NaNoWriMo Bootcamp #1

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Drop and give me 20! 

20 unique letters and number, maybe a special symbol or two, for a password. No, don’t tell me. You’ll need it for the two things you should set up before you start writing.

The first thing we need to do, before we start talking about craft, is setting up everything you need to succeed. Now, how you choose to write, how you choose to set things up, this is entirely your own thing. I’m just going to outline for you how I set up my digital writing space so you can take what you want and leave what you don’t.

First thing first, I know there are a lot of you who prefer to write by hand, but you won’t survive NaNo that way. You need to write 50,000 words in the space of 1 month, and to officially “win” you need to be able to drop those 50k in NaNo’s official word count verifier, so they have to be typed. Can you imaging trying to hand write 50k words and THEN having to type them all in as well? That right there’s a nightmare, that’s what that is. So you need to set up a digital space in which to write.

You don't want to end up like this guy!
You don’t want to end up like this guy!

(Edit – According to the official NaNo site, if you don’t have access to a computer, you can write by hand, count all your words the old fashioned way, have a friend verify that, and then use a random word generator create the words you need to fill the word checker on nanowrimo.org. As you were…)

I highly recommend setting up your space in an online file storage system like Google Drive. Dropbox works, or whatever your favorite cloud storage system is fine, but Drive is my favorite for two reasons: ease of use and auto-save. That’s right, it saves your work FOR you, and frequently, so if something crashes, you won’t lose everything you forgot to save from your writing session which started three hours back. If you already use drive, good for you! If you want to set up drive, click here.

My favorite cloud-based text editing service!
My favorite cloud-based text editing service!

Next, you want to set up your files within Drive. Create a new folder with your working title, so all your files are in one place. Then I create three files immediately. Outline, People Places and Things, and Table of Contents. Lastly, I start creating separate files for each of my chapters. This allows the files to be more manageable, have fewer errors on saving, and open faster. Of course, you it’s harder to tell what your total word count it, but that’s where the table of contents file comes in handy.

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I use table of contents to do three things. 1) Track word count 2) Check that my relative word count per chapter is roughly balanced for whatever effect I’m driving for (sometimes having long and short chapters is desirable, sometimes more equal lengths creates the proper effect) and 3) Help figure out my chapter naming scheme once the book is written. It’s totally fine to keep your chapters numbered and unnamed, most people do, but this particular series uses quippy fun titles to reference what’s coming up in the chapter, so making sure they work together is necessary. Here’s what my TOC looks like at set-up:

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Ahhh, nice and fresh! I’ve left my cursor on the total count cell so you can see the equation I’m using to track the important stuff. The equation for total page count is, you guessed it, =SUM(D1:D15). The reason it goes to 15 is because I’m pretty sure I’m going to have more than 11 chapters, so i’m just being prepared. The nice thing about Google Spreadsheets is if I insert a line within the equation parameters, it automatically adjusts it for me. How sweet! Make sure to update this every time you write, and then you can drop your total word count into the NaNoWriMo site.

What’s that? You don’t have a log in for the NaNoWriMo site yet? Well, that’s the second thing you should probably set up. I mean, you can totally go it alone and not bother with NaNo at all, but I find the community and tracking system very motivating. So, if that sounds like fun to you, you should go here and set up your free NaNoWriMo account!

From there, you can set up your profile and the details for your novel for this year. It’s a lot of fun thinking up a working title and designing a quick little cover. You can also link up with your friends (my username is writerlybliss) and keep track of how well you all are doing! Check out my page for this year:

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I think that about wraps it up for the prep work I like to start with. Come back next week when we start the story prep with plotting! And even if you’re a pantser* you can still benefit from this session, promise.

*A pantser is a novelist who prefers to write by the seat of their pants rather than creating an outline prior to beginning work.

It’s NaNo Bootcamp Time!

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Have you ever wanted to write a novel? Have you read about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) but were too scared to give it a go? Or thought you just didn’t have the time? Guess what, that’s about to change!

This month, I’m starting a NaNoWriMo bootcamp, taught in person at the Bureau of Fearless Ideas on Greenwood in Seattle, and posted online here for anyone who wants to play along remotely! I will be working on the sequel to Less Than Charming (working title Written to Be) at the same time. But you won’t get spoilers out of me that easily! For the purposes of the exercises we’ll be using Harry Potter to fill out the worksheets and talk about the various aspects of a novel you need to have prepped for next month.

If you want to make sure you don’t miss anything over the next couple months, be sure to subscribe to my blog! And you may yet get a surprise at the end as a treat for attempting NaNoWriMo yourself…

Belated Updates

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Hello all! So sorry I haven’t been communicative the last little bit, but whoo boy have I been dealing with a lot! I’ll make a post following up on these things individually, but here’s the summary:

First, Less Than Charming launched in May, and the party was fabulous. And I went to the National Storytelling Festival to promote it, which was a ton of fun.

Second, Zosozo in Oz, the second of the Ozite Cycle novellas, is done and live! You can get your copy now from the usual sources.

Third, I am now teaching classes at the Bureau of Fearless Ideas, a wonderful writing center for grade-school aged kids in Seattle. This October and November I will be teaching a NaNoWriMo bootcamp, and I’ll be posting the course materials and lessons here at the same time to help anyone who wants some pointers for writing 50,000 words in a month.

