Tag: nanowrimo

People I Think Are Quite Keen: Richard and Jennifer Crawford

People I Think Are Quite Keen: Richard and Jennifer Crawford

(What is this? An Introduction)

So, it’s Thursday. Who’s going to get the first nod as a person I happen to think is quite keen? Well, it’s actually two, partly to make up for the fact that I’ve just decided to start this, thus I missed last Thursday, and partly, they’re married, so it’s fitting to honor them together.

So, the first entry in the people I think are quite keen goes to my good friends Richard and Jennifer Crawford.

I’ll start with Richard. I’ve known him since 2006, and have been herding cats, err, Wrimos with him in the Sacramento area since 2007. He’s the best damn co-ML anybody could ask for. He’s also a really good writer with a wonderfully wicked sense of humor. (Don’t believe me? Just go peer at his bibliography page. Anybody that writes zombie stories about Santa’s elves is my kind of person.)

Ah, but that’s not all Richard does. He’s also an excellent code monkey, keeping systems running. Always good, and it means he’s inclined to a technical bent as well. This comes in handy at times, such as the wonderfulness of the Virtual Plotbox, a virtual rendition of the black container I carry to Sacramento NaNoWriMo get-togethers. This means he’s a geek.

Lastly, he’s my GM. I’ve never actually played at a table with people and real dice before, but now I’m getting the chance. So very awesome. Add to that the randomness he posts to his twitter feed, and it’s really a shame not a lot of people know about Richard, because he’s just that awesome.

Ah, but somebody as cool as Richard needs somebody just as cool to be married to him, and that’s where Jennifer comes in. Jennifer is quite amazing. She’s a bit of a tech geek too, but more to the point, she’s a singer, a hell of a baker (she made Richard Dalek cupcakes for his birthday once and a Cthulhu cake another time, and does a wonderfully tasty kitty litter cake), and an artiste with the knitting needles. Totally an amazing woman.

With all this, she still manages to keep Richard and I on task when it comes to keeping the region organized and she’s decided to join us in writing every November. She’ll never share, but I consider it awesome she just comes and writes.

She loves cats. (Richard does too, but Jen does especially.) Between the two of them, they’re host to six furballs — Rosemary, Azrael, Nutmeg, Rupert, Ingrid, and Sherman — and manages to find the time and attention for all of them as well as happily posting their pictures to the internet, which is required. Cat people are generally good people in my book.

Plus they are both big-time geeks. Don’t believe me? Go look at their posts on the Dalek invasion at their house: Infested! (Richard) and The Doom That Awaits You All (Jennifer). Such geeks. Such wonderful, wonderful geeks.

My kind of people, and I’m glad I know both of them.

Want more of either/both of them?
Richard can be found at his blog and @underpope, his twitter.
Jennifer hangs out on her blog and @jenipurr, her twitter.

most awesome birthday weekend ever

most awesome birthday weekend ever

So yeah, this weekend went really well. If I had to ring in the start of another lap around the sun, this is about the way I want to do it. Bear with me, for long kat is long.

It started at work Friday, where there was cake. We do this for birthdays at work recently, but one of my co-workers made sure there was cake for me. It was supremely good cake, too.

Saturday started out a bit meh, as I had to go do schoolwork in the morning, but once I was done with that, I headed out to Folsom, stopping along the way to treat myself to In-and-Out for a hamburger as my celebratory birthday weekend. Yum.

Then, at Folsom, we had a party. It was supposedly for those not going to SF the following night to have fun, but they decided to let me come and celebrate my birthday. One of our Wrimos even baked me a cake. This was sweet.

And then to top it off, Saturday was also the 112th Big Game, which I was fairly certain Stanford was going to win. But my Bears somehow came out of nowhere, had the score close at halftime, and then proceeded to first pull away, and then let Stanford back into it before sealing the deal with an interception. It was Cal Cardiac Football at its finest, and so I got a nice surprise gift — an Axe. It was pretty funny because I was so not writing at the party, but listening to my game, and towards the end, the feed started cutting in and out, which made it hard to follow. The feed cut out just as Toby Gerhart tried to win the game for Stanford, and didn’t come back up until I heard the word “INTERCEPTION!” in my headphones and was trying to figure out what had just happened and whether that meant my Bears had won the game.

