NaNoWriMo 2022, week 4 mini update

Week four is in the can! Three days left. Will I make it?! (SPOILER: I never intended to.)

The plan

To do what I can and feel good about the progress 🙂 I’m not a fast writer at the best of times.

The progress

Here’s what week four looked like:

I wrote 7,718 words on Alice in Thunderland and 364 words in this post, for a total of 8,082 words for the week.

Overall, I’ve written 31,868 words, or 64% of the 50k goal.

And … I made an adjustment to the first three days of the month. I forgot to count the assignment I’d written up for my book coach (!) So, that added 3,378 to my word count (reflected in the above). I’ll break down my weekly progress on Alice and on other projects in my next chapter update.

The pivot

I’m getting better at the quick shift from work to writing to work brain. Also getting better at sleep and the rearrangement of Torvi afternoon walk times, but appointments, meetings, and events continue to disrupt my plans/schedule/rituals. The appointments, meetings, and events are things I want to do, but they’re still disruptive. I plan around them to the best of my ability, but it’s still a challenge.

Am I coming off as too whiny? Too first world problems? Too middle-class CIS/Het white chick privilege?

Change can be an autistic’s nightmare, even when you expect it and plan for it. That’s the truth.

And in another three days, I’m going to be adapting to change again, as I resume curation and my usual daily schedule. I have to fit in the de-Hallowe’ening and Christmasing of the house as well. Yup, still have the Hallowe’en door decorations up. Everything else has been gathered and made ready for its trip into the storage tub downstairs. November generally means a pause on a lot of day-to-day activities.

In any case, I’m happy with how NaNoWriMo 2022 has gone so far.

I’ll fill you in on the last three days in my next chapter update next weekend.

The days of grey skies are here.

Until next week, be well and stay safe; be kind and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

NaNoWriMo 2022, week 3 mini update

Week three’s a wrap! Welcome to week four.

The plan

To keep on as I’ve been keeping on.

The progress

There were a few good days, but work and appointments, and social events also meant several low-production days.

Here’s what week three looked like (notice the nifty colour-coding?):

So, 6,548 words on Alice in Thunderland and 380 words in this post, for a total of 6,928 words for the week.

In NaNoWriMo so far, I’ve written 20,428 words of the 50k-word goal, or 41%.

The pivot

It’s not a pivot, but I’m trying to use my afternoon breaks at work to write. It’s not been as successful as I’d like, because it’s hard to shift gears between work-brain and writer-brain and back to work-brain again. Also, it’s only 15 minutes (yes, I hear you say, that’s the length of a sprint) so I don’t get a lot written.

As the days have been getting darker, I’ve also had to change the time I walk Torvi, which is right after work, most days, meaning that I can’t get right to writing. It’s that time of year when I have to bundle up in boots and scarf and mitts and winter coat, which turns a 15- to 20-minute walk into a 30- to 40-minute walk. Change, even seasonal change, is never easy for me.

Daylight Saving Time ended on the 6th, and that always discombobulates me for about a week. I’ve tried to compensate by getting to bed at a more reasonable hour and using earplugs and a sleep mask to help me sleep better. It’s definitely helped me get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer.

So, workdays, I write on my afternoon break (15 minutes), between walking Torvi and supper (30 minutes to an hour, depending), and then after supper to about 9 pm (an hour and a half to two hours). After 9, my brain shuts down and good words stop happening. That adds up to 2 and a quarter to 3 and a quarter.

Weekends aren’t much better.

It’s been a limited success.

But that’s been week three of NaNoWriMo in this writer’s life.

Until next week, be well and stay safe; be kind and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

NaNoWriMo 2022, week 2 mini update

Week two is done, for better or worse. Welcome to week three!

The plan

The plan was just to keep going, honestly.

The progress

I’m back to work this week (I forgot to mention that I was on leave last week) means all I have are evenings and weekends. And I still have other obligations to attend to. Again, I’ve been taking it easy on myself. There’s no point if I’m not having fun. And I am having fun, so whatever the ultimate outcome, I consider that a win.

Unfortunately, this week’s impediments to progress included a power outage, a forced Windows update, and a plant emergency (it fell, spilling soil all over the floor—I had to clean up and repot it). All of this resulted in about three hours that could have been devoted to Alice 😦

Week two looked like this:

I wrote 8,492 words on Alice, and blogged 320, for a total of 8,812.

