Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

Projects: Cooking, drinks, and writing

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I’ve been asked a lot lately what I’ve been doing since I graduated while I wait to leave for Belize. My usual answer: “Just sitting around.” In all honesty though, that’s not true (it’s just way easier than an actual explanation). I’m always doing something, whether it’s learning a new recipe, researching Belize, writing my story, or any number of the projects I cook up in my brain. There’s hardly a day when I’m not trying to get something done. And really, isn’t that the way it should be?

So lately I’ve been working on my April Camp NaNoWri Mo writing project. It’s going REALLY REALLY slowly. But I haven’t forced myself to sit down and write as often as I should, so it’s really my fault. I’ve gotten close to 9k words so far. Hopefully I’ll be able to catch up 11000 words in the next ten days, but I doubt it.

On the other hand, another project I’ve been working on IS successful. Since I’ll be gone and my boyfriend will have to teach himself to cook, he asked me to write up a recipe book for him that can help give him ideas and pointers. So, after only about 4 total days of working on it, it’s over 9k words (longer than the NaNo project I’ve been working on for 20 days…) and around 70 pages of recipes. I’m excited to give it to him!

Finally, since I’ve been making a cookbook, I have been finding a bunch of new recipes that I want to try. So today I made Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars. They’re in the freezer solidifying right now, but the warm melty bite I got was delicious! Take a look:

PB&J Bars. After freezing them I’m still not super happy with the jelly texture– too liquidy. Need something a bit more substantial to hold bars together. Also needed to grease foil a lot more, took a lot of work to get them out.

And after dinner, I decided to make a big-kid drink (because… I can). This is my ‘Cup o’ Candy’; 1 1/2 cups cranberry juice, 1/8 cup lemon juice, and 2 jiggers of white rum blended with ice in a shaker, poured over 1/2 jigger of rum in a glass rimmed with chia seeds and brown sugar, drizzled with grenadine syrup and topped with 1/2 jigger of rum. You know those delicious dark red gummy lifesavers? It tastes exactly like that. This drink is dangerous!

Tasted amazing, especially chia seeds ūüôā

By the way, be looking out for more baby shower crafts– a friend is having her baby shower next month! I’ll also be thinking up graduation crafts (presents and party ideas) for my boyfriend’s graduation in a few weeks!

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Playing House

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a serious “Life Lessons” post frankly because I couldn’t think of anything to add. Sure, I’ve been keeping myself busy with little projects here and there, but I don’t want every post on this blog to be about a new cooking adventure, my writing, or the craft projects I’ve been doing. This started out as a blog to talk about advice and my own learning about how to “be an adult”, and I want to make sure it stays true to that topic.

To tie up some loose ends:

  1. No I did not meet my March writing goal. I didn’t even get halfway there. I’m having some existential issues with books two and three and also rethinking my editing of book 1, so I got sidetracked from the writing part. I signed up for Camp Nano this month, so we’ll see if I can meet my 30k word goal.
  2. I have been busy with projects. Cooking is the main one; I recently prided myself on making jello shots in clementine skins, jalapeno poppers, cheese sticks, and a veggie pizza that actually holds together. In the crafts department, I made a towel robe out of oversized towels for my boyfriend, but after sizing it to him I need to go back and cut it WAY down (apparently when I don’t see him I think he’s a giant…). ** I’ll post some photos in another blog**
  3. I am currently house/pet sitting for my parents while they are out-of-town. Which is the inspiration for this blog.

The Grown-Up Test aka House-sitting.

So my parents are off in Europe for two weeks to do the second part of the Camino de Santiago. They walked the first part last year and will do the last part next year. So, while they are gone, I essentially am the caretaker of the house; care for the cats, make sure the house doesn’t get destroyed by the cats, do all the cooking, cleaning, and maintenance, and in general keep things going like normal. Here are some things I’ve been learning in the past week or so:

