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NaNoWriMo 2017

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It is that time of year again! NaNoWriMo is right around the corner and this year is going to be a serious challenge for me. For those of you who have no idea what NaNoWriMo means, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in a month in November.

I have been doing NaNoWriMo since 2012. I have only “won” twice, in 2014 and 2015. I have written a number of draft for novels though none have quite gotten past the initial draft stage. I use NaNo as a time to get as much of the idea onto paper as I can. Sometimes the stories just get stuck and I have to place them to the side until I can determine if they have anything to them.

Winning NaNo is difficult. You start off full of determination but as the month wears on you realize that writing a novel in a month is not easy. Many people get stuck in the middle and have no idea how to move forward. You get that beginning moving and when you hit the middle everything comes to a screaming halt.

Or you set up a schedule and in the end figure out that it just will not work for every day. One you miss that first day of words you find yourself trying to catch up and sometimes it just seems nearly impossible. The two times I have “won” I have been working until the last day. The years I have not won is because I get behind and can’t close that gap.

I love doing NaNo because I love the challenge. It pushes me to get as much of my novel done as I can. I need to get as many words down as I can throughout the month. I also make it more of a challenge for myself because of the fact that I hand write everything then type it up. Sometimes I think that makes it that much harder for myself.

This year will be my biggest challenge because I currently work two jobs and finding time to write has been difficult. I want to use November to see how I can better use my time. I know that “winning” this year may not be in the cards. I have two major work events in the middle of the month and then there is Thanksgiving and a shopping day with my brother. So I know there will be at least 4 days where I will get almost no writing done. But I want to see what I can do.

The best part of NaNo is that there is no real way to lose, unless you never start I guess. As long you get something written and get that work moving then it is worth the time. You may not get 50,000 words done but getting any words one the paper is what counts. Novels don’t get written by thinking about the story, they have to become physical for anyone to read them. NaNo helps give that push in order for you to get started. Once you have something on paper you have something work with.

This year I am going to be working on the novel I have been working on for two years now. It is about a world where alternate universe are kept in books and timelines, every choice made results is a new life and new world. Callie is in charge of keeping everything in order but once The Voices threaten her life and sanity she runs, leaving things to deteriorate. A group of people whose lives begin to devolve because of her choice must find her and put life right again.

I love the idea and have been struggling with particulars of it. Some pieces don’t fit and I have had trouble explain other aspects. Recently I rethought a huge portion of the story, got rid of a useless character and I now think I have it in a position where it can really roll. I am going to use NaNo to push this story as far as I can and see where I end up.

Who else is taking on this challenge in November? If you need a writing buddy find me on the site, my username is Shmibby. I would love to have some virtual writing friends to work on this with.

Good Luck to all those doing NaNoWriMo this year!

NaNoWriMo is Right Around the Corner!

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_participantI first came across NaNoWriMo when a friend on Facebook posted about it. I read her post and thought the concept sounded interesting. Spend the month of November writing a novel? Why not give it a shot and see what I could do.

That first NaNoWriMo I did in 2012 was a major flop. I had serious trouble finding time to write and lost the story about half way through. I was disappointed that I didn’t succeed but I still loved the idea. 2013 rolled around and I decided to try again. Again I failed at the challenge.

So for 2014 I decided to try something a bit different. I went from being a pantser to a plotter, well a half-plotter, and this was the first time I succeeded. It felt awesome to have written so much in such a short amount of time. But what I wrote was pretty useless. It was all over the place and I didn’t even actually finish the story. I had written  basic outline that allowed me to finish the challenge but not detailed enough to become anything real.

Last year was the first time I attempted the challenge, won and wrote something that I believed had potential. I wrote the first draft of the novel I am working on right now. I am currently on the second draft of it but I am in love with my story. 2015 NaNoWriMo was the  first time I found myself falling in love with what I had written during that month.

So for this year I am yet again taking up the challenge. During the month of November I will be writing the sequel to my current novel. I am hoping the by getting a rough draft of the sequel written it will help me connect to my characters better. I am also hoping to make sure that any long running plot lines are hinted at or at least known about while I finish writing the second draft of the first novel. I am hoping the challenge this year will get me closer to my characters and spark some serious work for the first one.