At this point, I don’t think I’ll even make 30k, let alone 50k, but every word’s a victory! That is, every word is one I didn’t have before. It’s also more than would have written without the motivation of NaNoWriMo. It’s progress even if the ultimate goal isn’t reached.

The pivot

Again, not pivoting.

I did get my laptop updated (a little belatedly, as it’s been a few months since I last used it), and now I can work on the couch or dining room table if I want. I could even write in bed (!) though I haven’t, yet.

My portable desk.

I just have to be careful to close the document on my desktop. It will update on both with frequent saving, but honestly, it’s easier just to have the document opened on one computer at a time 🙂

Until next week, be well and stay safe; be kind and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

NaNoWriMo 2022, week 1 mini update

Welcome to my NaNoWriMo project for 2022, my alternate history/steampunk novel, Alice in Thunderland.

Airship captain Madeline Hatter must rescue her girlfriend and military research and development scientist Nuala Rabbit when she is kidnapped by otherworldly agents. If she can’t, Canada and its allies will be ill-prepared for the next great war. And if she can’t stop Thunderland’s Queen Hart from using Nuala’s wormhole generator to launch an attack of his own, it might not be a world war they face, but a worlds’ war.

It’s a work in progress 🙂

The plan

I didn’t have much of a plan. I’d roughed out the first 20 chapters or so and was just going to pants the heck out of it. So far, so good.

While I signed up for the 50k, I don’t anticipate that I’ll be able to “win” this year. I’m trying not to put pressure on myself and aim for quality over quantity. I’m learning that gamification doesn’t work well for me anymore.

Even counting words from other projects might not get me to 50k. I’ll settle for whatever I get. This year, NaNo’s all about diving into a new project and giving myself the space and grace to do it well.

The progress

I started off slow but gained momentum as I worked. There was a little hiccup because of Wordstock Sudbury, but attending the literary festival was worth it. More about that in my next chapter update.

The firs six days of NaNo looked like this:

4,688 words of 50,000, or 9%.

The pivot

I don’t really have to pivot, but I want to get my laptop updated and try writing in the living room sometimes. Just for a change of place. I even have a lap desk ready to go …

Well, that’s it for this week.

Sun dogs. I take ’em where I can find ’em.

Until next week, be well and stay safe; be kind and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

The next chapter: October 2022 update

Ah, November. Time for NaNaWriMo and a break from weekly curation 🙂 Getting this update out early before the word rush begins.

I’ll be providing mini updates every week, as I have in past years but, with my new system, a regular update on November’s doings should be feasible. Look for that in early December, just before curation resumes.

Your monthly PSAs:

All lives cannot matter until Black, Indigenous, and people of colour lives matter.

Continue to observe public health guidelines (washing hands, maintaining physical distance, masking where you can’t, getting your vaccinations as recommended). Covid is endemic and new variants continue to crop up. Get your bivalent booster when you can (got mine!). Take care of yourselves and the people you love.

Russia’s unprovoked war in the Ukraine continues and continues to be deplorable. I stand with the Ukraine!

Reproductive rights are everyone’s fight!

The month in writing

I continued working through Reality Bomb but had to give up around the 15th. By then, I’d only managed to cut 4,000 words. I realized that my map was failing me almost as much as the draft. I need to step back, take an objective view, and prepare myself for more rewriting, I think.

So, the only writing tracked this month was on the blog.

Including this post, I wrote 6,774 words or by 5,000-word goal, or 135%.

But … I made my choice and am now working with editor and book coach extraordinaire, Suzy Vadori 🙂 She’ll help me whip my WIP into shape.

I also had a Canadian Authors Association Board meeting on the 24th.

Filling the well

The Writer Unboxed OnConference continued through to the 16th. Lots of great sessions with Donald Maass, David Corbett, Desmond Hall, Kathryn Craft, Keith Cronin, Julie Duffy, Gwen Hernandez, Tiffany Yates Martin … there were just so many excellent sessions!

I attended the virtual launch of Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Spare Man on the 10th.

Then, I kind of did the crazy about mid-month. I signed up for Sandra Wickham’s five day “Outline Your Novel” workshop from the 12th to the 16th, and I had already signed up for Can-Con (virtual stream) from the 14th to the 16th. Both events overlapped with the OnCon. Thank goodness for replays.