And then there was Sunday. Oh god, what can I say about Sunday? Besides the fact that San Francisco is probably my most favorite city on the planet and I love any chance I get to visit, the Night of Writing Dangerously was way more fun than I was expecting. It started simply:

It’s about 5:40 in the evening. The scene, a round table in a ballroom high above California Street in San Francisco. Seated there are seven people from Sacramento: myself, Richard, his wife Jennifer, Jenny, Candace, Temperance, and Stephanie. There’s some idle chitchatting about where people are and stuff like that. In front of the room, the bell is introduced — you come ring the bell when you’ve become a winner at NaNoWriMo (that is, hit the 50k mark). And that’s when the following happened:

Temperance: “So, Kat, you going to hit 50k tonight?”
me: “You’re kidding, right? I’m nowhere close.”
Temperance: “You’re in the forties, no?”
me: “Well, yeah, a bit over 43k.”
Temperance: “There you go. You can hit 50k tonight.”
me: “I’m not so sure about this idea.”
Temperance: “Look, how many words do you have?”
me: “About forty-three five.”
Temperance: “That’s about 6500 words. We’ll not count this hour. But six — we’ll not count seven — eight, nine, ten. That’s four hours. You only have to write about 1500 words an hour.”
Rest of table: “Yeah, c’mon, Kat, you can do it.”
me: “Okay, fine, you all. I’ll try.”
me (thought): This is going to be impossible and I’m going to fail and feel rotten at the end of it. Ah well, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Table: *cheering*

So I spend most of the evening sitting and writing frantically, although there were several breaks to take advantage of the candy pile and the hosted bar (too bad I don’t drink, but there was plenty of ginger ale and soda) and eat something resembling dinner. Oh yeah, and there were the most crazy donuts I’ve ever had with toppings like Cocoa Puffs and Nilla Wafers and Oreo cookies and Butterfingers and …the list goes on and on. Also, I went and took my author photo.

But most of the time I was writing. It was a write-a-thon after all. And after frantically typing all evening, writing a grand total of 6,481 words — a personal NaNo daily best — this happened.

Later that evening, about 10:15 PM:
Jason (peering over my shoulder): “So did you make it?”
me: “Give me a second, I just put it in the wordcounter.”
NaNo website: *loading*
Everybody: *waits*
NaNo website: katster has 50,182 words.
me: “Wait, what, I made it? I made it!”
Table (and Jason): “Go ring that bell!”
me: “Give me a second to recover and bask in my glory.”
*moment*
me: “Alright, now I’m going to go find Sarah [the coordinator of this glorious event] and let her know that I made it before I ring the bell so she doesn’t have to come frantically running.” [Backstory: People had been ringing the bell all evening, leaving poor Sarah frantically running to the stage. I felt bad, so I wanted to make sure she didn’t have to run.]
*By sheer random coincidence, Sarah walks by at just that moment*
me: “Hey Sarah! Just to warn you, I hit 50k!”

…and so I nicely followed Sarah to the podium where I grasped that bell and rung it just about as hard as anybody had that evening.

And the rest of the night I wore a crown on top of my Cal hat and a manic grin. Kinda like this:

me, after it’s all said and done. Photo by my friend Richard

All in all, the best birthday weekend ever. Thanks to everybody who helped me make it to the Night of Writing Dangerously — cards should go out next week.

And no, I don’t know how I’m going to top this next year.

A quick bit of math

A quick bit of math

If I can manage to write 4000 words/day for the next three days, it’s entirely possible I’ll hit the 50k Sunday night. Since nobody’s entered the betting pool, I suppose that will have to do.

(Besides, I don’t think I’m going to write 4k a day for the next three days. I have a ton and a half of other crap to do and no time to do it in.)