  1. Going to the grocery store is actually fun. I can honestly say that I usually HATE grocery shopping. It’s always crowded, the prices are always more than I want to pay, I always forget to buy something, and I always feel slightly judged by the cashier for buying beer (plus the inevitable “you can’t be old enough for this, can you?” before I pull out my ID, and then the awkward “well, you’ll always look young for your age” comment). It’s just an ordeal. But after you’ve been stuck alone in the house for a few days with only your cats to talk to (I do realize how lame that sounds), going ANYWHERE with people is fun. And to get the ingredients for the recipe you’ve been wanting to try for days? Amazing.
  2. Just because you’re at home with nothing to do doesn’t mean you do nothing.¬†So I kind of blew off my own advice for a few days. I had just gotten back from a vacation with my boyfriend when my parents left, and all I felt like doing was sleeping and watching TV. But after a couple of days¬†watching TV and not changing out of my PJs, I realized how lazy I was being. And it wasn’t just my conscience scolding me for being a bum, I¬†felt¬†terrible. I was always tired, but I didn’t sleep well at night. I felt like I was gaining weight. My brain felt fuzzy, and no matter how bored I felt I couldn’t get myself to do something productive like read a book or write. No matter how cool it may seem of be able to sit around watching TV all day in your PJs, eating junk food, etc…. it’s not. I stopped that pretty fast and set a loose schedule for my days.
  3. Time flies when you’re doing things. So before, when I was just watching TV and doing nothing productive, it seemed like the day took forever to go by. It was one crappy daytime TV show after another, and it was boring. But once I started to actually do things with my day, the time went by faster. Morning breakfast, exercise and shower took until almost eleven. After lunch I either read, work on a puzzle, or work on some craft/cooking project. Before I knew it, it was dark. Then it’s dinner and¬†then¬† I can allow myself to veg out by the TV for a few hours before bed.
  4. Animals are a HUGE responsibility. This is really something I already knew, but wanted to emphasize it even more. Our pets are like family, and we make sure they’re taken care of. But it’s constant hard work. I know a lot of people who adopted pets before realizing how much of a responsibility they were, and the pets don’t get the proper care because of it. Honestly, I’d recommend waiting until at least after you graduate college and have a job to consider a pet. They need food, water, toys, and care products that take a lot of money. They need constant attention (even cats) and love. If you’re not ready to dedicate your time, money and attention to them, don’t adopt them. I love my cats, but my mom is really the one that cares for them usually. And when my parents left, I was shocked at how much attention the cats needed– the first few days they kept me up at night because I didn’t play with them enough to tire them out (that and they were worried about why my parents had left them). I love the cats, but they are a lot of work. (Also, it makes me sympathetic for mothers everywhere. I find myself constantly yelling “Don’t scratch that!”, “Don’t eat that!”, “Stop fighting with your sister!”)
  5. Being safe doesn’t mean being crazy. Being alone in a big house at night is never¬†very fun. Besides the cats being noisy and annoying when I tried to sleep, I was constantly worried about the house. My parents moved into the house last summer, so it’s still pretty new to me and I’m learning all the normal bumps and creaks of the house at night. I’d get myself worked up over some little noise that was probably a cat, and go downstairs with all the lights on to recheck the door locks and the alarm. Yes it’s important to check the locks before going to bed and make sure the alarm is on. But every little noise is not someone breaking in, just relax and go to sleep.
  6. Screening your calls makes life a lot easier. So I do this already on my cell phone. If I’m not expecting a call and I don’t know the number, I don’t answer. If it’s important, they will leave a message. I have been doing this at the house while I’ve been here alone, and out of the 2-3 calls a day we’ve gotten, only 1 (total) has bothered to leave a message. Obviously the others were telemarketers and not worth my time on the phone.

Now obviously this experience hasn’t given me insight into everything that I’ll have to do and worry about as an adult. There are bills and taxes and those pesky jobs… but I have learned that if I decide one day to become a stay-at-home wife/mom, I can not only manage it, but have fun doing it. I love cooking for my boyfriend (he stayed over the weekend so I cooked him pizza and jalapeno poppers) and I can manage my days to be productive. It’s all about self-discipline, structure, and the drive to have an adventure everyday whether with a new craft, a new recipe, or just continuing a project.

Writing Update: Word count rising!