I then continued the crazy by signing up for Daniel David Wallace’s Escape the Plot Forest event from the 22nd to the 25th. Again, replays saved my butt.

Finally, I attended Mary Robinette Kowall’s No Prep NaNoWriMo on the 29th. It’s the second time I’ve attended and I’m hoping that her techniques will help me draft my next project.

I read some of my poetry for the first time since the panini hit (and, truthfully, a long time before that) at the French Kiss open mic on October 4th. It was a lovely evening, and I got to reconnect with Pandora Topp and Chloé LaDuchesse. I also received some news from Latitude 46: the publisher has a line on a poetry editor for my forthcoming collection.

Had Thanksgiving supper at my mother-in-law’s. For simplicity and convenience, we opted for Chinese (few of us really enjoy Turkey). It was delicious, and we had apple cake for dessert.

We had to leave Torvi at home alone (for the first time) for the 2 hours we were there, as my mother-in-law’s building doesn’t allow pets on the premises, even to visit. The good news, Torvi—though she went ballistic when we got home—was a VERY good girl who deserved all the treatos 🙂

A non-writing event I attended was the Beyond Limits Autism Conference on the 23rd.

I got my second covid booster (Moderna bivalent) on the 12th. I will say that my arm was the sorest with this vaccine, but I’m as protected as I can be. For now.

What I’m watching and reading

In the viewing department, I finished watching the first season of Severance (Apple +). Weird and creepy and totally absorbing. Twists abound, but no answers … yet.

Phil and I watched She-Hulk (Disney +) and we both loved it. I read She-Hulk (both savage and sensational) when I was young, and the series reflects the comics. A focus on the difficulty of trying to be a lawyer and a superpowered person? Check. Breaking the fourth wall? Check. Fun sex positivity? Check (check, check)! And the finale was so meta.

I watched the third live action Full Metal Alchemist: The Last Alchemy. Again, it adheres to the FMA: Brotherhood storyline, but I liked the divergences. Subplots are all tied up at the end.

I watched the first season of House of the Dragon. I liked it, despite repeated misogyny and body horror. I know it’s being done for a reason, but honestly, I could have done without it.

Finally, I watched Red Notice. Fun triple-heist, opposites attract/buddy comedy, long con, double cross, and double-double cross, with a little Indiana Jones thrown in. You’d think with so many tropes, the movie wouldn’t be coherent, but the writers dove into each trope with such gusto, it all worked. And Ryan Reynolds is always entertaining.

Moving on to the month in reading, I read Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun. It’s very Velveteen Rabbit and gave me the same feels. Klara is an artificial friend (AF) who is purchased for a young girl, Josie, by her mother. Josie is sick and needs Klara is ways most other children don’t need their AFs. Klara is solar powered but has a special relationship with the sun. She plans to cure Josie with the sun’s “special energy.”

But the mother has other reasons for purchasing Klara and as the mystery unravels and Josie gets sicker, Klara takes drastic measures to save her girl. The ending is bittersweet.

Then, I listened to The Sandman, Act III by Neil Gaiman. S&S Audio pulled out all the stops. Orchestral score, sound effects, actors like James MacAvoy. I can’t imagine how long it takes to produce these things, but bravo. And I loved it.

Next up was Gail Carriger’s Changeless, the second in her Parasol Protectorate series. Alexia stops a humanizing “weapon” from being used to manipulate the supernatural world, but her friend Ivy elopes with an actor and, when it’s revealed she’s pregnant, her werewolf husband suspects her of infidelity, because supernaturals can’t procreate.

I also finished reading Tanya Huff’s The Future Falls. It’s the third in the Gale Women series, but I suspect that each book is fairly standalone. Essentially, Gale Seer Aunt Catharine (all the powerful women in the family are Aunts—the capital counts) Sees that an asteroid is going to strike Earth in an extinction-level event. The Gales can protect themselves, but Charlie wants to save the world. She’s kind of grown to like it, mostly because of the music.

And that was the month in this writer’s life.

Until next tipsday, the last for November, be well and stay safe; be kind and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, Oct 16-22, 2022

This is the final tipsday of October (!) Will you NaNoWriMo this year? I am. It will probably be another NaNo rebel combo, though I will be focusing on Alice in Thunderland. It might actually be a novella, though I’m not certain, yet.

