Camp Nano Cabin Search

Hello there, my dear friends! Camp Nano kicks off tomorrow at midnight- I am really hoping I will manage to stay awake for the late night start, but there is always a possibility that I will turn into a pumpkin instead. I wanted to extend an invitation to anyone who may be interested or is sitting uncomfortably on the fence- if you would like to join our little writerly challenge, we still have plenty of room available in our group. All ages and genres are welcome (the more diverse the better). You don’t need to have any crazy goals for July- just a love for writing and an openness to talk with other people who share this little passion of ours.

For those who haven’t heard of it- it’s a virtual writing challenge, so no real sleeping bags are needed (unless you want one, then by all means- enjoy). If you would like more info, you can peek at the website right here Camp NaNoWriMo, or feel free to leave me a comment! I’ve participated the past couple of years, and though I’m not an expert, I’d like to think I’ve explored it enough to answer any questions. And if, as I hope you will, you decide to take the plunge and join this lovely little adventure- let me know- I have plenty of room for a friendly face in our cabin.

Happy writing, my friends! It’s going to be another crazy ride.

Camp Nano Adventures- If You Dare

Pull out the marshmallows, charge your laptop and stock up on your favorite summer treats- Camp Nano is back! At the end of the week we go charging into yet another literary adventure, my dear friends- if you dare to take the plunge. The July session of Camp Nano is set to begin at the stroke of midnight this very Friday. Be still my beating heart, I cannot wait!


Last camp didn’t feel particularly authentic to me. I was in an incredible cabin full of active and vibrant individuals who were constantly chatting and running word sprints together. It was truly inspiring- and yet, I had opted to work on an editing project for the last go-round. Granted, it was something that I deeply needed to invest in- but truthfully, I felt a bit left out. So this time around I am perhaps ignoring my better judgment and trying my hand at a brand new project. In fact, I will be working in a genre I don’t generally dabble in- a touch of historical fiction will be shaping my summer. 

I’m so excited; I have my plot all lined up, a soft sketch of my characters is sitting firmly in my mind, and I am ready to hit the ground running (If I manage to stay up until midnight on Friday, that is). It feels so good to play with a new story after I’ve spent so long diving into prior projects that are still in disrepair, no matter how much tlc I smother them with. I have new characters to know, new sets to craft, new shinanigans for them to dance through.

But the one thing that I am still on the lookout for: a few wayward writers in search of their own adventure. I set up a cabin this year (a bit later than usual), and now I am hoping to find some brave souls to embark on this journey with me. They’ve made camp so versatile this past year that you can really do just about anything with it. There are new methods of tracking your work, new styles you can claim- which makes your nontraditional paths much easier to traverse. I’ve worked on new novels, editing, poetry and even blog posts in previous years- the opportunities are endless. Not to mention the fact that they’ve expanded the figurative walls in each cabin- now you can easily accommodate 20 people in each group. And did I mention they finally set it up so you can name your cabin? It’s the little things in life that bring the most joy, I promise you this.

So if you dare to dream of the written word, my friend; if you have adventures running through your blood and stories singing in your heart- what do you have to lose? Take the plunge, my dear. Would you like to join me, fellow traveler? The fire is warm and the company is good. I can’t promise we will succeed in our endeavors, but I can swear that the journey will be well worth the work we put into it. Much like the brave little hobbits prodded by a wise wizard- you won’t know what you are capable of until you take that chance and step outside of your comfort zone. Please, dear friends- do you care to share in an adventure?

Tell Me a Story (Writing Prompt): Fears of the Future

Write a story inspired by the prompt and/or the photograph below. All styles and word counts welcome. May the odds be ever in your favor, my friends.

“Much like Icarus flying too close to the sun, our arrogance had been our undoing. In our boastful confidence, we never took the threat seriously. We had been giants for far too long to feel the true danger we were in; not once did we realize that we were Goliath on the verge of meeting David. Oh, how the world shook when we toppled. Some celebrated, some mourned; but everyone knew that nothing would ever be the same again. The meek did not inherit this earth, something more sinister did. That was a generation ago, and we still have not found our road to redemption.”

Original photo taken by myself in Seattle, WA. Shamelessly filtered later
Be bold and brave: leave a link to your story (or the story itself) down in the comments.

Non-Traditional Camp Nano (ready or not)

I finally did it! I have officially registered for Camp Nano! (Cue the fireworks, alert the parade, start the countdown for the trapeze artists, and someone please feed the dancing bears before they go on stage). Okay, so technically I meant to sign up at the beginning of the month, but it felt impossible simply because I could not decide on a project to dedicate the entire month of April to.

