Down the Camp NaNo Rabbit Hole

Camp NaNo 2020 Banner

April showers bring May flowers. April days also bring NaNo words. (Yeah, I know, that one didn’t rhyme at all.) The first Camp NaNoWriMo session of 2020 is upon us, amidst a truly upended world.

For some that means the focus just isn’t there as the world deals with such a unprecedented stress to be putting words on a page. For others, like myself, that means we suddenly have all the time in the world to write while many of us are furloughed from our evil day jobs.

I’m finding myself pleasantly surprised and overly excited to suddenly have an entire month, plus a little, off work. Especially during a Camp NaNo month! For the first time in my life I get to experience what it’s like to have a full time job as a writer. I can get a taste of my true dream career, and I can make a solid effort to create a writing routine for myself for the first time. No interruptions for work. No being exhausted from crazy hours and draining customers. No outside distractions with the world on hold either now there’s nowhere to go but walking down my street. No trying to juggle work and college in order to still be able to fit in some writing time. (Which, let me just say, was completely failing.)

So what am I working on during the Great Pause?

Well. For what sounds and feels like the thousandth time, I am attempting to finish the rewritten, expanded novel version of Embermyst so that I can finally republish the once short story that was unveiled with Victory Tales Press almost four years ago now. I have made quite the ambitious goal for myself due to the no work situation. The plan is to spend at least two hours a day on weekdays working at the story, and an hour on weekend days. It equals out to a total of fifty-two hours of work for the whole month. (If I’m really honest with myself I would love to wrap up the whole novel through, potentially, first round edits by the end of the month.) I’m attempting, also, to make my work happen at a specific time and place — at least on weekdays — so that I hopefully fall into a standard routine. Part of that plan is just so I don’t fall completely out of whack and screw myself whenever the job situation reopens.

Since I decided I’m working by hours and not exclusively writing either, I’m tracking minutes instead of words this go round, despite the difficulties of the “new and improved” NaNoWriMo site that launched last November.

Yeah…

“New and improved.”

About that… It is definitely new, but I wouldn’t call it improved at all. There’s many features I loved or found motivating now missing or gone or changed in a way I no longer like. The site is not always the easiest to navigate anymore. It also glitches at times. And I am still so pissed half my past Camp NaNo stats in which I tracked pages or minutes are still not correct. Not to mention they don’t even have the normal tracking options for Camp up on the site yet. I have to use some conversion chart they made and count it as “words.”

Seriously, shouldn’t these have been the most important details to address in the last four months since November?? What have they been doing?? I see no other changes or fixes among the site to elicit what I’m deeming as disregard for the NaNo experience. Don’t even get me started on these new “writing groups” either.

No. Just… No. I want my normal cabins back!

Nevertheless, glitches, life, and woes aside, here we are back in the throes of Camp NaNoWriMo. Back down the rabbit hole we writers go where there’s plenty of snacks…and potentially toilet paper. We’ve been self isolating for a living here, people.

To all my fellow authors, are you participating in Camp this April despite the current state of the world? Why or why not? And if you have joined the madness what are you working on this month? Share your Camp adventure! Or misadventure if it so happens to be.

“Why Me?” (Snippet Sunday 4.28.19)

Welcome to Snippet Sunday on Darkling Dreams!

Where writers come together to share a few sentences (8-10) of their current project — whether it’s a recently released novel, a WIP (work in progress), or an older manuscript that’s being revived. Intended to hook readers, gather feedback, and build an author’s fan base, Snippet Sunday is the Facebook group that does all three.

snippet sunday

Okay, I admit, I dropped the ball again. I got a late, late start on the Camp NaNoWriMo train but I am here now! Hopefully in this last week of Camp I will be able to build a habit and stick around continuously since it’s the last weekend of April already. Only time shall tell here. In the meantime, ready for some more sneak peaks from me?

This week’s excerpt is coming from an oldie but a newbie. My Camp NaNoWriMo project was/is to work on the revision/rewrite of one of the first short stories I ever wrote. Rivers of Black was written at least six — perhaps seven — years ago and it shows in the original draft. Cringe city, ladies and gentlemen. I shared from the original version of this story ages and ages ago when I first began this blog, but let’s forget all those snippets and start anew on the story! For those of you unfamiliar with the tale, Rivers of Black is a paranormal short story.

(FOREWARNING: This story deals with topics that some may find triggering. If you find depression, self harm, and suicide to be touchy subjects for you please read at your own caution, or don’t continue to read at all.)

Now then, let’s begin with the beginning. Here’s the first seven lines of the rewritten Rivers of Black… Please allow for errors; this is a rough draft WiP rewrite thus far.

~*~*~*~

I USED TO look up at the stars at night and ask:

“Why me?”

What did I ever do to deserve this pain?

