NaNoWriMo and nap plotting

National Novel Writing Month & The Importance of nap plotting

Alas, I’ve been a bad blogger over the last few weeks. :(  Life got busy, as it tends to do, but, like the prodigal daughter, I have returned.  So, let’s slaughter the fatted calf or NaNoWriMo word counts, if we can manage it…

I don’t know about you, but I like to have a loose idea about my scenes or chapters before I write them.  I’m not a hard-core outliner, though sometimes if  I have a full story idea in my mind, I will jot down notes for future scenes (out of fear of forgetfulness).

But, I am a fan of what I call visualizations…also known as nap plotting.

imageHear me out, this isn’t just an excuse to nap – well, maybe a little. :)

When I get to a difficult bit in a story (patch of dialogue, a character stuck somewhere, or a scene not flowing), I find it helpful to visualize what will happen next. And really, you can’t properly visualize without closing your eyes.

…and since visualizations take a while, shouldn’t your neck also be supported and your head comfortable?

….and it is November, so clearly snuggling into that blanket can only help the situation.  :)

Most of the time after my nap-plotting, I know what my characters should do next.  Of course, there are times when I wake up without a clue of what should happen next.  But hey, a nap can never really be counted as a loss.  Besides, maybe my writer brain just needed to turn off before coming up with my next idea.  Speaking of which, I need to “visualize” the next part of the my novel and hopefully I won’t drool too much on my notebook the time…. ;)

Happy November and happy novel writing, writers!  May your pens be mighty and your plots be strong! :)

On revising books for certain readers…

I recently came across an article in the New York Times,  which talked about many non-fiction authors revising and removing content from their works to make it more palatable for younger readers.

Let me say, I understand the concept of protecting children, really I do.  But, I am strongly against watering down or censoring novels  – especially non-fiction novels.

If an event/chapter is removed from a survivor’s account or from a historical battle, just to make us feel better, doesn’t that alter the history?  Even if it makes us uncomfortable or keeps us up at night, if it is part of the story, I believe it should be told…because once we begin editing a history (for what ever reason), where will we stop?

As a storyteller, you want people to be able to connect with what they’re reading, to the stories of other people and other places.   Part of that connection is positive, but part of it can be negative too.  I say, if someone wants to read a book – let them read it.  If they want to stop halfway through, they can.  But let them make that choice for themselves.

 

What do you think?

Confessions of an office worker…

Confession #1 – I listen to pandora on my headphones while doing work and….sigh, sometimes I can’t help it, I have to dance or mouth the words. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to adjust dancing arms or head bobbing into convincing stretches when people walk by. But I don’t think they’re onto me, yet….hopefully. :)

What’s your office confession?

NaNoWriMo is coming…

National Novel Writing Month (in November, in case you didn’t know) is right around the corner…are you ready for it?

….am I?

hmmm.  I’m not as ready as I’d like to be, but I do have a few writing ideas that I’ve been thinking about.  Essentially, my internal debate comes down to two choices.  Should I go for:

1) cute, funny, romantic comedy – I wrote one of these last time and had a blast…I also still have to edit the first  draft, but that’s an issue for another day.  Clearly, November isn’t National Edit Your Crap month…not sure when that month would be, but I’m sure it would be awful.  :p

2) dark thriller/mystery/romance – hmmmm.  Now, these conceptual ideas are fun and interesting.  However, in practice….for me, it’s been hard to keep the dark mood throughout the novel.  I always feel the need to have a character crack a silly joke in the middle and it ruins the whole brooding mood.  Maybe this time, I’ll try for a dark-ish comedy?  We’ll see, I still have quite a number of days before NaNoWriMo.  And so do you. ;)

 

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with quotes by writers, to get you in the mood for those intense 30 days (why couldn’t they pick a month with 31?!) known as National Novel Writing month:

- “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

- “There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway

- “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” – Stephen King

- “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison

One Year!

Happy 1 year blog anniversary!

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Exactly one year ago, I began my journey into the blogosphere.  YAY! :)  And I’ve enjoyed the ride.  Thanks to everyone for reading, commenting, following, and most importantly connecting with me (as well as with Bella, my silliness, and my love of smut).  :)

Firsts Series – Part 4

Firsts Series

In honor of this blog turning one, I’m continuing with a series of posts on my firsts.