1280px-Stipula_fountain_penThis year I am also hoping to get more involved with the community aspect of NaNoWriMo. I am usually very solitary when I write. Mostly because I am always worried about saying the wrong thing or doing something that would make me look dumb in the forums. But I really need to begin building a community in the writing world and I think this would be a good first step into doing that. I plan on becoming involved in the message boards and even seeing if there are any write-ins being held in my area.

My name for NaNoWriMo is Shmibby, if you are participating be sure to connect and we can become writing buddies!

I am excited to see what comes from next month! Good luck to everyone who is taking part! Now, time for me to head back to outlining!

Storylines That Drive Me Crazy!

1280px-Stipula_fountain_penThere are a number of storylines that I love and adore. There are character types that I gravitate toward and connect to easily. But then there are storylines that make me groan out loud. There are just some plot lines that I cannot understand and have never read in an enjoyable way.

I was talking with my mom the other day about stories and we ended up discussing plot lines that drive us crazy. There are two that came to mind for me as we talked, two that I cannot see myself ever actually writing. I have seen these in books, on TV and in movies. They are common and that may be one of the reasons they drive me nuts. They are overdone and done the same way time after time.

Now this is not meant to hate on anyone who writes these storylines. I understand that sometimes they are necessary and unavoidable. And there is a possibility that I may end up having to write some form of these for a story in the future. But I will avoid it with all my heart if I can, without sacrificing the story in the process, that is. Again I am in no way taking down any writers who use these plot lines in their stories, these are just ones that irritate me to no end.

The first storyline that irks me is the, I will hide a secret from you in order to “protect,” you, one. This is my number one pet peeve when it comes to stories. I have audibly groaned and swore when I’ve read this or seen it on TV or in a movie. Hearing a character tell someone they can’t know something because it is for their own safety makes me want to scream.

This is common in the superhero genre as well as the supernatural genre. Most recently this has driven me crazy in the show The Flash. (If you haven’t caught up yet with the show, minor spoilers ahead). Barry has a girlfriend that he is falling in love with, Patty. He is always running off and canceling dates with her under mysterious circumstances. Patty, of course, is suspicious and gets upset. Who wouldn’t? He is always running off without any explanation. Of course, she questions the relationship and if there anything true between them. I would!

But Barry refuses to tell her who he is because he is afraid that his enemies will come after her. He refuses to put her in danger. This is always the justification for this type of behavior. It is all too dangerous for you, I know the situation best. I will keep everything from you in order to save you. Though they always end up having friends who they have by their side. It is okay for them to be in this supposed danger but not for this significant other.

Yes, I know that usually the hero believes they understand the situation and is doing it for the best. But is it always for the best? Usually, no. Most of the time they lose or almost lose their boyfriend/girlfriend in the process. Of course, the other person is tired of being lied to and not trusted. It gets tiring being in that relationship. There is this huge hole that hovers between the two of them. The protagonist is always having to hide while the other person has to figure out what is happening. Suspicions arise, and trust is broken or not formed. It is no surprise when the significant other leaves.

What aggravates me the most about this is it diminishes the significant
other’s character. It weakens them. That person is shown to be naive and unable to take care of themselves. Instead of sitting them down and explaining everything that has happened and can happen, and then letting them use the information to decided if they are going to stay or go, the hero makes that decision for them. All of a sudden, you have an uneven dynamic between the two characters. The significant other is now the damsel that has to be saved, instead of being able to take care of themselves. Sure, it may be too much but the other person should be able to decide that for themselves.

I can personally say that it would piss me off to no end if I was with someone and they kept something from me because they didn’t think I could take care of myself. That proves they have no trust in me. I may not understand it all right away but you learn fast in those situations. I can then say either, “I can handle this!” or “Hell no, this is too much. Too scary and too dangerous. I’m out.”

I want to see this storyline with the significant other being given the ability to make the decision for themselves. I want the protagonist to trust the person they chose. To think that they could be able to listen and stay protected. Their friends are able to do it so why can’t their lover do it as well? Is their lover less capable than a friend? I would hope not.