In any case, it’s time to get your fill of informal writerly learnings. Enjoy!

Richelle Lyn is teaming up with other solopreneurs. Then, Jeanette the Writer explains what an editor actually does. Stephanie Dethlefs helps you get to know your ideal reader. Later in the week, Ashley Christiano offers five meditations to help you find your writing confidence. DIY MFA

Jan O’Hara discusses journaling and the writer (episode: man versus table saw). Then, Barbara Linn Probst is grappling with the awkward question of “women’s” fiction. Sophie Masson considers food in fiction. Writer Unboxed

Janice Hardy lists five ways dialogue can annoy your readers. Fiction University

K.M. Weiland reveals the nine negative character arcs in the enneagram. Helping Writers Become Authors

This fairy tale is an actual nightmare. Tale Foundry

Becca Puglisi lists the ingredients for a successful story climax. Margie Lawson says, here be monsters: writers beware! Lynette M. Burrows shares seven ways to increase your creativity through workspace design. Writers in the Storm

Jessica Conoley is writing through the impossible. Then, Hattie Fletcher explains how to avoid taking edits too personally. C.S. Lakin helps you use weather to convey mood in fiction. Jane Friedman

On her own site, Susanne shares tips on how to bring setting to life in your fiction. Live, Write Thrive

Marissa Graff suggests five micro-edits to hook readers on your first page. Then, Julie Artz shares her top three world-building pitfalls and how to avoid them. Writers Helping Writers

The Rings of Power has a narrative momentum problem. Like Stories of Old

Nathan Bransford wonders, can you see what is and isn’t on the page?

Tiffany Yates Martin explains how to speak as well as you write (part 2). Fox Print Editorial

Kristen Lamb reveals why we love, hate, and need horror.

Chris Winkle explains why you should consider present tense. Mythcreants

Roz Morris interviews Jessica Bell on making good decisions about cover design. Nail Your Novel

Louise Harnby answers this question: can I place a dialogue tag before the character’s speech?

How to prevent creative burnout as a writer. Reedsy

Hannah McGregor shares how her Harry Potter podcast made her a better scholar. The Walrus

Jeff Beer explains why Marvel’s She-Hulk finale is the best branded content of the year. Fast Company

Michelle Cyca interviews Ann-Marie MacDonald on exile, imagination, and her new gothic ghost story. The Walrus

John Garth explains how J.R.R. Tolkien came to write the stories that were the source material for The Rings of Power. The Smithsonian Magazine

David Routt: HBO’s House of the Dragon was inspired by a real medieval dynastic struggle over a female ruler. The Conversation

Thanks you for spending some time with me, and I hope you took away something to support your current work(s) in progress.

Until Thursday, keep staying safe and well.

Tipsday: Informal writerly learnings, Oct 9-15, 2022

Another week, another batch of informal writerly learnings!

LA Bourgeois says, imagination, engage! Then, Stephanie BwaBwa shares some marketing systems and automations to support your self-publishing career. Olivia Fisher is tapping into the hearts of kids: crafting authentic voice in middle grade. DIY MFA

Ann Marie Nieves answers your PR and marketing questions, part IX: do you twerk? Then, Jim Dempsey wonders, is your book any good? Kathleen McCleary is out of character. Kathryn Craft on story and death and life. Then, David Corbett is crafting an unforgettable villain with lessons from Louise Fletcher’s portrayal of Nurse Ratched. Writer Unboxed

How this became the sad girl era. The Take

K.M. Weiland shows you nine positive characters arcs in the Enneagram. Helping Writers Become Authors

Janice Hardy shares five fun ways to take advantage of your characters’ fears. Then, Ellen Buikema lists ten ways to start your story. Later in the week, Julie Glover discusses the hardest book she’s ever written. Writers in the Storm

Hank Quense helps you build your own digital planner with Scrintal. Elizabeth Spann Craig

Gaia, the mother of creation. Fate & Fabled | PBS Storied

Sue Coletta helps you construct the skeleton of your story. Then, Angela Ackerman says that the key to a successful NaNoWriMo is using October wisely. Later in the week, C.S. Lakin says less is more when it comes to describing setting. Writers Helping Writers

Jessica Bell points out the key elements of eye-catching book cover design. Joni B. Cole: you have a great idea for a story. Where do you start? Catherine Baab-Maguira explains why it’s better to write about money, not for money. Jane Friedman

Preptober tips! Do these ten things before NaNoWriMo. Reedsy

Nathan Bransford answers the question, “When should I stop sending query letters?”