First Romance Novel

As sad as it sounds, I actually don’t remember my first…I blame the fact that there have been many.  :p  But, I do remember how I first came across the romantic fiction genre…

My aunt must have cleaned out her stacks of romance novels and gave my mom two glorious grocery bags filled with books.  I happened upon the bags and naturally dipped my hand into them.  I can imagine my thought process -

Young Alicia sees a random romance novel with a cover of a woman in a lovely old-fashioned dress and thinks, “that’s a pretty dress.”  Alicia flips over the book to read the synopsis and thinks, “Lady Penelope will do anything to find her father’s murderer, including posing as a maid in Lord R’s sprawling estate?  Interesting.  What’s the ton?”  Alicia opens the book to investigate.  2 hours later, Alicia is a page away from the romance in an old school romance novel.  And thinks, “okay, now they’re married.  Hmmm so this should end soon and then they should get back to the mystery of who killed Lady Penelope’s father,” Alicia flips the page, eyes widening.  “Whaaaaaaat?”  Alicia flips another page and starts to fan herself, “so. much. detail.”

First Erotica

I may not remember my first romance novel, but you can bet your ass that I remember my first erotica…though it does help that it was many, many years later.

So, my first erotica was “The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty,” by Anne Rice (yes, the vampire lady also wrote naughty, naughty erotica).  I remember my reaction, mostly because I was exclaiming it to the other person in the room:

Alicia: “Holy shit, it’s the first chapter and they’re already having sex!”

20 minutes later, “oh my God, they’re having sex again!”

20 minutes later, “seriously! more sex!”

20 minutes later, Alicia eyes the cover of the book, “more sex? What is this sorcery?”

And so went my introduction to erotica. :)

My new, old typewriter

I have a confession.  I’ve been cheating on my iPad with a much older machine, the silver fox of writing tools – an old typewriter, a Remington Standard 10 to be exact, which I’ve nicknamed Remy.  Remy Qwerty when he’s being fresh.

Here’s my artistic picture with Remy, the silver fox, and me.

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Allow me to tell you the story of our humble beginnings…

For a long time, I’ve wanted an old-fashioned typewriter.  I had one when I was in middle school and I loved the whole process – feeling your fingers touch the keys, the sound of the metal key slapping the page, and of course, the ring of the bell when you reach the end of the page’s margin.  Sigh.  Sadly, my mom threw away that typewriter when it no longer worked.  Since then, I’ve been searching for another.

I found Remy in a very sad state (I’ve always been a sucker for hopeless causes).  A few weeks ago, I went out antiquing with my parents.  I know what you’re thinking, but it’s fun to stroll along aisles filled with junk until some long forgotten treasure catches your eye.

We were in an old farm-house, browsing antiques when my dad called me to the second floor.  It was raining lightly and the owner of the antique store had opened the windows on the second floor to let a breeze filter into the stuffy house.

There, on a small table by the window (and getting rained on), was Remy.  Originally on sale for $105, the price had been slashed to $40.  My mouth dropped open.  I slid my hands tentatively over the keys – some worked, some stuck – and looked back at my parents.  They didn’t have to hear the next words out of my mouth to know I wanted to buy it (side note: terrible poker face).  My mom, ever the bargain hunter, got the owner to drop another $5 from the sale and within 15 minutes we left with Remy, my wallet only $35 lighter.

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Fixing Remy

You may not be able to see in the picture above, but Remy was in a sad state – dirty, extremely dusty, rusted, broken, and had several keys that would stick.  Some people like to keep typewriters like this.  But I wanted to clean him up, polish him, and most importantly – get him to work again.  Otherwise, Remy would just be a fancy paperweight in my house…and I would only get to caress the keys instead of using them.  So, I worked on Remy (in my parents’ garage over then next several days) in steps.

Step 1 – Research Remy and how to fix/restore old typewriters:

When I saw Remy, I knew he was old.  But I had no idea that my silver fox was nearly platinum.  With research, I learned that Remy was built somewhere between 1908-1914 (most likely 1908/1909). :)

Then, I dug through the internet treasure troves to figure out how to make my new baby shine.