Have you read a book or seen a movie where this storyline is done differently? Where the hero doesn’t keep everything from them because of this “safety,” issue? I would love to read it or see it be done differently. I would love for my opinion to be changed on this one!

As an off-shoot from this one, there is the storyline where the hero or protagonist tries to run away because they have to “protect,” everyone. Again when has that ever worked out well? Harry tries to do it in the last Harry Potter book, upset because people keep getting hurt and killed around him. He thinks without him they will be safe, which is ridiculous. Thankfully Ron calls him out on it and snaps him back to reality.

The running away trope never helps anyone. No one is safer without the protagonist! They are usually in much more danger than before. They do not save anyone by doing this. I dislike this because it makes the protagonist arrogant and selfish. They are apparently the only ones who understands anything that is going on around them. It is very rare that the problem they are dealing with affects them and only them. Running from friends or keeping their significant other at arms length never helps anything. Tell the people you care about and have them help. That usually is how things end well and no one gets hurt. Secrets get people killed.

The second storyline that drives me crazy is closely related to the above, centered more around the significant other’s reaction. It is again where one of the characters is either being threatened or has a secret. They become distant because of it and their significant other automatically starts to believe that they are being cheated on or are going to be broken up with. They assume that the distant is because of infidelity, or some other similar betrayal.

Now, sometimes this may make sense but a lot of the times it doesn’t. This happens most of the time when the two characters have a relationship that is supposed to be solid, one they have built for years. Never has the fear of infidelity been an issue before. Never have they had any distrust in their partner. Now without any discussion, they assume the worst.

What annoys me most about this one is that no one ever talks about it! They never corner their boyfriend/girlfriend and demand to know what is going on. If they do ask, they ask once, get a shitty answer and then walk away, convinced they have their true answer. Instead, I would like to see the other person stand their ground.

This is what I want to see:
Significant other: “ Where are you going? You’ve been distant lately. Rarely talking to me. Weird calls and going off without any details. What is going on?”

Protagonist: “Nothing. I’m fine. Just a few work things.”

Significant other: “Bullshit. Try again. You aren’t doing any work things. So either you are cheating on me, which you better not be, or you are hiding something else. Talk.”

Protagonist: “I can’t. You wouldn’t understand.”

Significant other: “Try me. I can do this back and forth all night. You will tell me what is going on sooner or later. I know something is wrong. I know you well enough to know you are keeping something from me. I know us well enough to know that it isn’t another person. So don’t insult me by keeping this game going.”

This would then go on for a bit longer until the protagonist finally started talking. I want to see this because it would show that the characters understand what kind of relationship they have. I want to see that they know each other. Sure, cheating could be it but it never is. Hell, this done in sitcoms where one person is setting up some big party or getaway and meeting with a friend to plan it. The other always thinks they are cheating, never tries to think about anything else.

Trust the other one. This whole thing diminishes the trust between the two people. It makes them seem like they don’t actually know one another. I hate that. If you do all this work to build these two people relationship, don’t destroy them in one moment with this kind of thing. This could very well be a way to strengthen their relationship even more.

These are just some of the plot lines that drive me crazy. I know they are similar, playing off each other. I have seen these and read them often. As I stated I am not trying to tear anyone down who uses them and sometimes they are necessary but think about how this affects the story. Does it help the characters at all? Or does it diminish one or both of the characters? Is it what you want from them? Or is another, more original way to tell this story?

If you have read any these plot lines that are done differently or are flipped on their head from this I would love to hear about them. I would love to read or see this done in a new way. Please feel free to share the titles or authors with me!

Why do I Write? Because Harry Potter & J.K. Rowling Showed Me the Magic of Words & Stories

12088190_10153209766583333_537171791531971859_nWhen I finally got my paperback copy of my book, that I had spent over a year writing and perfecting, I knew the exact place I was going to place it on my bookshelf. The only proper place for something so important to me was right next to the book series that was the reason I became a writer in the first place. So I placed my own book, Is There More? right beside the Harry Potter series, where I can see it everyday.

It has been a long year for me not only perfecting my stories but also learning how to self-publish this collection. Throughout that year there was many times that I doubted what I was doing and wondered if I could actually do it. And every time I had that moment I would look over at my bookshelf and remember why I wanted to do this.