Kristen Lamb considers motivation and how what drives us defines us.

Tiffany Yates Martin: how to speak as well as you write, part 1. Fox Print Editorial

Chris Winkle considers movement, the 2,300-year-old story principle. Then, Oren Ashkenazi analyzes five stories undermined by their epilogues. Mythcreants

Roz Morris: becoming you—how to develop confidence as a writer. Nail Your Novel

Overcoming perfectionism as a writer. Shaelin Writes

Sahar Arshad: from Never have I Ever to Bridgerton, the Desi girl era is here at last. Teen Vogue

Matthew Vogt: pantheon of superheroes. JSTOR Daily

Joyce Kinkead recounts the 5,000-year history of writer’s block. The Conversation

Jordan Pruett wonders, what counts as a bestseller? Public Books 

KC Hoard conducts a roundtable with designers: book cover confidential. The Walrus

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you found something to support your current work(s) in progress, whatever stage they’re at.

Until Thursday, keep staying safe and well.

The next chapter:  October/November 2021 update

Sweet Lord! It feels like forever since I wrote one of these. Forever and a week. And three days. Sorry about that. The last couple of weeks have been hectic at work. Ran out of weekend on the 4th/5th (what with all the Christmas-ing). And I ran out of weekend again on the 11th/12th because it was my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday party. Both of those will feature in December’s next chapter update.

The month(s) in writing

 Will start off with October … if I can remember that far back 🙂

The writing was not going well.

I was still recovering from my autistic burnout, still being kind to myself, and still busy at work. There are more days when I did not work on Reality Bomb than days I worked on it. Of my conservative 5,000-word revision goal for the month, I only revised 3,060 words. That’s 61%.

I did work on a piece of short fiction, but it was focused editing to reduce the word count, so there was nothing to record. I submitted the story and the rejection came back two days later.

Aside from RB and the story, I kept up with my curation posts. I wrote 4,811 words of my 3,500-word goal, or 137%.

And that’s all I did in October.

The November update is just going to be summary 🙂 I embarked on NaNoWriMo 2021 with a conservative goal. All I really wanted to do was get back to a regular writing habit, if for no other reason than to prove that I could do it.

I was a NaNo Rebel and titled my project NaNo Rebel Combo. I counted everything I wrote or revised in the month. It helped that I had the first two weeks of November off work, but I sincerely thought my progress would crater after I returned.

Surprisingly, it didn’t.

Words revised on RB and edits to its story map: 44,854

Words written on short fiction: 1,424

Words blogged: 2,138

Words written on (my last) Speculations column: 1,653

Other words written: 360

Total words revised: 44,854

Total words written: 5,575

Grand total: 50,429 words

I submitted the short story I wrote to an anthology call. Will let you know if anything comes of that.

Filling the well

In October, I attended two virtual writerly events. A reading by Wab Kinew, and the combined Writing Excuses/Surrey International Writers’ Conference online. Both were lovely. And WXR/SiWC posted all their sessions for attendee viewing for 30 days after the event, so I was able to watch all the sessions I had to miss because work.

My mom hosted Thanksgiving for our family.

I also tracked down a therapist who specializes in autism and scheduled an appointment with her in early November.

I went in to work on October 29th and retrieved my chair. It was an accommodation request resulting from an ergonomic assessment before we got our adjustable desks at work. At the time, sitting was the issue and standing was the solution. After eight years of standing to work and write, I decided to change things up and try sitting again for a while.

I adjusted the seat pan and back to encourage me to lean back, so I wouldn’t get tense and torque out my neck, back, and shoulders the way I used to. And it’s working. I had some difficulties with the height of the arm rests, but now that I’ve resolved those, I’m golden. I credit my NaNo win, at least in part, to my new, comfortable sitting arrangement.

I made the tough decision to stop writing my column for DIY MFA. They’ve become a kind of family. I’ll miss writing for them, but I have to refocus on myself right now.

In November, aside from NaNo, I attended several virtual sessions from this year’s Wordstock Sudbury and a couple of Jane Friedman webinars.