Step 2  – Lots of elbow grease…as well as the use of an air compressor, car wax, aluminum polish, Qtips, oil, rags, and time.

I used an air compressor (it turns you on that I used a power tool, doesn’t it?) to get rid of the troves of dust and dirt that Remy had inside of him.  I polished/cleaned him with aluminum polish and car wax.  Then, gently removed finger grime and other grossness from his keys.

Then it was time for the oiling. So, at first I went in gingerly with a paintbrush to lube up Remy’s mechanical insides.  My Dad saw and told me we were going to have to oil Remy up the way I butter and baste a Thanksgiving turkey (which is a lot).  After this Remy’s keys no longer stuck, the backspace worked, the bell could ring, but the carriage wouldn’t move – ugh!

So, more internet research (yes lovelies, you can use the internet for more than porn and finding funny memes)…and with the help of a shoe lace, we finally got the carriage to move.  Yay!  I just fitted Remy with a new ribbon, and I’m glad to report that everything works!

Here’s what Remy looks like now:

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On fixing and cleaning versus the full restoration (re-painting, etc)

Remy is an antique, and there seems to be two schools of thought on how to deal with antiques – 1) clean & fix when necessary, 2) bring it back to its former glory.

I could outfit him with new black paint on his body, redo the fine gold lettering on his body, or make his keys all one color…I’m sure he’d look brilliant if I did.  But, I can’t.

Why?  Because Remy is a survivor and his is old.  His scars, scrapped space bar, and oddly colored keys give him character.  More than that, all of these things show that he had a history, a life before I found him…and that should always be celebrated, in my opinion anyway. :)

Life With Bella – Transportation

Musings on life, by Bella – the cat-ish dog

Bella on transportation, also known as how to carry a bitch

Because of my delicate size and extreme cuteness, people often want to carry me around.  But don’t be too jealous, sometimes it’s a bit of a hassle as many people don’t know how to properly carry a bitch.  For all of you that don’t know, I’ve listed appropriate carrying positions below.

1.  Hip balance/My impression of a doggie purse

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This is an appropriate way to carry me.  It allows me to keep an eye on what’s going on (because, let’s face it – I am an excellent judge of character or danger) and it allows you to get me treats with your other hand….which you should definitely do.

 

 

 

2.  Across the chest/My head on your shoulder

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This is also a good way to carry me, as it allows me to give menacing glares to those behind us or smirk at those that wish they could be carried.

 

 

 

3.  Baby/I am a princess pose

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This is my favorite way of carrying a bitch.  It allows me the greatest comfort while still letting everyone know that I am a princess…hmmm I’m not sure which one of those things is more important.

Anyway, not all dogs like this pose.  But then again, not all dogs are fit to be divas. ;)

 

Picking dogs up is also apparently confusing.  Do not ever try to pick me up by my back legs – you’re making me look like a dog wheelbarrow and I will voice my displeasure.  If you do this – you sir, are an ass and you are not allowed to carry this bitch.

One lovely blogger award

One lovely blogger award

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This blog has been nominated for the one lovely blog award by Cupcakes and Popcorn and Vik Tory Arch.  Yay!  Thanks guys, you rock! :)

  • You must thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog.
  • You must list the rules and display the award.
  • You must add 7 facts about yourself.
  • You must nominate other bloggers
  • You must display the award logo and follow the blogger who nominated you.

Hmmm so 7 facts about myself…

  1.  I’m from the Northeast, but currently live in the greater DC area
  2. I’m a Pisces and yes, actually I do enjoy long walks on the beach (though there are no beaches close to DC.  Boo).
  3. I read and write smutty romance novels, though I’m not published yet.  Yet..
  4. I have an amusing and smart dog, Bella.
  5. I am a big foodie.  mmm food. Have you ever met someone who claims that they forget to eat?  Yeah, I never forget… :p
  6. I love to watch the Investigation Discovery Channel, specifically, Lt. Joe Kenda, Homicide Hunter.  He’s so awesome.
  7. One day, I will go to Bora Bora and swim in that beautiful ocean.  I’ll probably pee in the water too, but that’s between me and the fish.

The lovely blogs that I’m nominating, though honestly, I love all of the blogs that I follow.