I know the Harry Potter series and J.K.Rowling herself have done a lot for many people. The series opened up the magical world that is reading to so many who had closed the door on it perviously. The series gave people somewhere to escape to and provided characters we all could relate to. The series brought together people of all ages through a mutual love of this world and this story.

I always loved to read. Reading has always been my escape when the world around me gets too difficult or confusing. I loved to read before I ever picked up the first Harry Potter book. But what reading that specific series did for me was show me the power that words truly have. It showed me that words can change the way people perceive the world and interact with it. And I quickly realized that I wanted to do that with my life.

I found the first Harry Potter book at a book fair, one of my favorite things at school. I picked it up because it was a fantasy story about wizards and sounded interesting. I had no idea what I was holding in my hands. I had no idea it would be a series that would capture the heart of so many around the world. I did not know that this one book was my own gateway to where I wanted to take my life and would give me a pathway for my own career.

I devoured that book along with the second and third. I remember when the fourth one came out I was not able to attend a midnight release. My aunt actually bought me the fourth book (which I greatly appreciated) but I had to wait a few days to get it. I remember sitting on my front porch disappointed that others were able to read the book while I had to wait. I did not want to wait, I had waited long enough to enter back into that world. But I read it the whole eight hour drive to my another aunt’s house, enthralled as I knew I would be.

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Me and my mom with our copies of Deathly Hallows!

I did attend release parties for the last three books and even dressed up for the seventh book’s release. I loved falling into that world even when I was not in the pages. The series gave me a way to belong and I desperately needed that at that time. I felt a part of something, something big and I loved that.

I needed to feel part of something because in my early school years I felt like I did not belong anywhere. Harry fighting through all that he did and still winning gave me hope. I was not a popular kid in my early school days and I held onto Harry and his world as a way to not feel completely left out. While the series gave me a way to belong and a way to find confidence in myself, it also helped me realize what I could do with my own pen.

I began writing with fanfiction. I wrote stories about what I thought would happen to Harry and Ron and Hermione in between the release of the books. I needed a way to fill that gap and that was how I did it. They were not the best stories, full of grammar issues, plot holes and inconsistencies, but they were my way of releasing my imagination onto the page. People read them and didn’t hate them and I began to wonder if this could be my talent.

For a long time I wondered if I actually had a talent at all. I was not good at a lot of things. I tried everything from baton, dancing, clarinet to volleyball and softball and I honestly sucked at them all. I was good at being bad at things and it became kind of a running joke for me. I laughed about it but it did get old quick. I watched everyone around me do things well and I wondered when I would find what I was good at and enjoyed.

I found Harry Potter and picked up my pen. I saw what J.K. Rowling did with her imagination and her words. I realized that words have power and if used correctly they can do wondrous things. Words can change people’s worlds and how they see themselves. I began writing  fanfiction and after floundering for a long time I found what I wanted to do.

I denied what I wanted for a while though, even went to collage for Zoology, thinking that writing could only be a hobby. But I quickly figured out that I could not put writing on the back-burner. Whenever Zoology got too hard and I couldn’t take the science courses anymore I read or I wrote. I knew that I wanted to do what J.K. Rowling did, open up a new world to someone, anyone, anywhere. I wanted to use my own imagination and show the world something new and provide an escape as well.

I can safely say that J.K. Rowling is the only celebrity that I ever looked up to or used as a role model. There were celebrities that I liked but I did idolize them. But J.K. Rowling was different . She created this world for all of us and she has kept it alive all these years.

Her prose is fantastic. Her characters are deep and full of life. The story is one we all can find a way to relate to and the twists and turns are exciting and thrilling. But what I loved most about J.K. Rowling is that she has not walked away from this world. She did not hang up her cloak when she wrote that last word on that last page. She knows how important Harry Potter is to so many and she continues to live in the world right beside the rest of us.

She created a family tree for all of the characters. She continues to give us extra information about the characters and wands and so much else through Pottermore. This year was James Potter (Harry’s son) first day of Hogwarts and she wished him well and even told us what house he was sorted into. It is exciting and heart-warming to see someone so in love with their own work.