Then one day it hit me, like a brick to the face. The question had never been, “Why me?” The question had always been, “Why not me?” The answer to that question had been much easier to wrap my head around. I may never have believed it back then but I had a pretty good life before the darkness invaded my every waking and non-waking moment.

~*~*~*~

“Why me?” … Isn’t that one of the biggest million dollar questions of all eternity?


RoB cover 1 by person

Cover made by @_teenagers on Wattpad

Due to the fact this is a WiP rewrite there will no “if you wish to read more…” statement as of yet, nor does it have a working blurb at the moment. Technically the original version does still reside on Wattpad but because of how cringe worthy it is I’m going to suggest not reading it and instead waiting for the polished version to (hopefully) be published by some literary magazine when I finish it.

However! If you wish to read anything else that I have out for free, you can click the tabs above to browse through my available works and then follow the links to my Wattpad account. I love to hear any and all feedback on my work as well. Comments are greatly appreciated, as are the reads. You can also find me on my Facebook author page and now my Twitter page to keep up to date with all that’s going on in my writing.

And if you’re looking for some other great snippets of fellow authors,
hop on over to Facebook and check out Snippet Sunday!

An Unknown Abyss (Snippet Sunday 4.22.18)

Welcome to Snippet Sunday on Darkling Dreams!

Where writers come together to share a few sentences (8-10) of their current project — whether it’s a recently released novel, a WIP (work in progress), or an older manuscript that’s being revived. Intended to hook readers, gather feedback and build an author’s fan base, Snippet Sunday is the FB group that does all three.

snippet sunday

Happy Earth day! Sooo… Three weeks into Camp NaNo and I still don’t have a word count to show for it. With only nine days left I better get my butt in gear and finish this short story I switched to. I mean, I dropped my goal to something pitifully small for me, I better be able to pull it off. Here’s hoping the last week of NaNo is going better for all you readers out there than it is for me!

Even though I’ve switched what I’m working on for Camp NaNoWriMo I’m going to continue to share from Embermyst just to finish out the month. For those that have followed along over the last couple years, you know I got my debut publication in 2016 with this short story in an anthology. Since the company went out of business last year and I received my rights back I began rewriting Embermyst into a full fleshed out novel last November.

I’m picking up right where I left off from in last week’s excerpt. If you missed last week, or need a quick refresh, Morticia was feeling some peaceful coming over her fatigued state, like loving arms pulling her close. So without further ado, here are the next six lines to the never before seen prologue of Embermyst

(Excuse any errors; this is still an unedited WiP. This passage is a bit edited from what I have in the Word document as the whispered speech is actually spoken in Latin. I just haven’t created the exact translation yet so I substituted just the English to avoid looking like an idiot. LOL. If anyone knows Latin well enough to translate or knows someone who does and would be willing to give me a shout on the translation, it’d be greatly appreciated!)

~*~*~*~

“Maiden, Mother, Crone, hear me now for I am thy daughter. Hold me safe in loving arms, guard and bless my steady path,” she whispered under her breath.

In the midst of security something pricked the essence of her being. Alarm coursed through weak limbs and a groggy mind. The safety net surrounding her snapped away harshly like a knife through her soul. Her chest rose and fell with one last erratic breath, arching upwards in a spasm of quiet agony, straining against the ropes that bound her before the unknown abyss snatched her away and reality faded out of existence.

~*~*~*~

And good energy turned bad… Well, it was nice while it lasted? Sorry for the shortness this week, that was the end of the Prologue!


I Was Engaged (Embermyst Promotion)

Due to the fact this is still a WiP I do not have a reworked blurb to share yet and the image comes from the original short story (a part that has not changed, mostly, the second question is a little different; I just haven’t fully figured out the new question to change it yet). Nor will the story be posted to Wattpad either as I have all intentions of pitching it for publication upon its completion. That being said there will be no “if you wish to read more” option.

However! If you wish to read anything else that I have out for free, you can click the tabs above to browse through my available works and then follow the links to my Wattpad account. I love to hear any and all feedback on my work as well. Comments are greatly appreciated, as are the reads. You can also find me on my Facebook author page to keep up to date with all that’s going on in my writing.

And if you’re looking for some other great snippets of fellow authors,
hop on over to Facebook and check out Snippet Sunday!

A Tickled Breath and Promise (Snippet Sunday 4.15.18)

Welcome to Snippet Sunday on Darkling Dreams!

Where writers come together to share a few sentences (8-10) of their current project — whether it’s a recently released novel, a WIP (work in progress), or an older manuscript that’s being revived. Intended to hook readers, gather feedback and build an author’s fan base, Snippet Sunday is the FB group that does all three.

snippet sunday

Sooo… Two weeks into Camp NaNo and with my eight day vacation from work and I still don’t have a word count to show for it. Worse yet, I ended up dropping the project I was getting nowhere on and changed to something else. That something else isn’t going too well either. The word count still isn’t coming, the motivation still isn’t there, and the want to write still hasn’t return. And we are halfway through Camp today. Just my luck.