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I was so sure not two days ago that I had finished book 2 of my series (the first draft). I spent hours yesterday writing out my chapter-by-chapter plan for book 3 and brainstorming a working title. But then last night I realized… book two isn’t done yet. It was close, so very close, but not yet complete. I brainstormed for ¬†a while sitting in bed, and resolved to figure everything out in the morning. Luckily, I was so engrossed with planning that somehow I continued thinking about it in my sleep. And by the time I woke up, I knew what I needed to do.

I had to edit through the plans for book 3 to fit in the changes that my addition in book two would make on the plot, but all in all, I love the new bits! I’ve just finished adding on the two chapters that I needed in book 2, and will continue on to book 3 later. Super excited!

With the writing I’ve done today, I managed to catch up my word count to past where it was supposed to be to complete 50k this month. Honestly, 1.6ish thousand words a day is not difficult once you’ve actually sat down to write. Getting yourself focused long enough to actually write is the hard part.

Here’s the updated word count as of now:

Questionnaire and a Question to YOU!

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I found this questionnaire via Jodie Llewellyn, who got it from The YA League. I loved it so much, I wanted to type up my answers for my own blog. I promise I’ll get out a ‘real’ planned post soon!

Writing Habits 

1. Typed or Handwritten?

I prefer to type. It’s easier to save and review than paper; I like to write and save by chapter, so then I can go back easily to change bits or search for accuracy in future (I can’t imagine searching through pages and pages in a notebook to find the chapter I ‘think’ something is in, and having to repeat that over and over.) I also noticed when I did have to write by hand that my writing couldn’t keep up with what was going on in my head, and I’d get lost! Typing is much better for me.

I do use a hand-written journal for notes and planning. Since it’s just for me and I am not planning to send bits off to my brainstormer/critic (aka, my boyfriend), I can keep it on paper and in a pretty leather-bound journal.

I love my journal– handmade paper and leather bound. Sure, my cat knocked nail polish remover on the cover, but my notes and planning stayed safe inside!

Even in my journal I can’t resist having some things typed!

Notes and plans in my journal. I’ve got everything from character bios to location ideas to timelines to chapter-by-chapter (roughly) guides.

2. Cursive or Printed?

Kind of a rough mixture of the two. Another reason I don’t write by hand– my handwriting is terrible, especially if I write fast (which I do when writing my story, see my explanation about keeping up with my brain!) and it all jumbles into a bunch of loopy, messy chicken scratches. For a perfectionist like me, this won’t do at all.

3. Show us your favourite pen.

Don’t have one, I just use whatever is near me. If I’m writing in my planning journal a fountain or gel pen works best. Ballpoint doesn’t write too well on handmade paper.

4. Where do you like to write?

When I was at school my writing space was my desk. I had to have everything cleared off except for my writing journal and my laptop, but it worked well. Now that I’m home I can’t use my old desk because the chair has no back and is uncomfortable (firstworldissues much?) so my writing spot is either on the living room couch or at the kitchen table.

5. Who are your five favorite authors in terms of authorial style?

I am in the middle of the Divergent series and I love Veronica Roth. I have issues with the first-person style, but Roth and Suzanne Collins both are great and have made me enjoy reading books in that style. I prefer writing in third person limited, my favorite author in this style is of course JK Rowling.

6. What are you your three favourite books on writing?

I haven’t read much on writing. I should probably do more so I can perfect my writing style. I did win a copy of The Negative Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. It’s a good resource, but I haven’t used it much since I developed the characters for my current book years ago. I’ll be referring to it when I start my next book!

They also have The Positive Trait Thesaurus and The Emotion Thesaurus. Check them out!

7. Have you ever competed in NaNoWriMo?

Yes. My first time competing was way back in 2007, and I failed miserably. I thought I couldn’t possibly ever write a novel after that. Fortunately, I tried again in 2011, and have been participating ever since.

8. Have you ever won NaNoWriMo?

Yes! After my disaster in 2007 I took a few years to mature as a writer (I was in high school back then and had neither the time or the discipline to write 50k words). I tried again in 2011 and won, and have won each year since then!