At the premier of the last part of the last movie she said, “ Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” I love that quote. I love that she understands how much Hogwarts has become home to so many and hopefully will continue to be for years to come. Whenever I become discouraged or frustrated while writing I pull out a Harry Potter book or just look over at my bookshelf and remember why I am doing what I am doing.

J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter showed me what I want to do with my own writing. I not only want to sweep people away to somewhere fun and exciting full of relatable characters but I want to show them a new way to see the world and themselves. I do not know what I would be doing now if I had not found the Harry Potter series. And I don’t actually want to know. I love the path I am on. It is not an easy one and figuring this all out can be difficult but I am determined to keep going forward. J.K. Rowling took a chance with writing the Harry Potter series and I am grateful she did. If I can make a sliver of the impact that J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter has done for me for anyone else I will consider myself a success.

Once Upon a Time – 4X04 – The Apprentice – Review (Spoilers)

AnnaRumpleIn this episode “Apprentice,” we learned what the hat in the box is for and a lot questions sprang up about what Rumple is doing and what his end plans are. We also got an introduction to a power struggle that is going to go on between Hook and Rumple. They both want to take each other out and believe that without the other they can have the happy ending they desire. I have a feeling much of at least the first half of this season will be these two continually shoving at each other trying to take the other one out.

This episode opened with the dark one before Rumple trying to steal the box with the hat in it from the apprentice. He does not succeed because of an enchantment on it that says that only those who have no succumbed to the darkness inside themselves can have the box. The apprentice says that every dark one has tried and has failed because of this exact reason.

What this box holds is a hat that when it is charged it makes the wearer or the one who possesses it invincible and all powerful. Rumple and all the other dark ones want it because even thought they have this extensive power they are tied to the dagger. Whoever possesses the dagger controls them. Rumple desires more than anything to be completely free.

Rumple found the box in the house where he and Belle honeymooned. Whose house is this? Is it connected to Anna is some way? Anna was the last one we saw to have the box and if she lost it who did she lose it to? And is this all connected to Ana being missing? Is she really missing? Also did Rumple comes to this house because he knew the box was there? Was this all part of some bigger plan of his?

If this is some bigger plan what does Rumple want with this power? He spent much of last season saying that he changed and he wanted to live a better life for his son and Belle. Now that Neil is dead has his way of thinking seems to have changed. We can see plainly that no matter how many times he says he has changed that is not completely true; if it was he was he would not be being capturing people in this hat. Belle doesn’t even have the real dagger because Rumple can not relinquish control over himself to anyone. He can not let anything be able to hold him back.

So does he want this hat so that he can be completely free and not have to worry about the dagger? So he charges the hat and gets away from the dagger then what? He is not going to just sit around with all this power and not use it in any way. He has a plan for it and he has an endgame as he alway does, we just haven’t gotten enough clues to find out what it is yet. Rumple can keep talking about being a changed man but until he really steps away from the power of the magic inside of him he will never be able to live free. Rumple is his own worst enemy right now.

Rumple loves to manipulate people. He will always make deals. Hook came to him in this episode to get his hand back. He wanted to have both hands so that if his date with Emma went well he could truly hold Emma. He wanted to be whole for the woman he loves.

Rumple agrees because Hook blackmails him with his knowledge that Belle does not possess the real dagger. Rumple tells him thought that the hand is from the old Hook and that if he reattaches it, it could reawaken the man Hook once was. Rumple warns Hook that he could become the angry and selfish pirate once again with the hand. Hook refuses to believe him and let’s Rumple reattach the hand.

Out on his date with Emma we see Hook lose control a few times. He ends up beating Will Scarlett pretty badly when he gets caught breaking into the library. Hook is instantly afraid because he thinks that Rumple was right. He always looks to his hand as if the hand made the decision to lash out at someone and not Hook himself. He puts all the blame on his hand and has to enter into a new deal with Rumple to get his hook back and get rid of the hand. Hook is terrified that with the hand he will go back to the man he once was.