Other than that, slow day, which I needed, considering it’s pedal to the metal all the way to Thanksgiving.

And that’s about it.

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Halfway Point

Halfway Point

I finished my 11k challenge for the weekend, and now have somewhere just north of 35,000 words. I’m shooting to hit 50 next Sunday night, but I’m not entirely sure 15k in 7 days is entirely realistic. So we’ll leave that alone other than to open the betting pool for when I’m going to hit 50,000 words.

In the challenge to write a blog post every day, I’m on track (other than moving the one I posted to LJ over to the blog because my server was down for maintenance). The problem is that my life is boring and I’m stuck for things to write about.

So hey, if you’re reading this, say hey and give me some ideas for what you want to hear me say. I need help here.

But the news is, despite a bit of a rough start, the month’s on task. Now to just see if I can get some focus on my GIS project.

A Retaken Mint Plot

A Retaken Mint Plot

Yeah, that’s *my* mint farm! (Or it might just be an anagram for my first and last names.)

Anyway, I need eight more donations of ten dollars each to get to The Night of Writing Dangerously, thanks to a few awesome friends. Can you help by donating?

Also, since a picture’s worth a thousand words, here’s my wordcount per day for this year’s NaNoWriMo excitement:

My wordcount!

The blue line is my wordcount per day, the red line is the rolling average. Yeah, it’s very choppy. But I’m writing! I just passed 22k! I keep trucking!

vroom?

vroom?

Another post just to have something up. I promise you all that I’ll try to write you a longer one tomorrow — well, after I do some other things I’ve been slacking on.

I’m feeling a little better emotionally, but I’ve got a bit of a cold, so my head hasn’t completely been in the game. I still remain two days ahead of where I need to be in NaNoWriMo land, so that’s good.

Yeah. And I’ll name a character after you if you donate some scratch here. C’mon, please?

[PS: Take a wild guess who forgot to change the timezone on her blog back after the timechange last weekend? Am going through and fixing all my November posts now.]

I hate spammers and other flotsam

I hate spammers and other flotsam

I deliberately set the blog to email me when new comments are made. There’s three reasons for this madness:

  1. That’s the way LJ comments are handled, and I’ve liked being able to see them
  2. It allows me a quick response if there’s a comment that needs to be handled in a particular fashion
  3. It allows me to see when I’m getting whacked with a load of spam

In regards to point #3, it did that job well, as looking at my mailspool showed me that last night’s post had been hit by several spammers overnight. I don’t know why Akismet failed so badly, but it leaves me in a bit of a dilemma. I want to leave trackbacks on so that I can see when blogs are linking me, but most of the spam that gets through the defenses is trackback spam. And I really wasn’t overly happy clearing out that mess today.

Anyway, it’s just a point. Spammers are lower than scum and will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.

***
If you haven’t guessed, it’s not only NaNoWriMo month, but because I am absolutely totally and completely out of my gourd, I’m also doing Blog Posting Month. So that means one a day of these things every day in November. Of course, I could cheat and give you my cumulative word count every day, but that hardly seems fair.

So I’ll guess I’ll turn this over to those of you that actually read this thing on a regular basis. What would you like me to address? I could use some ideas for days when I can’t come up with my own. Feel free to drop them in comments.

***

As I mentioned before, I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year, like I do every year. And the last couple years, they’ve been doing a fundraising event called the Night of Writing Dangerously over in the Bay Area. This year’s event is the night after my birthday (yep, November kid) and I’d kind of like to go this year. Especially since the other November event in the Bay Area I’d like to attend is at the Breadbox Stanford this year, and tickets will be impossible because Stanford’s capacity has shrunk majorly.

The problem with going to the Night of Writing Dangerously is that I need to come up with $200 as a donation. Now, I’m all for giving money to the folks at NaNo HQ, because they do some marvelous work at encouraging people to write (particularly kids – I love their Young Writers Program). Also, they make my life easier when it comes to organizing the region. But, $200 is out of my range this year.