Even though I’ve switched what I’m working on for Camp NaNoWriMo I’m going to continue to share from Embermyst just to finish out the month. For those that have followed along over the last couple years, you know I got my debut publication in 2016 with this short story in an anthology. Since the company went out of business last year and I received my rights back I began rewriting Embermyst into a full fleshed out novel last November.

I’m skipping ahead just a few lines from last week’s excerpt. I left out a plea from her fiancé to basically come back to her for explanation purposes. So without further ado, here are the next ten lines to the never before seen prologue of Embermyst

(Excuse any errors; this is still an unedited WiP. Minor punctuation abuse this week to fit the limit too.)

~*~*~*~

She let her head fall to the side, catching a washed out glimpse of her fiancé in the doorway through spots of black light in her vision; his voice whispered against her senses, so far off and faint she thought for a moment she imagined it. The priest’s babbling had become just as distant as the seconds ticked by.

A strange heaviness began to creep into her limbs, dragging her down to the earth. Her wild heart had begun to still, the roaring in her ears turning to a light buzzing sound; she could almost hear a reassuring call among that buzzing. A tickled breath and promise of release from this torment. She knew the energy surrounding it, recognized it cocooning her in safety like a second skin. Welcome familiarity surrounded her soul, driving out the heightened sensations of pain, grief, and misguided belief suffocating her in the room.

Morticia closed her eyes, relaxing into those open arms. The world around her bled away, coming to a peaceful standstill. No chanting, no pain, no rough hands forcing her down, no stress, no fear.

~*~*~*~

Any guesses as to what energy she’s feeling? I love hearing guesses.


I Was Engaged (Embermyst Promotion)

Due to the fact this is still a WiP I do not have a reworked blurb to share yet and the image comes from the original short story (a part that has not changed, mostly, the second question is a little different; I just haven’t fully figured out the new question to change it yet). Nor will the story be posted to Wattpad either as I have all intentions of pitching it for publication upon its completion. That being said there will be no “if you wish to read more” option.

However! If you wish to read anything else that I have out for free, you can click the tabs above to browse through my available works and then follow the links to my Wattpad account. I love to hear any and all feedback on my work as well. Comments are greatly appreciated, as are the reads. You can also find me on my Facebook author page to keep up to date with all that’s going on in my writing.

And if you’re looking for some other great snippets of fellow authors,
hop on over to Facebook and check out Snippet Sunday!

What is Camp NaNoWriMo?

Goodbye, March. Hello, April and insanity! For those that already know what Camp NaNoWriMo is, welcome to another month of the madness. For those that don’t know or are new to the world that is NaNoWriMo I’m going to give you a crash course.

I know I’ve talked briefly about Camp NaNoWriMo and NaNoWriMo before on this blog, but those times have mainly been discussing my own successes, failures, or bouts of insanity among writing for these month long challenges. I’ve never talked too much about the challenge in general though.

So today I’m going to paint you the journey of Camp NaNo and all its perks.

camp nano banner

Camp NaNo is affiliated with the non-profit organization called NaNoWriMo — an acronym that stands for National Novel Writing Month. Perhaps many of you have heard of it, but I’m not here to talk about the big NaNo show perks. Not today at least.

Consider Camp NaNoWriMo a trial run of the big and bad NaNoWriMo. Whereas NaNo is a more cookie cutter challenge with a set goal and fewer options of what you’re writing, the Camp version allows you more flexibility on numerous levels. And is more fun in my opinion.

Camp happens twice a year — once in April, and then also in July. Unlike NaNoWriMo, you don’t have a set number goal of 50k, and you can choose from more than just a word count goal. You can make your own goal to fit your own lifestyle. Within Camp you have all these options to choose from in creating your goal: word count goal, page goal, line goal, hour goal, or minutes goal.

From there you choose any goal count from thirty to one million. (I’m not sure I’d suggest trying one million. That sounds impossibly hard.)

One of the best things about choosing your own goal that can be more than just a word count is it allows you to do more than just write. Take this for example:

Last year for July’s Camp NaNo session I choose a page count instead of word count. Wanna know why? Because I had finished writing the first draft of my novel in April’s session and needed some more motivation to edit. You heard me. Edit.

Camp NaNo is flexible enough that you can use your goal for editing instead of writing if you wish.

I choose a page count equivalent to so many chapters of my novel that I had to read through, edit, and make notes on for what needed changed or fixed. That month was the furthest progress, and most accurate progress, I have ever made on editing because it kept me moving without losing my focus. It worked out really well.

If you’re ever lacking motivation to get started the forces that run this month long retreat send out a Camp Care Package every day in your account mailbox (not your email). These Camp Care Packages range from pep talks, to writerly advice, daily challenges, and invites to word sprints, write-ins, and other goodies hosted on their YouTube and Twitter account.

