Saturday, November 21, 2009

Looking for a great way to boost word count?

The wildly popular NaNo Word Sprints are going on over on Twitter. It started out simple enough, with a couple of word wars on the main NaNoWriMo twitter. It's proven to be so popular that we've got a ton of people doing it, and I even volunteered to run a few myself during the day and when I'm writing. Before, it was just on the west coast time, which is exhausting for us east-coasters. 

Most common is 10, 20, 30, and 40 minute word sprints.  It's a great way to sprint through and get some fast words racked up and see how you compare to others. Some people are insane writers, one even managing to pull off over 1,000 words in just ten minutes!  Most people write at a more reasonable, less wrist-breaking pace.

It's fun, and be sure and check it out.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Squeaky new OS, and writing progress

A couple of days ago, I installed Windows 7 on my laptop. See, when I bought this thing, it had Vista on it, and I hated it. Oh, I could see the potential, but it's such a resource hog that doing anything was a big pain. Before I wiped it, it actually took ten minutes to shut down. We won't talk about how long it took to boot up.

Well, I found a deal online, where students with a .edu email address can get a copy of Windows 7 Home Premium or Windows 7 Professional for $30. For $30? Why the heck not. The reviews from friends who have used it have been good, so I decided to take the plunge.

Oh. Em. Gee.

It's what Vista SHOULD have been. It's fast, responsive, and shiny.  It does cool things, and my laptop is running the way its specs say it should.

It put me a little bit behind on my word count, setting everything up, but overall, I've installed a LOT of operating systems (some multiple times) and this was by far the smoothest, fasted install and setup yet. I'm very impressed, and for the first time, I'm going to give Micro$oft props for not blowing yet another OS.

On the NaNo front, last night I broke 40k.  My aim is 50k by the weekend, and to continue beyond as far as I possibly can. I'm getting into the meat of a new story, and things are really starting to roll.

I'm also competing with Snark.Gallant; we're running neck and neck, and I'm hoping to overtake him tonight. ;) Of course, he hasn't updated for the night, so the bastard has likely added a few more thousand. A worthy opponent indeed.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

With great inspiration, I write

Last night, I got inspired. You see, the night before last, I hada dream. It was a dream that hung with me all day, and I started thinking about it.

So I started writing. After a total 2.5 hours worth of writing? I'd jumped from 21,705 to 30,474. I hit my stride, and this story has exploded. It's not really related to my current NaNo, but I did the cheesy old trick of "meanwhile, in another part of the universe." This one, I fully expect to hit 50k before the month is over, so I'm keeping the words. To see my erratic performance this year, click the widget to open up my progress report.

I love this. This is how NaNoWriMo is supposed to feel. 8,776 words in 2.5 hours, so excited I can barely contain my enthusiasm or stop writing. I was up till 2 AM last night. That's what I missed. I will post an excerpt from the piece I'm working on, and tell you more about it as it gels soon. For now, I must WRITE.

Today, I'm about to embark upon the terrifying prospect of upgrading my computer from Windows Vista to windows 7. I found a deal that offers a copy of Windows Home Premium or Windows Professional to students for $30. So I've downloaded it, and now, all I have to do isfinish backing up the rest of my files. I'm uploading all my non-music stuff to dropbox (which, by the way, thanks to all of you who checked it out... thanks to those referrals, I now have 5 gigs of free storage instead of 2. It's going to take about five hours to upload all of my remaining photos, but they'll all be safely stored, and in no risk of erasure by the upgrade.

I'm moving all my music over to the desktop PC. It's got over 200 gigs... it can handle it. I love modern technology. I can't believe I'm sending over 12 gigs of music through the air to the PC nearby, while I sit here and type, and while I'm uploading pictures to another storage site. how awesome is that?

So I'm going to take advantage of my remaining hours of backups to write, write, write, and see how much further I can go.

And here, for your interest, is my progress towards my goal of 100k. I'm still a bit behind where I should be, but a couple more nights of writing like last night, and I should be caught up with no problem.

Let's see if we can't get a little less red in there, whaddya think?


Monday, November 09, 2009

Signs I might be a computer addict

I just bought a $50 mouse. No, seriously.  In all fairness, it claims to give 15 months worth of battery time, so I should make up the difference in battery usage.

You see, my old laptop mouse has taken a beating.  I've used it a great deal, and it gets knocked off the table a lot, so the right mouse button doesn't work well, and the left is starting to fail. It's also getting less responsive. So, the time came to buy a new one. 

First, I bought a belkin from Target. Public Service Announcement: Do not buy belkin products. That mouse won't work without a mousepad, which is useless for a laptop! If It can't work on my couch cushion, I don't need it.

So I splurged on a Logitech M505 in a very nice shade of red. Not only is it stylish, it's Logitech, and you just plain can't go wrong with Logitech stuff.

So far, I like it. It's fast, responsive, and doesn't care if I'm  using it on my jeans leg or the table. 