So this is where I turn to y’all. If any of you wants to (note that you do not have to, these are hard times for everybody and I’m doing this as a longshot), I’d love for you to donate some money to NaNo so that I can go.

So if you want to help, you can donate here. If you do, I appreciate it. If you can’t, well, I understand. These are hard times.

It would be nice to go, though.

Anyway, word count is at 5703; am going to try to get to 6000 before I got to bed tonight. Other than that, nothing exciting is going on.

I hate Mondays.

I hate Mondays.

Mondays are hard days. Not only are they the start of the work week, but they seem to serve as a reminder of just what kind of failure I am. I mean, I get up, I go to work, and I work. But I know deep inside that I’m only working three days and not five, and that it’ll be another month of struggling to pay my bills, another month of living in my parents house, another month that I’m stuck with what appears to be no way out.

And then after work, I slog my way through the commute traffic to school. Let me get one thing straight. I hate my Monday night class. The only time I was happy tonight in that class was when I thought I might have a chance to slag the instructor in an evaluation. (Turns out, it was an eval for a different prof. When asked if we were doing it, he said something along the lines of ‘I’ve got tenure; I don’t have to do it.’) I’m seriously thinking of taking a withdraw in that class because (a) I don’t think I’m going to pass and (b) I really don’t want to take that class over. The teacher is disorganized and sometimes you’re lucky if you can find a hint to solving some of the labs in the notes. Today’s boiling point moment was when he decided that today we were going to have a quiz — on stuff he was introducing today. Somehow we talked him off that idea, but still. (And yes, for those who have been following my journal, this is my SQL class.)

But this adds into my feelings of inadequacy because I’m mainly taking classes as a way to keep from paying my student loans, because God knows I don’t have the money to cover that bill too. I’d really rather have a full time job where I’m paying down the loans and thus gain the ability to take a semester off. I could have really used it this year — my stress levels have been through the roof this fall. (And now it’s November and I must be completely frakking insane.)

Anyway, yeah, there’s this complete feeling of inadequacy that’s been eating at me and Mondays are just the night when it comes most to the forefront. I just keep slipping deeper and deeper into the hole, and I don’t know how to get out. This is not a happy feeling to deal with.

I mean, objectively, I know I’m not a failure. Emotionally, though, it’s hard to see beyond what appears to be crumbling ruins. There’s a bit of ‘I was supposed to be someone!’ in my head that plays into nights like this; Mondays just bring it a bit closer to the surface.

***

In happier news, the NaNo wordcount stands at 5564, and I wrote this paragraph, which I’m sorta proud of. It comes in the middle of a reporter’s puff-piece on my book’s major villain:

After some pleasantries, we sat down to business. The Congressman was pleasant but undeniably brusque about some parts of his life, such as the much-publicized divorce from his wife of thirty years during his first term in Congress. The mention of her brings an immediate frown to his face. “Rosalie and I had a difference of opinion,” he said. “That and the strains of my freshman year in the House led to an amicable split. There is no story here.” When pressed about comments his wife made about him ‘not being the man I married’, Breen just shrugs and says, “Well, isn’t that what most women say when they want a divorce? He’s not the man I married? What does that mean, anyway?”

fried

fried

So it’s November. November means it’s NaNoWriMo month, which means that I’m running around like a crazy person. Then I stupidly said, “Ah why not, I’ll update my blog every day this month. It’s not like I don’t have enough to do.” Since I’m sure there’s folks out there that want to keep me honest, guess I’d better get the month started.

Anyway, it was a good day. The kickoff was nicely attended, and I got a good chunk of writing done. I added another six hundred words at the write-in we did for TV. I haven’t watched the clip yet, so I don’t know how much of me made it in, but my highly awesome co-ML, , got interviewed and didn’t do so bad. (Ah, here’s the clip. I’m in the background a lot.)

But the combination of staying up way late for write-in, and then getting up way early for the morning write-in, alongside the timechange, is just making my brain go *splat*. And since that means I’m not coherent, that means it should be bedtime.

But I have nearly four thousand words, and I saw a nice sunset. It was a good day.