Home for the Howlidays, with my short story, “The Wolf You Feed,” was launched on November 23rd. It’s available on Amazon if you want some wolfish holiday reads.

I had my first session with my therapist, got a note from my doctor for insurance, and submitted my first claim (which was subsequently paid). I investigated the accommodation process at work. In short, I made progress.

My two weeks of vacation in November, compared to the two weeks of sick leave I took back in September, were truly restorative. September was just about getting my head back. My success in NaNoWriMo cemented for me that I can still write and/or revise daily, that everything I produce is not crap, and that I can still accomplish lofty creative goals if I commit.

But now, there’s another urgent project that needs to be completed at work, and I’m taking another break (not voluntarily). I have to manage my energy levels and health.

And get lots of cuddles!

What I’m watching and reading

Watching first, as has been my pattern of late.

The Black Widow movie wasn’t as bad as I’d been led to believe. It didn’t blow my mind, but it was enjoyable.

I finished watching the last season of Riverdale, for real this time. Not fond of the time jump and the super-clichéd storylines. Betty’s basically Clarice Starling, Jughead’s every substance-abusing writer ever rumoured, Archie’s a veteran now, but all his flashbacks look like WWII (?), Veronica is the vixen of Wall Street … just ugh.

The New Mutants was okay. I always enjoy Maisie Williams and Anya Taylor Joy, but I wasn’t fond of how the latter, as Illyana Rasputin, was framed as a mean girl. It just didn’t fit with my experience of the comics.

The series finale of Supergirl was sappy, as expected. The conflict felt off all season, though. Kara (and everyone, really) made a lot of uncharacteristic decisions, because final season? A little disappointing.

Phil and I watched the second season of Locke & Key. Not bad. Better than season one, I think, but it took a while to kick into gear, and, honestly, it had been so long since the first season, I was unclear on a lot of the plot, even with the season one recap under my metaphorical belt. It came together in the end, though.

The latest season of Doom Patrol was … frustrating more than anything. Excuse my language, but they’re all still fucked up fuckups. You’d think they’d have spanked their inner moppets by now.

Finally, the shining view of the last two months, Reservation Dogs. Loved! That is all. Go watch it now!

In the reading department, I read nine books over the two months. Having said that, I’m currently nine books behind in my 2021 Goodreads challenge. I may not even make last year’s goal (which I surpassed, by the way) of 60 books.

I listened to Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, part 1 on Audible. It was a fully produced audioplay, with top actors, and I loved it, despite its meandering story. It was originally a graphic novel, and episodic, so that was to be expected. I’m looking forward to the Netflix series.

Having read and enjoyed P. Djèlí Clark’s Master of Djinn, I thought I should fill in the gap with the novellas that lead up to it. The Haunting of Tram Car 015, was fun and focused on supporting characters from the novel, Hamed and Onsi.

I read Django Wexler’s The Thousand Names as part of a book club my critique group started. It was good, but the protagonist, Winter, doesn’t show up right away. Maybe it’s because the novel is more properly Marcus’s story, but, being a woman, I connected to Winter more. As a result, it was an uneven read. I enjoyed it, and the world building was great, but Marcus was a very traditional protagonist in epic fantasy. I wasn’t as interested in his story and thus didn’t enjoy the novel as much as I might have.

I finished This is How You Lose the Time War by Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar next, though I’d started it before taking up The Thousand Names. It was actually the first novel selected for our book club. I loved the lyrical nature of the book and the largely epistolary structure. Other readers were not as enamoured. El-Mohtar is a poet. So am I (sometimes). I really got into the words, savoured them, rolled them around on my tongue and in my brain. Loved.

Witchmark, by C.L. Polk, was an enchanting (pun intended) read. It was so good I can’t wait to get into the rest of the series 🙂

Alice Payne Rides is Kate Heartfield’s follow up to Alice Payne Arrives. It was interesting reading this so soon after This is How You Lose the Time War. There were enough similarities that I wonder if El-Mohtar might have been influenced by Heartfield’s Alice, at least in part.

Catherine Hernandez’ Crosshairs was a bit of a harrowing read. It’s a dystopia, which takes as its genesis that Canada followed our neighbours to the south in instituting a totalitarian, fundamentalist, and fascist regime. In fact, Hernandez imagines a Canada that goes even farther, instituting workhouses for all “others,” be they people of colour, Indigenous peoples, LGBTQ2S+, or followers of religions other than Christianity. An excellent novel that challenges everything you think Canada is.