When it comes to Nano, I tend to be a bit of a traditionalist. I love a 50,000 word count goal, even during Camp. I adore starting a fresh project to push me through the month. There is nothing more thrilling than waiting for midnight (or the next day after work) to start filling in that blank page with the feverish creations of my own off-kilter mind. It’s an intoxicating moment; the total elation you get when you start a new project and the words flow smoothly, unencumbered by plot bunnies, storyline inconsistencies and wayward character. The page is like a blanket of freshly fallen snow, just waiting for you to come running out in the morning and start building your own little winter wonderland. I’ve always loved the thrill of a brand new Nano project.

And yet there is one big problem with continually brining in something fresh and new to the Nano table; if you do not diligently follow through on your editing during the post-Nano snooze, you wind up with a half dozen partially complete projects that are nowhere near being ready for public consumption. And this, my dear friends, is the dilemma that I have been facing. I need to spend a lot more time on my editing; it’s no secret, I will sing it from the mountain tops, I am well aware of the traps I set for myself in my literary haven. 

The problem really boils down to the fact that editing can be difficult and tedious work. It’s not nearly as thrilling as the first draft where anything goes and you can be a bit loose with your story line, reveling in the comfortable knowledge that you can fix it later. But if you keep on saying ‘later,’ eventually you realize that it will never really happen. Can I truly continue to hold on to the title of writer if I am unintentionally so resistant to the editing that I’ve had sitting on my to-do list for ages?

So this Nano, I have decided to be bold and try something a bit different, something that scares me more than I care to admit. You see, Camp Nano has added some pretty awesome new features to their website this year. When you go to register your story, you are presented with a few options that were not present a year ago. Instead of just the traditional word count, there are now three other tracking methods that will assist with different types of projects. Moving forward you can now track your progress by counting pages, lines, or hours. That’s right- they are making life about a hundred times easier for those pursuing projects that don’t fit the cookie-cutter word-count model. So in honor of this new change, I have decide to embrace it by throwing myself into my very first non-traditional Nano. 

I am going to spend my Camp on an editing project for an old story that I truly believe has a future. It’s a dystopian style novel that I wrote a couple of years ago, the first in a series. It has a decent storyline, but really needs to be pulled together. The prose needs to be tighter, the characters etched with a touch more definition, the plot carved into the soil a bit deeper. My first drafts always tend to come out a bit too fluffy- like I threw the pages into the dryer with an entire box of fabric softener. I have to chip away at the nice edges and force a bit of grit, inflict a dash of pain, boil the pretty words down until the rougher edges of the underlying humanity start to take shape. 

There will be a lot of re-writing involved, but it didn’t feel right to limit myself to a word count this year; I want to focus on the quality of the work for this round, not just the quantity. And if I work hard enough, perhaps I will be able to reward myself with the beginnings of a brand new novel during the summer Nano.

My next adventure will be all about finding a cabin for camp, a daunting task when you are working on something a bit non-traditional. However, I believe that particular quest is one I shall embark upon tomorrow. Stay tuned, my friends, I am quite sure I will be continually updated you on these little hopes, dreams, misadventures and potential bouts of begging for help.

If anyone is interested in joining (or if you have zero idea what Nano is and think I have finally lost every single marble I once possessed), take a peek at Camp NaNoWriMo. If you want to challenge yourself and your writerly ways, it is a fantastic motivator to get your booty in the chair every single day.  NaNoWriMo (which stands for National Novel Writing Month) holds two virtual camp sessions every year; you get to pick your own project, set your own goal for the month, and if you wish you can opt to join a ‘cabin’ or have one randomly selected for you. A cabin is basically just a message board with a specific group of other writers who are also participating. You track your progress and help one another on your journey. It’s addictive, and I have met some fantastic people over the years. The community is large and extremely supportive. I also find that a lot of them are just a tad odd- so I tend to feel more at home with them than with a lot of the ‘real’ world. If you are interested in joining, let me know- perhaps we might even be able to set up a private cabin. When it comes to Nano, the possibilities are endless.

Nano Adventure Comes to a Close (raise your glass)

It seems strange to think that we set out on our daring adventure just 30 days ago. And yet here we are, standing at the final stage on our figurative journey. The foes have been met and the dragons slain (or tamed, if you hold pro-dragon beliefs). We are battered and weary as allegories and alliterations dance through our tired minds, sped on by the hyperboles of our rhetoric. Whether you reached that goal or not- we have done this crazy thing, and come out on the other side. We are haggard, but we still stand.