And if you ever need more than those daily packages, their site has an awesome Writing Resources tab full of events, information on the Camp counselors, and lots and lots of Q&A’s for planning, characters, beginnings, scenes, and so much more.

On the side of great resources, since NaNoWriMo and its affiliated sessions are part of a non-profit organization you can win some great goodies from their sponsors by meeting your goal. Sponsors that include (but are not always limited to): Scrivener, Dabble, Scribophile, Storyist Software, She Writes University, and Litographs. Scrivener I know is a big sponsor of NaNoWriMo and its affiliations, and they offer a great discount on their software if you verify you met your goal. Though I’ve not tried the software myself I’ve heard it’s a great tool for writers.

Another great thing about Camp sessions, you don’t have to work on just a novel or novella for Camp NaNoWriMo. You can be writing a screen play, poetry, a short story, multiple short stories or poetry pieces, revisions, essays even. As long as you can fit a goal of hours, minutes, words, pages, or lines to what you want to work on, you can make it work for Camp sessions. That’s the true beauty of Camp NaNo.

However, there is one more perk to Camp that happens to be my favorite.

The cabins.

Cabins are Camp’s version of a small writing group full of buddies you can chat with about anything during your month long journey. You can have up to twenty people in a cabin, and there’s three different options for joining. There are two types of cabins: public and private.

Within the public cabins you have two options. In your cabin preferences you can select to be tossed into a random cabin with mates you don’t know anything about. Or you can choose to be filed into a cabin that meets a certain criteria of similar interests. Whether that interest is by age group, the same genre writing as you, and/or with similar goals as you. That part is totally up to you.

Private cabins are a little bit different. Any member can create their own private cabin, give it a name, and invite campers they know by their username. If you have friends who join you on this mad challenge private cabins are a perfect option to chat along with them and nag — or congratulate — them about their progress.

If you don’t want to be in a cabin that’s okay too. Camp does offer an option to elect out of being placed in a cabin so that you can hole yourself up on your own to write if that works best for you.

So there you have it! Camp NaNoWriMo’s perks and workings crash coursed in all its brilliant madness. Of course, there’s much more I could talk about for Camp NaNo, and their other affiliations — like NaPoWriMo and the Young Writer’s Program — but those are topics for another day.

Here’s to writing like mad for the month. If you’ve taken the plunge into the challenge, share how it’s going and what you’re working on in the comments below.

I Am Not His… (Snippet Sunday 4.8.18)

Welcome to Snippet Sunday on Darkling Dreams!

Where writers come together to share a few sentences (8-10) of their current project — whether it’s a recently released novel, a WIP (work in progress), or an older manuscript that’s being revived. Intended to hook readers, gather feedback and build an author’s fan base, Snippet Sunday is the FB group that does all three.

snippet sunday

The first week of Camp NaNo is over and I…haven’t written a single word. *Sigh* I wasn’t at all ready for the start of NaNo this time, and exhaustion coupled with stress has kept me from catching myself up to speed to start writing. Hopefully now that I’ve got eight days of glorious freedom from work I’ll have the time and energy to refresh myself and start writing finally.

With Camp NaNoWriMo back in the swing of things I’m switching up what I’m sharing from. For those that have followed along over the last couple years, you know I got my debut publication in 2016 with one of my short stories in an anthology. Since the company went out of business last year and I received my rights back I began rewriting Embermyst into a full fleshed out novel last November. My project for the month of April is to continue (and hopefully finish) the rewritten story. That means for this whole month I will be sharing from Embermyst as part of the motivational process to write.

I don’t want to pick up halfway through the novel sharing from my current writing location, so I’m going to start from the new beginning. I’m skipping ahead a few paragraphs from last week’s excerpt. So without further ado, here are the next nine lines to the never before seen prologue of Embermyst

(Excuse any errors; this is still an unedited WiP.)

~*~*~*~

“Oh Holy Father, come forth and save your child from eternal damnation! Come forth and consecrate this sacred place with your presence! Drive this wretched thing from her and make her soul pure again!”

His booming voice cut through the growing haze of reality. With effort she peeled her eyelids open to glance over the priest, arms up to the sky with his head tilted back. A Bible clutched in one hand and a set of rosary beads in his other as he called upon the powers that be.

“I’m not… I am not his…” Her voice didn’t even elicit a whisper amongst his determined chanting. She couldn’t take anymore of this.

~*~*~*~

This might not end well.


I Was Engaged (Embermyst Promotion)

Due to the fact this is still a WiP I do not have a reworked blurb to share yet and the image comes from the original short story (a part that has not changed, mostly, the second question is a little different; I just haven’t fully figured out the new question to change it yet). Nor will the story be posted to Wattpad either as I have all intentions of pitching it for publication upon its completion. That being said there will be no “if you wish to read more” option.