Fourth, a large part of the reason I’ve not been updating my website much is because I’ve been dealing with a lot of health stuff over the last few years, and it had gotten particularly difficult to keep doing everything, but I finally have a diagnosis! After 5 years of specialist visits and non answers, I have a few diagnoses that explain *gestures to all of me.* I’ll have more details down the way because I think some people might benefit from education on these topics.

And I am back!

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Sorry for the long hiatus, friends, but there was a LOT going on in the last year. Started with some health issues, then getting engaged, getting married, and then moving across the country, among some exciting (and time consuming) writing projects. I am now finally settled enough to come back to this page, and boy do I have a lot of news for you!

First: Less Than Charming has been picked up for publication by Parkhurst Brothers Publishing! And I got to do the design for it as well! Check out the cover:

LTCCover

Its launching in June of 2016 and I will keep you updated on its progress and event news.

Second: Zosozo of Oz, the second novella in the Ozite cycle (see what I did there?) is almost ready for release and should be hitting shelves by the beginning of November! Again, I’ll keep you posted.

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Third: My short story, “Pit Stop,” is going to be featured in the Night Lights Anthology by Geminid Press! I’ll let you know when that’s available for purchase as well.

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I think that’s all for now, but rest assured that during my silence I’ve been hard at work creating more content for all ya’ll! Happy reading!

The Green Lake Collection is Live!

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As most of you know, I have spent most of the last year working with the new Seattle Play Series on their debut set: The Green Lake Collection. Not only do I have a short play in the series, I was also in charge of all the design and layout for the project. For those of you who backed the Indiegogo project, your copy is being mailed to me as we speak and you should have it before Thanksgiving! For anyone who hasn’t purchased their copy yet, but wants to, click the link above, or the picture below, and it’ll take you straight to Amazon to get your own copy! The play is available in print, in every digital format, and, really, any way you could want it. Let me know if I missed a format…

The Hugo Award Winners

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Since I had been posting my voting record for the Hugo, I figured it was only fair to post the final results and how I feel about them.

BEST NOVEL – Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie (Orbit US / Orbit UK) Yay! Perfect. This novel is beautiful and all of you need to read it RIGHT NOW.

BEST NOVELLA – “Equoid” by Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013) Eh…well, its well written but I don’t normally enjoy horror and this was rather gruesome for my taste. But no ill will.

BEST NOVELETTE –  “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal (maryrobinettekowal.com / Tor.com, 09-2013) Wish it had been the other, but this story is beautiful, so congrats Kowal.

BEST SHORT STORY – “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu (Tor.com, 02-2013) YAY! Again, this story was just beautiful and you all need to read it right now.

BEST GRAPHIC STORY –  “Time” by Randall Munroe (xkcd) Yes, yes, yes! Congrats Randall, you deserve it. This was a truly unique piece of work.

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, LONG FORM – Gravity written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Esperanto Filmoj; Heyday Films;Warner Bros.) Grumble grumble grumble…first true disagreement…this was nothing but trite disaster porn…

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, SHORT FORM – Game of Thrones “The Rains of Castamere” written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by David Nutter (HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions) Eh, I’m not a Game of Thrones fan, I find it all just excessive and unnecessary, but whatever, people like it.

BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST – Julie Dillon, congrats, your art is stunning!

BEST FAN ARTIST – Sarah Webb, again, congrats!

And stuff I didn’t vote on…but congrats guys!

BEST RELATED WORK – “We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative” by Kameron Hurley (A Dribble of Ink)

BEST EDITOR, SHORT FORM – Ellen Datlow

BEST EDITOR, LONG FORM – Ginjer Buchanan

BEST SEMIPROZINE – Lightspeed Magazine edited by John Joseph Adams, Rich Horton, and Stefan Rudnicki

BEST FANZINE – A Dribble of Ink edited by Aidan Moher

BEST FANCAST – SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester

BEST FAN WRITER – Kameron Hurley

JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER – Sofia Samatar

The 2014 Hugo Award winners were announced on Sunday evening, August 17, at the ExCel Converntion Centre in London, England. The ceremony was hosted by Justina Robson, Geoff Ryman. Text-based CoverItLive coverage of the ceremony was provided through the Hugo Awards web site. Video streaming coverage was provided by Ustream.

The 2014 Hugo trophy base was designed by Joy Alyssa Day

See the Final Ballot Details for a full breakdown of votes, subsequent placements, and nomination counts.

New Interview and News!

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Hey guys! Sorry for my long absence. Between some health stuff and major projects, I just haven’t had much time to review books and the like, but I will be back soon! Probably with a less aggressive review schedule. But for now, have a news digest!

I was interviewed for Relate Magazine, you should check it out here! It was a lot of fun, and I think its a great magazine dedicated to helping young women have healthy views of themselves and their opportunities in life.

I had a lot of fun working with the Dirty Little Bookers a couple months ago as their first Calling All Indies award winner, and they just finished designing the badge to put up on our stuff, so check it out!

CALLING ALL INDIES! badge

From now until forever it’ll live in the sidebar as a point of pride.

For those of you on the mailing list, never fear, your free short stories will keep on coming. I’ve also been hard at work on the sequels to Undeliverable and Thea of Oz, so keep an eye out for those at the beginning of the next year.

If you’re getting ready to do Christmas presents, why not gift a book? Between Undeliverable and Thea of Oz, I can cover most literary tastes, and if you want to give something hand-made, why not check out my Etsy store? Lots of pretty things at reasonable prices!

I hope you all have had an awesome September, and are looking forward to October. I know I sure am. I’ve got some fun projects I’ll talk to you guys about in a few days!