This past month has been a whirlwind. And yet, after the dust has settled, and all has been said or done; I must admit, it has been a truly beautiful chaos we have found ourselves in. Life does not wait for us to finish that last paragraph or discover that awaiting plot bunny, no, it goes on no matter what crazy goals we have set for ourselves. Thanksgiving brought with it family fun and visits with old friends who have moved farther away than I’d like. There have been roadblocks and pitfalls (and I am still not over the horribly-awful-no-good-very-bad defeat of my Cougars at the Apple Cup this year. Luckily, my Husky friends were kind and didn’t run it in too bad.) And I am also a tad disappointed with my loss during our Ugly Christmas Sweater Party. Next year I will bring bribes for all voting participants. I’m just saying- I brought out Carlton! You know- ‘now this is a story all about how my life got flipped-turned upside down…’ (you know you sang that to the tune- and probably finished the next few lines). Who would have known that I would get Trumped in the end? (Pun very much intended: I lost to Trump and a reindeer yard ornament that was safety pinned to a sweater- they tied. I can only hope that my step-dad was truthful when his shirt promised to make Christmas great again).


My computer problems persisted (it still does not like the internet), however, it did miraculously decide to reconnect to the internet right after I managed to hit my goal- so I swooped in and validated: thank you computer gods who had mercy on me. I owe you some peppermint hot chocolate…or whatever it is you enjoy- perhaps some 001010110 scarves. 

So, this Nano I decided to try AGAIN at doing something completely and totally insane. I made a goal that I have attempted to reach every year (and every time, I have failed miserably). My goal: 100,000 words in one month. That’s right, I was one of those masochistic psychos that decided to attempt a double Nano this holiday season. I know what you are thinking, why put yourself through that writerly agony when you could instead be eating mounds of pumpkin pie completey ensconced in entire containers of whipped cream? Well let me tell you something: I am nothing if not a multi-tasker. Type with one hand and hold the fork in the other. Boom! Problem solved. (Word of advice, do not forget about the fork unless you think your laptop would look good with a pumpkin coat).

I don’t know what was different this year; I was just as busy as I typically am, life was filled with the normal drama and surprises. But I was determined. I jump in head first and just hoped that I could learn to fly. Sometimes all you really need is blind and reckless faith to force you out on that ledge. But you know what? All of the best stories start right there, with your toes poking over the edge.

This year it just felt right. I was hell bent, I was frazzled, but I was finding my muse and the motivation to dance with her. And so I clickity clacked well past my bedtime. When I wanted to watch my show, I waited to hit my daily goal before turning it on. I jumped way ahead of the curve, I fell behind, and ultimately, I rallied.

And you know what happened? I did it. That’s right, I actually met my crazy goal, not only that: I surpassed it. It was reach for the stars, over the moon World Series kind of stuff. I will proclaim it proudly: I wrote over 100,000 words in 30 days.

But you know what? It took me years to get to that point. It took a perfect aligning of inspiration and circumstances to allow me to even have a shot. And I honestly don’t know if I will ever be able to do it again. I can’t tell you that what I wrote was gold- because I was a tad delirious through half of it, and I am sure that the editing gods will smite me with their well-worded wrath. But for me, this year, that was not the point. This year I wanted to prove to myself that I could push past all logical endurance and achieve something that felt impossible. I wanted to remind myself that these crazy dreams of mine might not be as far-fetched as they have always felt. If I could accomplish this, well then, perhaps I can take another step and reach for something else. Maybe I’ll finally start sharing my work with my loved ones, or find the internal validation that I need to finish editing a project and step out in search of an agent. This year I was searching for my grit. And I found it.

We have fought a hard battle my friends, and I am so incredibly proud of all of us- I have been keeping up with the nano blogs, the message boards, the Facebook groups. Look at all we managed to accomplish- whether we hit our goals or not, we stepped out there, pen raised in the air and screamed our challenge to the blank page. Having the courage to even take that step is inspiring. And knowing that so many other people joined me on that front line makes me feel a little bit less alone in this wide world of ours.