However! If you wish to read anything else that I have out for free, you can click the tabs above to browse through my available works and then follow the links to my Wattpad account. I love to hear any and all feedback on my work as well. Comments are greatly appreciated, as are the reads. You can also find me on my Facebook author page to keep up to date with all that’s going on in my writing.

And if you’re looking for some other great snippets of fellow authors,
hop on over to Facebook and check out Snippet Sunday!

I Am Not Possessed (Snippet Sunday 4.1.18)

Welcome to Snippet Sunday on Darkling Dreams!

Where writers come together to share a few sentences (8-10) of their current project — whether it’s a recently released novel, a WIP (work in progress), or an older manuscript that’s being revived. Intended to hook readers, gather feedback and build an author’s fan base, Snippet Sunday is the FB group that does all three.

snippet sunday

Happy Easter, folks! Or, as I’ve been saying all day, happy Easter Fools! Hopefully April Fool’s tricks didn’t ruin the holiday in any way. If you’re participating in 2018’s first NaNoWriMo session, welcome to the madness that is Camp NaNo as well! The descent into the fevered writing frenzy has begun, and probably with a rough start for most seeing as it began on a holiday. I know I haven’t had a single chance to write yet. Not that I was ready for it yet thanks to the “second Christmas” rush Easter brings to retail.

With Camp NaNoWriMo having begun I’m switching up what I’m sharing from again. For those that have followed along over the last couple years, you know I got my debut publication in 2016 with one of my short stories in an anthology. Since the company went out of business last year and I received my rights back I began rewriting Embermyst into a full fleshed out novel last November. My project for the month of April is to continue (and hopefully finish) the rewritten story. That means for this whole month I will be sharing from Embermyst as part of the motivational process to write.

I don’t want to pick up halfway through the novel sharing from my current writing location, so I’m going to start from the new beginning. So without further ado, here are the first ten lines to the never before seen prologue of Embermyst

(Excuse any wonky punctuation to meet the ten line limit and any errors; this is still an unedited WiP.)

~*~*~*~

“IN THE NAME of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-“

“Quit your chanting!” Morticia shouted over the din of the priest’s rising and falling voice, her own cracking with strain. Sweat dripped down the sides of her face, plastering black locks of hair to her skin. Her chest heaved with each labored breath she took. The stress began to take a toll on her body, sapping her energy, draining her fight. Her heart raced a mile in her chest, “For the thousandth time, I am not possessed by some demon!”

She jerked her head away from one of his disciples attempting to draw another cross on her forehead in holy water. The other waved a cross the size of his hand in front of her face before laying the cold metal against the heated bare skin of her chest. In vain she tried to weakly buck and twist away from them, rough hands forcing her back down on the bed by the shoulders. Coarse rope cut into fragile wrists from her continuous fighting; blood roared in her eardrums, beginning to blur the world with strain and exhaustion.

~*~*~*~

I don’t think they are going to listen to reason.


I Was Engaged (Embermyst Promotion)

Due to the fact this is still a WiP I do not have a reworked blurb to share yet and the image comes from the original short story (a part that has not changed, mostly, the second question is a little different; I just haven’t fully figured out the new question to change it yet). Nor will the story be posted to Wattpad either as I have all intentions of pitching it for publication upon its completion. That being said there will be no “if you wish to read more” option.

However! If you wish to read anything else that I have out for free, you can click the tabs above to browse through my available works and then follow the links to my Wattpad account. I love to hear any and all feedback on my work as well. Comments are greatly appreciated, as are the reads. You can also find me on my Facebook author page to keep up to date with all that’s going on in my writing.

And if you’re looking for some other great snippets of fellow authors,
hop on over to Facebook and check out Snippet Sunday!

Reflecting On A Chaotic Win

Camp NaNoWriMo has come to a close for the year 2017, sadly. They always go by so quickly, each time making me realize I am way too close to the cold months, holiday madness, and the big November NaNoWriMo. (Which, as of right now, I have absolutely no idea what I’m working on during that month.)

Camp NaNo 2017 Winner

Camp NaNoWriMo July 2017 WINNER!!!

I can officially say I made goal for Camp NaNo in July. It was not a pretty win, but I did make it.

If anyone recalls from my post last Tuesday, I had lowered my goal — on what I thought was the last possible day before validating began — down to a mere 55 pages compared to my hope of 146 at the beginning of July. If you also recall from that post, I had started working daily on the editing for Fated to Darkness with a writing buddy and had made it half way to my original goal with six days left to Camp yet. So yes, I had technically already passed goal and could have stopped but I did wish to see if I could hit my original before the month ended.

I found out a couple days later through my email that Camp NaNo no longer has a cut off date for goal changing. That meant I could officially bump my goal back up so that I would have to keep working every day. (I was going to keep working anyways, but this just gave it a little more motivation. I’m not quite sure how I feel about this change though.)