Back from the Bay Area…

Back from the Bay Area…

At work, trying to get things done. There’s an interesting concept.

Anyway, let’s begin with a picture:

I am absolutely sure that isn’t what they meant, but I got a pretty good chuckle out of it.

So, I went to the Bay Area. Things I did:

  • Went to the Office of Letters and Light (the folks who run NaNoWriMo) to sign my ML form for the coming year. I may be the only ML who will do it that way.
  • Drove to ‘s place; got smothered in kisses by Zoe, who is my second most favorite dog in the world after my own. Also, forgot to take the greenies wrapper out of my pocket after I opened them to give to doggies, which led Zoe to keep sniffing my pocket hopefully that there would be a second treat. Also, saw chickens and got a slice of awesome bread that made.
  • Got back on the freeway, drove back to 680 and made the loop around into the South Bay, as 880’s traffic can get really bad. Stopped in Milpitas to kill time; found disgusting bathrooms and that picture in the Borders there.
  • Went to the BASFA meeting because (a) I’ve been wanting to go and (b) the UK TAFF delegate was supposed to be there. Alas, ran afoul of the air travel gods and failed to get out of Seattle until 5:30, which meant that he was too exhausted when he got here to make the trip down to the meeting. So sad! But other than that, I had a good time, even if the meeting went way longer than I expected.
  • Got back in the car, and drove home mostly without incident, although I got slightly lost in Concord/Walnut Creek/Pleasant Hill looking for caffeinated goodness, which probably cost me a half hour. Paid my bridge toll in dollar coins, which I think weirded out the attendant a little. (Why did I have dollar coins? Well, see, I give TAFF delegates shiny gold coins.)
  • Got home at 1:30 AM; got back up and went to work this morning

I think that’s about it. I don’t know when the next time I’ll make a trip over — finances are kinda tight. Folks are trying to talk me into showing up at Silicon, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I’m hoping for a Big Game trip, myself, but again, money’s tight, and getting a ticket to Big Game at Stanford’s breadbox is difficult.

That’s about it. Guess it’s time to go back to work, now that I figured out why I was critfailing my HTML roll.

katster’s handy fix-it-down and do-it-to-yourself type tips for winning NaNoWriMo with your sanity (mostly) intact…

katster’s handy fix-it-down and do-it-to-yourself type tips for winning NaNoWriMo with your sanity (mostly) intact…

katster’s handy fix-it-down and do-it-to-yourself type tips for winning NaNoWriMo with your sanity (mostly) intact…

This is a reprint of an article I put in my LJ last year.

The first and most important is that “It’s Nano. Embrace the suck.” (This is actual advice I gave last year to the Sacramento Nanoers. It’s advice I will be giving again this year. “Embrace the suck” has become the unofficial Sactown Nano motto.) Authors are not the most objective when it comes to their work, and will go on and on about how much the book sucks. Granted. It’s Nano; you’re writing 50k words in one month. Of course it’s going to suck. If you embrace the suck, it makes it that much easier to get through it.

Two, it really does help to write a bit each day. Actually dividing it out shows that one needs to write approximately 1,667 words in a day; Chris Baty and the other folk at NaNo HQ suggest two thousand words a day so that you can have slack for days when you absolutely cannot write. But try to get a few words down every day. Whether it’s three or three thousand, every word is one step closer to that magical 50k. (That said, I’m shooting for 2,500 words/day this year. I have to get on a plane and go back east before the month ends, and I want to be done before I get on that plane.)

Three, do not go back and edit. If you can avoid it, do not go back at all. Because seeing text on the screen seems to draw what Chris Baty calls “the internal editor.” You do not want the internal editor to show up! It makes it that much harder to make it through 50k. This ties into my first point about embracing the suck, because the internal editor is the guy mumbling that your work sucks, and well, if you just change this word to that word, and delete that sentence…the internal editor wants you to get *rid* of words, and that’s fatal when you’re trying to make word count. Lock the internal editor in a box, and don’t let him out until May at the earliest. June’s better.

