thursday, October 24th at 6:51 pm, I finally got to THE END of my NaNoWriMo project for last year!  Heck yes I looked at the clock, it was an important moment.  The bad news is, I had a week to finish prepping for my NaNo project for this year.  So I thought I'd talk about some of the research I've been doing, since I was spending time doing it anyway, and then you guys get a little flavor of what my story will be like this year.

Most of my characters in this story are a humanoid race called The Neif.  They are about eight inches tall, made of sugar, and their bodies are the consistency of taffy.  Now, normally I would like to make my own taffy to get a literally hands-on experience, but unfortunately, time does not permit.  Maybe after the madness that is November.

Here is a really simple taffy recipe.

The Neif don't wear clothes.  I mean, this is a fantasy story for peo…

What's it Worth?

I was in the middle of writing a different blog post for this week when I got some disappointing news.  Those of you that know me personally may have been aware that I was applying for a nursing program to start in January.  Suffice it to say, I did not get in.

This brought afresh some feelings I have been struggling with over this past year.  I'm 24, I graduated early with my Bachelor's in Biology from one of the nation's best schools, and I still haven't made it to where I want to be.  I've been rejected for med school twice already.  I feel like all the things I'm good at are things at which anyone can excel.  I feel like I'm treading water.  You don't need professional training to be a homemaker, or a good listener.  You don't need a degree to be an EMT.  You don't need any training at all to write.

I am very proud of my accomplishments.  I know what kind of person I am.  And when I think of the areas in which I have failed, I tend to fear …

A Tale of Two Heroines

KATNISS VS VIN

Hello All!  I finishedthe Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins last year, and (with most of the rest of the country) went to see the film based on the first book in theaters.  And we are all eagerly anticipating the second film, which hopefully will be a little less shaky cam.  But (unlike the rest of the country) I won't be talking about the movie, I'd like to discuss the treatment of heroines in two different trilogies: The Hunger Games, and The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson.  The more I thought about this idea, the more it seemed like some sort of English assignment, but I really thought it might be fun to compare and contrast.  The heroines both have a great number of things in common, but are very different women.  Also, these books are in two different genres and reading levels, so this is kind of an apples and oranges comparison.  
ALERT! ALERT!  THERE WILL BE SPOILERS!!  It is impossible to discuss completely that which you refuse to disclose, so …