I then listened to Tanya Talaga’s All Our Relations. Excellent. I now want to find out more about the Sami, Scandinavia’s Indigenous people.

Finally, I read Roshani Chokshi’s The Bronzed Beasts, the third book in the trilogy that began with The Gilded Wolves. Yum! Bittersweet ending that in some ways reminded me of The Invisible Life of Addie Larue.

And that was the last two months in this writer’s life.

Until next time, be well and stay safe; be kind and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

NaNoWriMo 2021 wrap post

As promised, here is a fulsome review of my experience of NaNoWriMo 2021.

The plan

I had no expectation of winning this year. Because I had just come out of an autistic burnout and was finding writing or revising anything challenging, I decided to be a NaNo Rebel again this year and I set my goal low.

In addition to revising Reality Bomb and filling in my chapter and scene map for the novel, I was going to write my Speculations column for DIY MFA, work on a short story (I had hoped, more than one), and to round things out, I also counted my blogging. In short, I counted everything I wrote in the month.

Even so, I thought I’d only get 30,000 words revised on RB, 2,500 words each on the short story and blog, and 1,000 words on my column. 36,000 words seemed like a reasonable goal.

The progress

I did have the first two weeks of November off work. I was kind to myself, got a solid 8 hours sleep each night, ate well, walked Torvi twice a day, watched television and streaming, and played a computer game as a nightly reward. I didn’t put any pressure on myself. I think it was a good approach 🙂

Between RB and the map, I revised 44,854 words, or 150% of my goal.

I finished my short story in 1,424 words, which was only 57% of my goal. I also submitted it.

I blogged 2,138 words, or 86% of that goal.

On my column, I wrote 1,653 words, which was 165% of my goal there.

Plus, I wrote 360 words on a little side project.

I wrote 5,575 words of the 6,000 I had intended to. That’s 93% of my writing goal.

My winning total for NaNoWriMo 2021 is 50,899, but when I add everything I recorded up, it totals 50,429. So, I made a mistake of 470 words somewhere. Still, I won!

Evidence …
I was all over the place!
The only badge I didn’t get was recording 1,667 every day.

The pivot

I had expected my progress to slow when I returned to work. And it did, but the progress I’d made in the two weeks I was off, plus the work I was able to do on the weekends was enough to shore up the low production days.

I’ve hit a problematic part of RB at this point, though. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it’s the mid-point of the novel. Yes, my middle is saggy. It’s going to require some thought and strategic thinking to tighten it up.

So, I’m going to take another little break, let things percolate for a bit, decorate the house for Christmas (which I haven’t done for … years), and marshal my resources.

I don’t know if I’ll get back to revisions later this month or wait until the new year. I’m going to take the same approach I did with NaNo. I’m going to be kind to myself, set reasonable expectations, and do what I can.

The other factor at play is my recent diagnosis as autistic. I’ve found a therapist, joined a support group, and I’m looking at workplace accommodations. And I’m working full time. I know there are a lot of authors who work full time, but with this new understanding of, and context for my life, I can see the times when I’ve been overwhelmed and burned out. I can’t do it all, all the time.

This weekend, I’ll be posting my next chapter update for October and November (the November piece should be short, ‘cause mini updates).

Until then, be well and stay safe; be kind and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

NaNoWriMo 2021, week 4, mini update

This will be a super quick update today. I’ll have a more complete update on the 30th. Or maybe the 1st. Depending on how I feel. I usually need to take a bit of a break after the blitz.

The plan

 Keeping on as I was keeping on appears to be working out 🙂

The progress

Between revision on Reality Bomb and filling in its map, I put in 11,484 words.

I wrote 393 words on my short story. Probably only going to get the one done this month.

And this post is 162 words.

Total for the week: 12,039 words.

Running total for NaNoWriMo 2021: 49,861 words.

Think I’ll make the 50k? Yeah, me, too 🙂

The pivot

There are only two days left (!) No time to pivot, even if I wanted to.

As mentioned of the top, I’ll be posting a NaNoWriMo 2021 wrap up on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Until then, be well and stay safe; be kind and stay strong. The world needs your stories!