So tonight, I raise my glass to you: cheers, my friends, there is no one I would have rather shared this adventure with. Thank you for keeping me inspired. Thank you for giving me the reason to keep on pushing and hit my goals. Because this year, that was the real difference: having this blog and all of you to keep me responsible. Thank you for helping my make my little dream a possibility.
And so, without any further ado, and for the last time this Nano season, let’s take a look at the final numbers:

Word Count: 113,269 out of 100,000

Percentage of Goal Complete: 113%

Current Mood on Project: you know how on Fridays your are happy and exhausted all at the same time? That’s how I feel. So happy I did this, and yet also simultaneously thrilled that I am done and can bury my nose in a few neglected books for the next week or two


 

Rushing Through Halftime: Nano Update #3

We have officially passed the day 15 mile marker and have started the Nano descent; love it or hate it, we are now sledding down the mountain to our inevitable conclusions. And of course: what a week it has been!

Truthfully, my week didn’t start out all that strong on the writing front. I was caught up in some good books I was reading (and listening to on audibles), and was stealing spare minutes to page through to the next chapter. One of them was equal amounts fascinating and disturbing. ‘This is Your Brain on Parasites’ will not only educate you, but convince you that you have little critters in your brain controlling your movements like a robot. It will also teach you that your cat is an evil mastermind. And washing your hands is vitally important. In spite of the fear enduring moments, I loved it nonetheless, and would recommend it to anyone interested in finding some good fodder for a sci-fi thriller or zombie novel (if you are working on the latter, you also have to give ‘Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep’ a shot).

On Friday morning I almost caught my hair on fire. Okay, that might be a tad dramatic, but my hairdryer did start changing it’s speed and then smelled strongly like burning plastic. I opted to risk getting a cold and ran out of the house with sopping wet, stringy hair because I was terrified my little drier would explode in my face. I also left it in the sink far away from any flammibles just in case spontaneous combustion decided to become a thing in my house while I was at work. Good news: it did not.

A weekend dentist appointment (I know, I’m a glutton for punishment apparently) left me with a deep appreciation for things that I generally take for granted. First: whoever created localized anesthetics was an amazing human being and I owe them an immense gratitide for all that they did in the name of pain management. Based on the sounds I heard coming from my gaping mouth, it’s a good thing I was so numb I could barely blink my own eye. I walked out of that office feeling like two-face from Batman- the entire right side was totally numb and unmanageable. I attempted to act like a normal human being while walking through Target (on a mission to replace my aforementioned hairdryer) though I suspect they noticed something was a tad off when I kept running my hand over my mouth to see if I was smiling with both sides. I also rediscovered the importance that I put on the spoken word in my daily life. How, you ask? Well, when your tongue is numbly rolling around in your mouth like a water wiggle, it takes a concentrated effort not to lisp or bite it. Repeatedly. In situations like that, silence is truly golden.

Last night was also a bit of an adventure: started out by going out to a rare little date night to see ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.’ Word of advice: get up right now, find the nearest showing and go see it. Feel free to take my advice with a grain of salt- I am a hardcore Harry Potter fan and love anything and everything about that world. But nonetheless- still see it. It’s cute, it’s fun, the settings are gorgeous and the actors did a phenomenal job adding memorable quirks to their characters. I loved it.

On the way home, however, the real adventure began. It was only about 9:30 at night when we say a car almost hit another while changing lanes in front of us. The offending vehicle veered away before things went south. I thought that would be the end of it- it happens to all of us, I’ve been guilty of those mistakes myself. But then the weaving started- back and forth across two lanes of highway traffic right in front of us. At one point he was driving right in the middle, straddling the line between the lanes. And then he started tailgating an older woman in her car. So I did something I have never done before: I called the police. We kept an eye on him until our exit. I don’t know what wound up happening. He looked really young, too young. I can just hope that nothing happened after we lost sight of him.

Needless to say, it was a relatively eventful week. My writing, however, was starting to suffer; perhaps ‘starting’ is the wrong word- my writing was continuing to suffer. The week two slump hit me hard. And I used my week one progress as an excuse to relax, to do other things, to let my project languish. In fact, I spent a good portion of this past week behind schedule. I had lost all of the lead that I had gained in the first few days on Nano. I had been halfway through my goal before week one was out- a huge lead; I lost all of that. 

But then, this weekend; I rallied. Yes, in the midst of my regularly scheduled life, an amazing thing happen: the muse decided to grace me with her presence again, that fickle little fairy that she is. I had been burnt out- it always happens to me in week two of Nano, I hit a slump and fell face first into a literary rut. Climbing back out feels amazing. I didn’t add as many words as I had originally wanted to over the weekend, but I have the drive to push forward. Last night when we got home I even went straight back to my laptop and started tapping away. I finally had to force myself to put my work away and go to bed at 11:30 (this is late for me).