Four, get started. Write as much as you can while you’re still bright-eyed and raring to work. Because it will slog later in the month, as the rest of the world, who doesn’t understand this whole Nano thing, will start making demands on your time, and you’re also going to hate this writing thing and curse whatever deities you believe in about letting you think you could actually do this. That’s natural. Plus, if you get behind on word count early, it’s somewhat discouraging. I know this one well because I didn’t get started until November 8th in 2005. I still managed to win, but that’s because I’m a fast writer, and the story suddenly just avalanched onto the page. I do not recommend this technique to anyone.

Five, use nasty tricks to get your word count. Is your character baking cookies? List out all the ingredients. Trying to figure out what to order at a cafe? List the menu. Another great one that was given at the Sac Nano meet and greet last year was “When in doubt, describe.” Description eats word count like nothing else. And if all you feel like writing that day is “I hate this; what got into my mind?”, go ahead and write it into the file. Yeah, it’ll end up a bit disjoint. That’s okay. Your inner editor is locked in a box, and when you let him out in May June, he can take stuff like that out. Right now, all you care about is word count, and that sentence is eight words closer to it. If you write it a dozen times, suddenly, you’re 96 words closer to your word count. Plus, it’s a good frustration reliever. Also, RaBiChi, from the Sactown Nano group reminds me: Eschew compound words! Don’t shove words together! For example, it’s word count, not wordcount! Another suggestion to think about would be to get rid of all your contractions. But do not take this to extremes…unless you want to sound unnatural, that is.

Six, you don’t have to write in chronological order. There’s a neat invention on the computer called “cut and paste”, which you can use to move chunks of your novel around later. (Don’t do it in November. That’s dangerously close to editing.) If you have to write chronologically, but you can’t think of a scene, write “And then something happens” and go to a scene you know about. Remember, style doesn’t count for much anything in Nano.

Seven, it isn’t Nano until you kill somebody in your novel. In 2005, I killed a minor character, but it lead to wonderful things happening. Also, I found out I can get in the mind-set of a sociopath. It’s not a good place to be, but it makes the character that much more believable. Just to have more fun, I started 2006 off with a mass murder. And if you’re looking at me like I’m insane, folks at the meetup last year suggested being even more drastic, like killing your main character. Yeah, it seems insane, but death scenes take up lots of word count. And if you have to kill a few kittens along the way, well, at least you’re just doing it on paper. (You *are* doing it only on paper, right?)

Eight, if you haven’t grasped it from everything else I’ve said, your mantra is “Word count. Word count. Word count.” Whatever you do, just keep putting words on paper, and trust that your brain knows what it’s doing when it comes to this writing thing. I once saw a sticker on a friend’s laptop that read, “You have 213 bones in your body. Surely one of them must be creative.” Trust that creative bone, and keep trudging.

Nine, ignore those punks who write their entire Nano in a week. They’re overachievers. Or they have *way* too much time on their hands. You’re not in competition with anybody unless you want to be. (That said, competition is sometimes a good way to get your creative juices flowing.)

Ten, if you have the time, find a local Nano group and hang with them. Sometimes, just knowing there are other actual people out there suffering under the same delusion that they could write 50k words in a month makes it that much easier to go from delusion to reality. Plus, there’ll be folks who have done it before, and they’ll offer you nasty tricks on making word count and support when you cry that 50k is just too much! (Seriously, the Sactown gang is what got me through Nano the last couple years.)

Eleven, you’ve won just by attempting this thing. The word count is immaterial. So what if you only get 15k or 30k down before you run out of steam? Yeah, it’s not 50k, but it’s still an accomplishment. 15k is 30%. 30k is 60%, which is more than half. It’s an awfully big commitment to write a novel in November, and if you manage anything towards it, that in itself is an accomplishment. That said, it feels nice when Nano declares that you’ve written 50k, even if bells and whistles and confetti are only going off in your mind.

And that’s pretty much all of my Nano tips. If you know any others, feel free to share in comments.

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