Rumple gives him back his hand and then only reveals that he was lying the whole time. The hand is just flesh and bone and nothing more, the actions that Hook did were all his own. Rumple knew exactly what he was doing when he told Hook about the hand.

fd06fd2556b4a24e63be53bcd0df4411The power of persuasion is something that we all know about. That commercial that tells you that your computer or phone is out of date and needs to be replaced or you can’t keep up with the world. This idea can control people is so many different ways. All you do is put the thought into someone’s head and let it grow. If you tell someone that by doing action A they will cause B, even if the two are not connected in any manner, B will happen nine times out of ten. And it is only because you have that idea in your head. You start making choices based off of this assumption and before you know it B takes place.

Hook was told that by reattaching his hand he would become angry, violent and selfish once again and because Rumple stuck that idea in his head it happened. Hook has been working to push those thoughts and actions to the very back of his mind for a while now. He has been working not be that person but one reminder of his past and it is all over. He assumes that he can’t escape his past and because he believes that he never will escape the man he once was.

If Hook really wants to change he can, he just needs to believe that he can. For every person who says he can’t be a good man he needs to step up and tell them off and prove them wrong. He can’t let those thoughts and ideas swim around in his head because they take root and they influence his actions. Hook needs to believe in himself or else he is going to lose himself.
Rumple manipulated Hook because he seems to need him for something. He has some bit plan and he needs someone to help him. Hook is stubborn and strong and Rumple sees how useful he can be. Hook enters into a deal to help Rumple but this partnership is not going to be a smooth one.

Both Rumple and Hook not only hate each other but have no respect for one another. They are constantly trying to take out the other one. Hook threatened Belle so Rumple threatens Emma. They know exactly how to hurt the other one and neither is willing to let themselves be hurt or the one they love to be hurt. Hook is not going down without Rumple at his side. If this all implodes on itself they both are going to get hurt. Neither will walk away from the other. Hopefully they don’t destroy each other in the process.

The other major part of this episode was Henry being determined to help Regina get her happy ending. This episode reminded us that Henry is still a child and he thinks along those lines. He still has the child way of looking at something and thinking that a solution is easy, simple, black and white. Robin Hood still loves Regina so that is great for them right? Regina tells him that ,“There are somethings you are too young to understand.” And she could not be more right. What is going on between Regina and Robin Hood is much more complicated then just true love finding a home. There are so many grey areas and questions that Henry doesn’t understand.

Which is why him helping Regina with the book may not be the best thing. Henry thinks that happy endings are neat and tidy. He says that Rumple is married to Belle so he must have a found a way to get his happy ending and change the book. But Rumple does not have a happy ending right now. He has Belle but the rest of his life is a mess. The question becomes what makes a happy ending? As I stated before many of these characters may have all the pieces they needs for their happy endings they just don’t see how to put them together right now. I feel like Henry is going to be very upset and disappointed when he learns that getting a happy ending for Regina is not going to be simple and easy.

Quotes:
“Nothing can change me back,” – Hook- The only thing that can change him back is Hook himself. If he fights to be the good man he wants to be then he can win. If he lets Rumple and others stay in his head, he is doomed.

“You took the most precious thing in this world and turned it into a weapon.”
“Love is a weapon. Always has been. Just so few people know how to wield it,” – Rumple and Anna – This is a very important exchange. Love is a very powerful weapon, something Ana has already seen with her sister saving her. It all depends on how you use love. You can use it to save those you love or you can use it manipulate people and destroy. Love is a powerful weapon made more powerful by the person using it.

Questions:
Can Hook block out all those voices and be able to find the good in him and live through that side of him?
Does he have enough faith in himself to win this fight?
Will Rumple and Hook working together destroy the both of them in the end?
Can Hook let his love for Emma and his desire to be good win out over the darkness he still holds inside himself?
Whose house had that box? Ana’s? Someone else connected to Elsa and Ana?
What are Rumple’s plans for the box? To get pure freedom? Something bigger? Defeat someone?
Will Henry being Rumple’s apprentice be a good or bad thing?
What will Henry learn?
Is this arrangement going to help Henry grow or is it dangerous for him?
Does Rumple really have a happy ending right now with Belle? Is his refusal to see that going to destroy everything?
When does this all take place in connection to Once Upon a Time in Wonderland?
What is Will Scarlet’s story? What happened to the red queen?

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