We'll see in 15 months if it lives up to its packaging about the battery life.

As for NaNo, let's see.

I  haven't written much in the past few days. I think the problem  has been that my husband has been home all week, thanks to my injured foot/ankle. That does not make for a creatively-inclined writing environment. In fact, he's been here ALL. The. TIME.  It's mental interference.  So, I'm taking today off for schoolwork and such, and this week I'm going to hit the writing hardcore and catch up to my word count deficit.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Back up your novel, RIGHT NOW!

One of the worst things that can happen to any artists is to lose your work to a corrupted file, a power outage, or storage device failure. It's happened to me several times, and now I back up my novel in several places.

1) I have Dropbox set up on my computer. It automatically syncs my files stored in its folder, without me even having to think about it.  I can access it across multiple computers, or log in online anywhere I have net access. 2 GB free. If you get referrals (such as with my link right here) you can earn another full GB of free storage. They also offer paid accounts up to 100 GB, I think it is. 

2) USB stick.  I keep a 2 GB drive handy at all times.  It's nice to have, but they're losable. In fact, I'm missing one now, and it's annoying me.

3) Google Docs - it tends to muck up your formatting, but it's perfect for writing from anywhere, and making backups. better to have to redo your tabs than to lose it completely, eh? It's also great if you want to share your writing with a few people for critique or collaboration.

4) Backup to another partition on my laptop.

5) Email it to myself.

Backing up is vital... I lost over 30k on my original NaNoWriMo novel, and I'm missing about 20k on the one from two years ago.  It makes me very annoyed, and if I'd been more diligent about my backups... I'd still have it.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A little short on my daily goal

Yesterday, I bell a bit short of my goal.  I'm at 6,026, and I was planning on being at 6,670 last night.  That adds a bit more to what I need to have done, but that I can do.  I managed to insert a gratuitous sex scene, but I think it's actually going to advance the plot a little; add some conflict early on (and not the kind you think, either). 

Just to share a little, here's a short snippet of what I've written so far (in all its unedited glory). One of my MCs is an albino; however, I'm trying to make her representation realistic; albinos have serious vision problems, as a result of the lack of pigment in their eyes, and glasses don't help, either. So she's actually mostly blind. And magic hasn't automatically fixed it, either; her spells help, but are imperfect. 

   Sara stretched and reached for the ceiling, trying to work the kinks out of her neck and back.  She had been sitting for hours, poring over one of her beloved texts, nose to book, the only way she found it possible to read.  The spectacles that should have been on her face were lying by the book.  They gave her headaches, and they didn’t really help her much, anyway, but her instructors insisted she have them.  They were mostly just fashion accessories at this point.

    “Still moldering away in this library?” Larath said,patting her on the shoulder and flopping noisily into the chair. The librarian glared as he scraped chair against floor and knocked three of her books onto the floor.

    “Larath, you need to be more careful!” she admonished, stooping to gather up the books.

    “Sorry, sis, I’m just not good with this stuff.”  He thumbed through one of the tomes, sniffing and setting it down with a shake of his head.  “Give  me the sawdust in the salle over the musty dusty in here any day.”

    She shook her head.  “You’re lucky you have me around, you know, otherwise you'd be a complete ignoramus. How did you even manage to pass your classes?”

    Larath grinned at her.  “Easy.You helped me.”

    She rolled her eyes.  “I shouldn’t have.  Maybe you would have learned something other than how to swing a sword.  Speaking of which, aren’t you supposed to be practicing for your final practicum?”

    He shook his head. “I was supposed to, but instructor Elias managed  to sprain his ankle, so the session was cancelled. I’ve got the rest of the day off!”  he stretched and leaned back in his chair.  He pinwheeled his arms wildly as the chair overbalanced and nearly toppled over, dumping him into the floor. He seized the table and steadied himself. 

    Sara shook her head again. “You’re hopeless. Get out of here before you tear the place down, or get me kicked out of here. I’ve got to finish this.”

    “Nuh uh. I’m here to make sure you eat, young lady. A little bird told me yiou’ve been here *all* day, and haven’t stopped once for anything to eat. If you fall over from starvation, you’ll never have the energy to finish your exams. Or stay up to study for them.”

    She sighed. “But I just have a few more pages--”

    He grabbed her arm, closed the book, and pulled her up to her feet. “No way. You're coming with me, now, while lunch is still hot, so you don’t end up with a bowl of stewed leftovers.” 

    Sara grabbed her cloak and slung it over her shoulders. She murmured a few arcane syllables, twisted her fingers, and pulled the hood of the cloak over her head. “Alright, alright, I’m going.”  She let him guide her through the tables, thankful that this time, at least, she wouldn’t end up with another bruised thigh when some thoughtless ass forgot to push his chair under the table.

    “Sara! Sara!” someone called.  She looked back to see the librarian’s indistinct shape, glowing, waving something high in the air.  “Wait!”  The librarian caught up to her, and the glow faded to see the blurry human form.  She blinked to try and clear her vision, but the spell had malfunctioned somehow, and the blur remained. 