Truthfully I didn’t bump by goal back up until the 30th, once I determined how much I could manage to get through on the last day of Camp. I didn’t jump to my original 146 pages, but I did jump pretty close to it.

At first I thought I could manage the whole 146, but then I told myself I better be a little bit more safe than sorry. (I’m glad I was.) I was on Chapter 9, and I wanted to get through at least Chapter 10 by the end. Well, turns out Chapter 10 was twenty-some pages long. I told myself I would cut that chapter in half for my final page goal of the month. It ended up evening out to 135 pages, which isn’t bad considering where I sat a week and a half ago at a mere 23 pages.

And yes, I made goal. I validated around nine o’clock Monday night. 31 days, 135 pages, 10.5 pages (including the prologue), and many, many concordance pages. It was probably more like roughly two weeks instead of 31 days after my complete fallout in the middle of the month, but I still did it.

I say I was glad I didn’t tell myself to do the whole 146 pages because my plans for Monday were tweaked after I woke up in excruciating pain that morning. It took me longer than I planned for to get myself up and moving to be able to edit yesterday. I’m still in pain and my movement is limited.

So despite all the hardships and roller coaster rides of July, I can say I put another winner’s certificate in my belt. It didn’t go at ALL how I had planned for the month to go, but I learned one important lesson. Or maybe two…

Perseverance is everything.

If you can push through and keep showing up every single day no matter what, then anything is possible to accomplish. You just have to have enough dare and nerve to do it, and keep doing it.

Secondly, never give up.

No matter how bleak, daunting, far off, or foolish a goal or dream looks, never give up on it when it means something to you. It can be attained with enough effort and perseverance.

Two weeks ago I wanted to give up, and two weeks ago now I learned to simply show up and persevere.

Now I’m one-fifth of the way through the first part of this phase of editing for Fated to Darkness. One milestone down, many more to come to add to my accomplishments list as I watch it grow. Camp NaNo may be over for the year, but I will find a way to keep making myself show up everyday to work.

This month may have been a chaotic mess, but it was in no way a fail even with all the faltering I did. Now’s the time to put what I learned to use outside of the madness that is NaNo:

To stop dreaming so much in the big picture and look at the stepping stones along the way. To stop making the ginormous goals and simply just show up day after day to do some work, even if it isn’t as much as I wanted it to be.

Progress is progress, no matter how small or big it may be.

Bring on August, and bring on the simple daily editing goal.

Progress Is Progress

Hello, world. Somehow I have once again managed to find my way to the surface to post. Truthfully, I had every intention of posting at the beginning of this month and keeping up with it this time. I even had all my Writer’s Guide topics laid out for each week this month! That’s a miracle!

Unfortunately that didn’t go to plan in the slightest, and I’m not really sure what happened that screwed every intention I had.

My last post — nearly a month ago now — was right before Camp NaNo began, and I had talked about getting ready for that, and I possibly also ranted about work… *Looks off innocently*

I suppose I could account part of my “falling off the blog wagon” incident to work and how much of a hell situation is was a month ago, but that has smoothed over for the most part again about two weeks ago. Maybe I was just so burned out and fed up with life and work that I no longer cared. Or maybe I was just so bummed and mad at myself because I wasn’t working on my Camp project that I figured I had absolutely nothing to talk about. Maybe all of the above and then some. Who knows with me, I’m not going to try to find the source of my absence, it’d be pointless.

(I do know there was more than one time I remembered I needed a blog post, and by the end of the day I had totally forgotten again and it was too late to do it. That happens a lot anymore. I need to start setting myself an alarm to write my posts so I stop forgetting.)

So while the first two and a half weeks of this month were a complete bust in Camp NaNo and life, I seem to have finally managed to pull some semblance of productivity and motivation back together. Perhaps this time the pieces of my life are a little more well glued together. A feat I can credit to some friends of mine.

Camp NaNo 2017

For the first three weeks of July, there were truthfully only two days in which I edited and worked on my concordance for Fated to Darkness. Those days were Day 1 and 2.  After that it was all down hill from there.

My original goal was to work up through Chapter 11, which was roughly 146 pages or so.

At first I wanted to work on it and kept telling myself I should work on it, but it just didn’t happen between work and other obligations. After that first week, when I had fallen so far behind in only managing to do 23 pages, I started to give up.

In the beginning it came across as I was going to have to lower my goal, to what I didn’t know, but I was going to have to lower it below 100 pages because the rest of my month was so booked with work, camping, and other obligations, that I was never going to have any free time at all to edit. (Or so I thought.) Then that notion began to spiral into not caring if I won for the month or not, which lead to wanting to just delete my entire Camp project for the first time ever because I was so frustrated with myself. I couldn’t figure out why I had tanked so hard this Camp.

On the last possible day before validation began I dropped my goal to 55 pages, which was only two more chapters from where I fell off the Camp wagon. A couple hours after that, I dropped my goal even lower to only 38 pages: one more chapter.