9. Have you ever had anything published?

No. I’d like to eventually get the series I’m currently working on published. I’ve got 2 of (hopefully) 3 books written for the series, one edited through once. I’m getting some other people to read and critique them (my boyfriend, bless his heart, isn’t a good critic. He gets some grammar edits and tells me when something doesn’t make sense, but that’s it). Hopefully before I leave for Belize I’ll be able to start the query process.

10. What projects are you working on now?

I’m working on a YA/NA series. I just finished my first edits of book 1, As the Blood Moon Rises, and the first draft of book 2, Ice on the Horizon. Now to start book 3 (no name yet)!

11. What is your soundtrack to writing?

I have a concentration problem when I write. Not that I don’t love to write, but I also love to sing along with music. And the two do not mix well.

12. Do you have a writing pump-up song?

However, if I need help with inspiration to START writing, Muse’s¬†Supermassive Black Hole¬†is a good one.

I also love¬†Arctic Snow¬† and¬†Heart Full of Black¬†by Burning Brides. Thanks to my friend Alyssa for giving these to me in high school on a CD with other ‘pump up’ music. We had created a story about ourselves as assassins, and these were part of the soundtrack.

(ONE OF MY OWN Q’S) Do you plan your work ahead of time or are you a ‘pantser’?

I am a planner. Strictly. I’ve decided my downfall during my first NaNoWriMo was due to the fact that I had nothing planned out. Beginnings and endings are easy to write. Middles are hard. That’s why I must have everything decided. That’s not saying that while I write new things don’t come up; my original plan for book one of the series I am working on was 20 chapters long. The first draft was 67.

As I said before, I use journals to plan. I have one for the series I’m working on, and I have one for this blog. It’s a place to write down notes, ideas for future posts/chapters, and help my brain stay organized.

I want to hear from you!

If you’re a writer like me, I’d love to hear your answers to these questions! I don’t care if you’re a blogger, a novelist, or a professional tech writer, all are welcome to comment. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Also I just got into twitter (sigh) and I use it to send out tidbits about my writing and my blogging. If you’re there, follow me @k_smith007!

Writing Update: Word Count started

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So I know I said I’d wait until March to start working towards my 50000 word goal, but I just couldn’t wait! And since it’s a mock NaNo, I can fudge the rules a bit right?

I spent a while planning with my writing journal today, and then knew I needed to start writing. I realized how close I am to the end of book 2; I probably have about 2 more chapters to write and then it’s done. I got one done, and am so excited to do more!

Here’s my updated word count:

2337 out of my goal of 50000

80316 in book 2

217693 total words

Projects: Writing

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As you can probably guess by how long-winded my blog posts tend to be, one of my passions is writing. I have mentioned NaNoWriMo here before, and want to emphasize how amazing the program is. First, it’s free. Which is wonderful in itself. Second, it not only helps you practice writing for the sake of loving to write, it also helps you learn and develop as a writer. Forums on the website give you pointers to better character development, establish reasonable plot twists, and encourage you when it seems like you’ll never get past the 5k, 20k, and 40k walls. I can’t gloat about them enough, and I encourage anyone who has ever even toyed with the idea of writing a story to check it out.

So, shameless promotion aside, I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo the past 3 years and amazingly won all three (despite all attempts by my schoolwork to keep me from doing so last November). I love the story I’ve been working on, which now consists of two books in (almost) completed first draft form, with a third on the way… when I get around to it.

It’s that last bit that is the catch though. I’ve always been success

ful spitting out 50000 words in November. But somehow ones the race is over and the competition ends, I can’t keep myself driven to write. I love my story, I¬†want to finish it. I¬†want¬†to be able to send out queries and maybe get it published one day. But I just can’t get myself to write. So, it an attempt to get myself to do this, I’m doing an unofficial “miniNano” in the Month of March. I’ve found a widget that I can post to update my word count and you, my readers have to hold me accountable to achieving my goal.

Here’s the goal: Write 50,000 words in the month of March. This is only about 1612 words per day, just under what I did in November. And this time, since

I’m not taking classes or working, I have no reason not to write as much as I can all day. Mini-goals that I have are less strict: I’d like to finish the first draft of book 2 and start book 3. I’d also like to dedicate at least an hour each day to editing through book one, and maybe I’ll be able to have it query-ready before I have to leave for Belize.