  1. Life, Muse, and Coffee
  2. Prime Loki
  3. What Raina Reads
  4. Rachel Carrera
  5. April Wood
  6. Life with Catnip
  7. When the door closes
  8. Romance Bound
  9. Romance for the Beach
  10. Anna Bayes

 

Firsts Series – Part 3

In honor of this blog turning one in a few days, I’ve decided to revisit some of my other firsts…

First Series – The First One Who Got Away (and the tale of my most romantic, non-romantic night)

After my first epic heartbreak, I was well, obviously heartbroken – I moped, listened to sad songs, wrote in a journal, and turned to my small circle of friends in my study abroad program in Vienna.

I had three close guy friends (there’s a long and involved story on why I never really made friends with any of the girls.  Let’s just summarize and say I was different from many of them).  Anyway, let’s call my three guy friends – Maine, Seattle, and California.

Maine was my roommate and I traveled a good amount around Europe with Seattle.  Both were great guys and lovely friends.  But this isn’t a post about them.  This is a post about California (let’s call him Cal for short).

Like nearly everyone else in the program, Cal was a Junior and a full year older than me.  He, as well as Seattle and Maine, were like big brothers to me.  But the more I hung out with Cal, the more my feelings moved out of the realm of friendship and into the world of “something more.”

But Cal had a girlfriend back home and I have a solid rule that I’ve never broken – I do not go after a taken man.  So, no matter how my heart pounded when we hung out together, traveled together, sat next to each other in class, or studied for tests, I was determined never to let him know how my feelings had changed.  And I never did.

 

 The most romantic, non-romantic night

Well, I only studied abroad for one semester and it seemed like after November, the weeks flew by.  It wasn’t long before it was Cal’s last night in Vienna.  Cal, Seattle, their roommates, and I went out to dinner to celebrate his last night.  (Side note – one of my proudest moments was when our waiter asked me if I was from Germany when I spoke German. :) yay!  Though sadly, my abilities have lapsed since then.)

After dinner, we went back to Cal and Seattle’s apartment.  Seattle and the others went to bed around midnight.  Cal and I talked through the night about so many things – relationships, our homes, future plans, the terror of picking a major (this one was all me), regrets (I grinned and said I had none, but hey, I was still young), traveling, and how much we loved our semester in Europe.  We sat close together on the small sofa and I knew that despite what simmered below the surface, nothing would happen that night, as he was a good man and I was determined to be noble.  We poured our hearts out, tried to convince each other to move to the other’s respective coast (California is a West Coast boy and I’m an East Coast girl), and laughed until we couldn’t keep our eyes open any more.  When it was finally time to say goodnight, he asked to have one the barrettes I always wore in my hair and I didn’t hesitate to give it to him (as I am and will always be a hopeless romantic).

He went to his bed and I slept on the sofa.  He woke me when he left for the airport and I gave him one last hug before stumbling into the bed he vacated, snuggling into the sheets that were still warm.  That was the last time I saw him.  And so ended the most romantic, non-romantic night of my life (but obviously not the most romantic night of my life. :p).

We tried to stay in touch for a little while.  But life took over, as it tends to do.  We flew back to our respective coasts.  We rejoined our regular friends from college and talked a few times over the summer (he drunk-called me the night of his 21st birthday and I sadly missed the call).  Then we slowly lost track of each other.  We started new relationships, fell in love with new people, he graduated, I graduated, he started a life, I started mine, and our friendship faded to memories.

But don’t be sad…I wouldn’t be able call him the one who got away, if he hadn’t actually gotten away. ;)  Besides, loving someone is never something to regret or be sad over.  As Tennyson said – “tis better to have love and lost than never to have loved at all.”

I’ve recently loved and lost again, though the taste in my mouth is more sad this time than sweet.  Alas, I suppose that’s what happens when something you thought would last forever suddenly breaks (that’s a story for another day and one I probably won’t want to share for quite some time).  But it’s made me think back to the first time I really loved and lost, and of Cal.

So I raise my glass to Cal – I hope he has a great life, a lovely wife, the white picket fence, at least 2 cute kids, and a loyal dog.  :)

How about you – who was your first one who got away?  What’s your sweetest loved and lost story?