I hated myself for it. I hated how pathetically small that number looked, when I had such high hopes and plans for how I could finish the minor editing and concordance work before November started. I could see all those plans and hopes washing away down the drain each time I sighed heavily and officially dropped my goal.

But I’ve come to realize that I dream too big for the war I fight inside my own head every single day. I’ve come to finally see that those dreams carry me away on an euphoric high way up into the pristine white clouds and sunshine for a little bit, then the storm clouds roll back in at the slightest diversion to those dreams, snuffing the sun out, and the high is gone. The storm takes my motivation and hopes with it; and Mother Nature always wins in the end.

I also realized something else though. If I cannot find the willpower strong enough to hold myself accountable to my goals and dreams, then I do need help to do so. I don’t mean just encouragement, I mean the kind of help that stands at your side as your shadow, doing exactly what you do so that you aren’t doing it alone anymore. It’s easier to motivate yourself when you have someone in your corner consistently cheering you on and helping you build castles from sand.

And that is what happened finally.

Five days ago the black clouds began to clear, and with help — and much grumbling and resistance at first — I got myself to once more sit down and try to edit. I only expected to work for an hour, if that if I could keep myself focused, and instead I ended up working for two hours. Perhaps I didn’t feel very accomplished in the end, perhaps I didn’t feel the excitement to be working again yet, and I didn’t believe at the time that “some progress is better than no progress”, but that was because again I was still dreaming too big.

I’ve been looking at the long run goal for so long instead of looking at the stepping stones that lead me there. I’ve been looking at the completed concordance, and all 43 chapters (including Prologue and Epilogue) read through, slightly edited, noted for paper edits, and all the work for Phase 2 of this stage where I take all my messy notes and organize them to the concordance, and every word of every page in the Word doc that is overwhelming.

I’m psyching myself out when I stare at the project as a whole.

Yes I have a long, long way to go in this novel yet, but don’t they always tell you to stop and smell the roses, to enjoy the journey instead of focusing solely on the destination? Isn’t it easier to see how far you’ve come when you break the journey into parts, like traveling cross country, state to state, city to city.

If I stop thinking about the goals, if I stop making the goals, then I finally stop stressing about making par, about getting to the page or chapter or word count I so-called need to.

Progress is progress, no matter how small or big.

Yes, I want to finish this stage before November, but I don’t have to plan out doing this many chapters and pages every single month. All I truthfully have to do is show up and work, and before I know it…I’ll be farther than I thought I would be. Then suddenly I won’t be worrying so much about par, wondering if I’ll make my goal for the month.

I read somewhere that it is more motivating to make a list of all the things you accomplish, instead of a list of all the things you want to accomplish and never get to cross off half. Watch the positive list grow and grow to build yourself up, and if you so wish, make that goal list anyways and watch it grow smaller and smaller compared to your accomplishment list on steroids so long as you show up to work. At some point the positive one will come to outweigh the ever-growing, daunting list.

So right now I have no true monthly goals anymore. My only intention is to be through this stage of editing before November, and at the rate I’m going now without the stress of meeting quotas, I might even be there before October.

Right now it’s just work for one hour a day at the very least with a friend to help hold myself accountable. (Most days I’m finding I do more than an hour.) It doesn’t matter how many pages I get done, or if I make it through the chapter or not, just work. The hope is the more I do it, the easier it will get, the more habit it will become until I can hold myself to it every day without issue. And the more I work, the further I get every single day.

A week ago I thought I wouldn’t make goal for Camp. A week ago I wrestled with myself over deleting my Camp project and giving up entirely. A week ago I didn’t care. It’s amazing how one week, one day, one conversation can change everything.

Now I here I sit making sure I edit every single day with a writing buddy for at least that one hour. Now here I sit somehow managing to get through almost a chapter a day without even realizing how much progress I’m making. Now here I sit truly wondering if I ever needed to drop my Camp goal at all from just four days of work.

I am over halfway to my original goal of 146 pages, and there is still six days left to Camp NaNo. I am 23 pages away from being one-sixth of the way through my entire book. I am 23 pages away from breaking triple digits in page numbers. I am three chapters away from breaking double digits in chapters.

When I look at it that way, in bits and pieces, only then do I see just how far I’ve gotten already. When I look at how many pages are being added to my concordance, how many notes are being organized and recorded to make the paper edits that much easier, I see just how far I’m getting finally.

Progress is progress, no matter how small or big it may be. Remember that fellow authors, writers, poets, and dreamers. Always remember that and the storm clouds will clear the way for sunshine once more.

Gearing Up For Camp NaNo

The Evil Day Job and writing don’t always mix nicely, especially when you work in soul-sucking retail. Sometimes it seems impossible to be able to unplug from work and find time, or energy, to write once you make it home — hopefully in one piece. And other times…it really is impossible.