    I need to work on that.  Still not handling the far to near transition well, Sara thought to herself. 

    “Sara, dear, you forgot your spectacles,” the librarian said, shoving the metal framed lenses into Sara’s hand.  Sara smiled, swallowing the retort, and crammed the spectacles  onto her face. The librarian smiled, and bowed, then scurried off to her desk.

    “I thought those didn’t help?” Larath said as they walked out of the library.

    “They don’t. No one seems to believe me when I tell them that, though, so they keep insisting I wear them. They give me a headache, but if I don’t wear them, the headache I get from the constant nagging to put them on is worse. So I close my eyes, or just grin and bear it.”

    “That is so cool. I wish I could see with my eyes closed,” he commented, holding open a door for her.

    “I wish I could see more with them open.” 

Monday, November 02, 2009

NaNoWriMo 2009: First day's progress: slow but steady

I didn't get as much of a boost as I was hoping for, this go round, but I've set a comfortable pace that I think I can actually maintain.

Last night's trauma left me with a pitiful start: 200 words by the time I went to bed. In all fairness, it was the Lortab that left me drowsy and unable to focus, that combined with general exhaustion from a long day and pain from the sprained ankle.

Today has been a frustrating day dealing with malfunctioning forums, although I have been incredibly impressed by their performance thus far. Failures to load aside, they're staying up and reasonably zippy, given that this is our highest traffic day, and in years past, this always meant CRASHING or completely unusable.

I wrote in drips and drabs, starting and stopping my writing timer so I could keep track of how much actual time I wrote. Most of it happened after 9, when the girls went to bed. Final results?

60 minutes of writing, 3,737 words total. I need 3,334 per day to reach my ultimate goal of at least 100k. My full goal: 100k or a complete novel. Preferably at least the former, combined WITH the latter. I'd really like a complete novel, more than a particular word count, so if I hit 90k and it's done, I'll be happy.

i'm starting the story slowly, with the interactions between my two MC. They're twins (don't groan, please). One is albino... but she suffers from the same maladies real world albinos do. She's damn near blind, and has to wear a cloak any time she's outside, or she'll get a severe sunburn. This is a fantasy, so she's learning to use magic to compensate, but it's imperfect, and she's definitely a bit handicapped.

Her brother is the protective sort, very outgoing and physical, she's introverted and academic.

I've also introduce the other MC, the third member of their Hunter's Triad. This thing really has a bit of a YA feel this first chapter, even though they're 22, because they haven't yet become Journeymen, and are still students. That's definitely not the focus I'm going for, though. They'll be out in the world and their age and student status will be left behind.

I'm trying to decide if I want three POVs or not... there will be at least two, Sara and Larath, but I'm trying to decide if I want to pull L'varen in. I guess it'll depend on how strongly he comes through for me. Right now, he's a bit more clownish than I intended. He'll get more serious, I hope.

Things are flowing smoothly, a good sign. I was already having trouble finding my characters last year at this point. They're coming through, and already feeling real.

A bit about them: They are both 22, and living under the shadow of very famous, skilled parents. Part of the point of this story is going to be them finding their own identity, outside of a famous family, and making a name for themselves. Sara is not as concerned with this as Larath; she's content with her books and her magic. He is more ambitious, and is determined to be a greater Hunter than his father, who is one of the best. i'm trying to design them to be not polar opposites, but complementary. They're close. I'm going to introduce more friction as the story continues, because I want their growing independence from each other and their parents to be a strong focus until the middle of the story, when it's going to become more about them dealing with the consequences of their family's past... through no fault of their own.

So, tell me about your stories. If you're doing NaNo this year, what is your novel about? What genre? How has your first day gone? I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Of sprained ankles and Trick or Treating

Yesterday started great. We went down to Cordele, GA to ride Thomas the Tank Engine (the real one.. full sized passenger train, not just the dippy little thing at Six Flags).

It was an absolute blast, although my husband almost had a seizure and the staff freaked and called the ambulance. It was more embarrassing than anything.

We got home, carved pumpkins, went trick or treating. All went well, until we left the last house, and started walking to the car to go to the next neighborhood. I put Elisabeth on my back, and lo and behold, a pothole grabbed my leg. I went down, candy and Elisabeth went everywhere and I started hollering... fortuitously, I fell down in front of a freakin' golf cart. They helped me over, and rode me down to my car, and Nathan came to get me and take me to the ER.

Four hours later, I've got a really bad sprain, (yes, crutches) I can't walk, can't do much but sit around.

Ah well. Necessity is the mother of invention, and it won't be that long and I'll be back on my feet. The good news is, this means I've got lots of ass time for writing and modding the forums. Naturally, I've done neither this morning.

Back to the grind.

Oh, and last night, I did manage to get 200 words in before the painkillers knocked me down.