I’m trying to run with this for as long as it holds out, because that muse does not tend to stick around long. I’m not moving as fast, but I would like to think that I’m getting out higher quality content. At the very least, I’m working through some stronger ideas and plot points than I had originally figured out. So I’m running with it. 

I feel like I’m really going to do it this time, if I can just keep up my momentum and keep the work going steady. I’m afraid to get too excited though; I’ve stumbled at the finish line before. I have had years where I made it up into the 80k range and then fell off the cliff when I tried to fly. The key is to focus on one day at a time and not get too far ahead of myself.

So let’s peek at the numbers and see how it’s going:

Word Count: 81,721 out of 100,000

Percentage of Goal Complete: 81%

Current Mood on Project: feeling like I just drank a Monster energy drink and I’m ready to rock the keyboard (or cry trying)

Still Surviving: Nano Update, Week Two

Wow, my friends, what a test this last week has been! And yet, we have all survived- perhaps a bit haggard, a tad battle worn; but we are still standing tall. Don’t worry, I won’t be delving into anything political, today we are going to keep things light because I think that’s exactly what we need. That being said, when I wrote my update one week ago, I truly thought that the election madness was nearly at an end. This just goes to show that I always jinx it. I’ve been a bag of mixed emotions lately, but I am getting back into my groove because that’s what will be best for me right now.

So, my first week had gone better than I could have imagined. Going into week two, I knew that I was not going to be able to keep that momentum up. I was okay with that. For starters, I was sick, and didn’t really kick the crud until Friday. Tuesday, naturally, was a lost writing day for me, given the historic implications of the day, I think that can be forgiven. And I will be honest, like a car wreck, I have been unable to look away from the news since then. It’s bad for me, I know this And I’m starting to think I’m a bit addicted to my social media- the best cure: focus on my writing, and when I want to look on my phone, I have to open my kindle app and read a little bit of my book instead. 

Saturday was pretty awesome though- we spent a ton of time in the car, but we were able to drive down to the coast for an early Thanksgiving with my extended family. I always forget how much I miss them until I’m around them. We got there just in time to join them for a delicious dinner, and after that we went with my aunt and cousins to take all of their kids out onto the beach for a walk. I missed them- just talking, laughing. They’re great people who I really need to start breaking out of my box and making more time for. I had a blast, and realizing that my cousins brought water bottles of mimosas on our walk just reminded me that these ladies are my spirit animals. After that, we had a long drive back home- but it was lit by a big bright moon the whole way. It was gorgeous. All in all, a successful day, even if there was no writing involved.

I have hit one little snag that has me a bit worried though. You see, every nano I run into some kind of technical difficulty. For the first few years, back when Link was just a puppy, I had a slew of years where he would attempt electroshock treatments and chew through all of my charging cables. Repeatedly. Lucky for me, this is a phase he has finally grown out of. But this year, my laptop decided to make its own political statement. Apparently it is sick of the state of current events and it has cut off all communication with the outside world until further notice. Even my fiancé- who is a master in computers- wasn’t able to get it to change its mind. Hence why you may have noticed a slight downfall in my number of posts this past week. I am currently typing this out on my phone, which, needless to say, isnt particularly ideal. I’m not sure what I’m going to do. My laptop isn’t that old, but I can’t do the things that i have to do if it won’t connect to the internet. It makes this blog difficult. And I have no idea how I will be able to validate my nano if I can’t get my words copied to the website. But I am not going to panic yet. Nope, one more week in willful ignorance will not kill me. I can be in denial until the panic attack hits.

So, on to the writing: the real purpose of this post. I didn’t really get a lot of writing done until yesterday. I finally sat down for a few hours last night and was able to crank out a few thousand words. I tapped into the myriad of emotions I’ve been feeling this week, and it flowed like wine. And I hit a pretty momentous goal. I made it to 50k yesterday, which means that I am still on track to get my illusive 100k this year. I am thrilled! But, honestly, I’m also a bit terrified. This is the first time my goal has really felt tangible. And I am so scared that I will flop in these coming weeks and mess it up. It wouldn’t be the first time. I fizzle and pop. I am so scared that I will ruin the advantage I was able to give myself. I’m trying to keep the anxiety away and let myself just enjoy the fact that I’m still hanging in there, but those moments of doubt always find their way back in. 

So, without further ado, my goal update, by the numbers:

Word Count: 57,649 out of 100,000

Percentage of Goal Complete: 57%

Current Mood on Project: Starting to wear out, but still smiling