I am going to hate myself for saying this, but I have begun to associate this work week as a third Christmas. (Easter is the second Christmas when it comes to retail, and actually Back to School could be the third mini Christmas instead, so maybe this is like my fourth Christmas.) Essentially this week is Hell Week when my boss decided it’s a great time to take an eight day vacation — for what I swear is the third time in only a couple months, throw myself and the two other managers under the bus more than once, and leave all of us to pick up her slack the final week before the biggest boss visit of our store’s life.

Thanks, bitch! NOT! I don’t care what’s going on in your life right now, you should definitely be here for this.

I do not get paid enough for this amount of stress, frustration, and responsibility now sitting on my shoulders. I should also not be going into overtime this week, but guess what? All three of us managers left to deal with this bullshit are probably going into overtime, even when we’re technically not allowed.

You know it’s time to find a new job when you’ve got to the point that you really just don’t care anymore. You do what you get done and the rest… “Well, fuck it. It is what is anymore. I don’t care.”

I get it though. You’re the general manager and you’ve adopted an “I can do whatever the hell I want” attitude because of it. Whatever though. I don’t care anymore. I’ll look for a new job unless things start shaping up as fair again, or I’ll leave and laugh while I watch you scramble to fill an already shorthanded position.

Well no wonder I’m going into overtime then when I’m not supposed to!

*Rolls eyes* Idiot…

I shall forego a longer rant about work though and move onto writing. If there’s one thing overtime kills, it’s free time at home and the energy to do anything once you get home. It also doesn’t help when you work so many messed up shifts that you have to choose between eating, sleeping, or getting things done once you finally do get home.

The bad thing about all this happening right now is that it’s the week before Camp NaNo starts for me. By the time Saturday rolls around I’m going to be so fed up and exhausted that I’m going to need all of Saturday just to recover some sanity and motivation — maybe longer than that at this rate, which means I only have Sunday left in my request off days to get a head start on Camp.

I should have taken the first three days of July off for Camp, but then again, even if I did, my boss would be taking away the approved third day just like she took away one of my approved days — approved in FEBRUARY — this week because her life took precedent over mine.

I did not do it for you, bitch, I did it for the two other managers getting stuck with your bullshit too. Don’t you dare thank me for it, or I might just have the balls to finally say to your face I didn’t do it for you. (The other two managers know straight up I did it for them.)

Despite how much hell this week is going to be I did manage to start my Camp NaNo  project on Sunday. For the first time in two months I finally picked up some of my writing and got to work. Since I’m using Camp to work on the concordance and some minor editing of Fated to Darkness, I wanted to get a head start so I could play around with the best way to go about this project.

I’m glad I did get a head start because I spent a good hour and a half just organizing pages in my concordance and figuring out what sections/categories needed added yet, and making lists for what to include in certain categories (like character sheets, and chapter summary information for easy access to arranging plot lines, and so forth).

By the time I did call it quits Sunday night since I had to be at work early Monday morning, I had a better basis for how to do things, started a rough note notebook to keep track of things for said pages above, had managed to get through the Prologue of my story with the minor editing, and created a reference and question Word doc I can consult and use when I begin the major editing.

My hope is by making this Word doc I’ll better be able to organize the notes I left myself in my rough draft. I’ll be able to use it to answer questions of past events or miscellaneous things, or note that I need a character name, or a chapter title, or that this section needs more editing, or that I need to watch my “telling words” in this section, or this scene needs more description, etc. etc. etc.. By transferring and noting where those references and questions are in my rough draft, I should be able to eliminate lots of unnecessary words and some pages so I’m not printing — or paying — as much when I start paper editing the book. (I plan to put the Word doc on a flash drive and take it to an office supply store to print it instead of using all my own paper and ink.)

I think it’s going to work based on how things started out for me, and my hope is to get up to at least Chapter 11, which is about 146 pages, by the end of July. If I want to stick to my original goal of getting through the whole book by November, that gives me four months, and there’s about 40 some chapters in this book. Roughly ten chapters a month, not too bad — I don’t think. By doing it this way I can use the minimal free time of November and December to organize the rough notes I’m putting in the notebook into my concordance, and also print my reference Word doc and the actual book.

(Wait, what free time in November? That’s NaNoWriMo! And the start of the holiday!)

The more I think about this, the scarier it is to see how far I’ve really come. At the same time it’s exciting. It’s hard to believe I’ve really come this far.

Now if only I can figure out how to regain energy and motivation in the face of work’s hell to keep pushing forward this week — I would like to get through Chapter 1 before Camp starts — and in the future at this rate… Music only helps so much sometimes. I need another way. Like maybe taping the logo of my company — or maybe my boss’ face — on my target and practice shooting my bow at it. Bet you I’d hit a bull’s eye…

How do you unplug from work to shake off it’s exhaustion and frustration to be able to focus on writing and/or editing once you’re home?