writing

NaNo Update

My NaNo is off to a good start!

I figured I would give people the opportunity to follow along with me if you would like.?.?

So here is a way to keep track of my total word count with a handy bar graph showing how many words I have out of 50,000.

 

And it is even possible to keep up with my daily writing goals as well. Aka don’t invite me to hang out when I am having a red or orange or yellow day.

So follow along with me if you would like to see where this goes. (I know I would sure like to.)

 

And finally, an excerpt of my latest scene (subject to change, of course, during my edits):

So she ran straight ahead, willing her body to not give away her thoughts and she pumped her arms and ran faster and faster towards the figure with the sword raised, ready to attack, and then at the last moment, she hooked her arm around a tree and flung her body in a new direction, willing her feet to stay planted beneath her and sprinted onwards, farther from her meeting place then she would like to be, but if she survived, then she could circle back and remain alive.

Her proud moment did not last too long, however, because she heard no commotion that she would have left behind. All she heard was, well, nothing.

No sword fight.

No heavy breathing.

No shouts.

No bodies fall to the floor.

Nothing.

And that left her mind racing in a hundred different directions.

She was thinking too much that she missed the figure standing ahead of her.

Are you wondering what is going to happen next? Me too. Join the club.

Being a pantser is loads of fun.

Back to writing.

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writing

It is Almost Time for NaNoWriMo

So November is coming, which means the start of another NaNoWriMo! And I am so excited and motivated this year to finally write an entire first draft of my novel.

If any of you have no clue what I am talking about, and think I just hit the keyboard with that weird string of letters…let me break it down for you.

Na: National

No: Novel

Wri: Writing

Mo: Month

NaNo is an organization that encourages people to write their entire first draft of their novel (50,000-60,000 words) within the month of November. And it is an organization that has been near and dear to my heart for the past five years, because it has lead me to a community of like-minded people at a time when I was really lost at the beginning of my studies. As silly and dramatic as it sounds, getting involved in a writing community has helped me discover and chase my writing dreams, no matter how impossible they will be.

You can check out NaNo’s website if you want to learn all about it, participate in it, or just have a clue about what the heck I am doing with my time!

Or if you would rather hear about NaNo in my own words, I even wrote an article describing the process for my college’s paper that you can check out here. 

But the reason I am writing this in a blog is because this year I am a serious participant. Before now, I was only writing for fun. I would join in on word sprints with some of my favorite authors on Twitter, frequently update my word count in between classes or my work schedule. I was never really concerned about doing more than just getting words on paper in my free time.

And now, things are different. My workload is light (aka still job hunting). I have no more classes (at the moment) that I need to focus on and write papers for. I have had a summer of adventures, meeting all new people from all different sorts of backgrounds in new environments, and unforgettable experiences that I would like to translate into some stories. And I want to continue my momentum from the summer to chase my dreams. So becoming a published author won’t happen if I don’t first put in the time and write the first draft.

And to prove how serious I am this year, I am going to share some of my story details on my blog…and that way all of my followers can hold me accountable and push me when I start running out of steam halfway through the month. Or even only a couple of days in.

This year I am working on a fantasy novel (and remember this is just a very rough draft that is all subject to change because I will probably hate it).

And my title is…

Drumroll please.

Heroic Night.

Totally lame, I know. I had some help from a fantasy title generator. And hopefully it will evolve when I have more written.  But I need a place to start.

Once I actually begin my writing (that will count towards my word count goals) November 1st, this story will be about adventure, romance, action, and drama––all of my favorite topics. And I am hear to write the book that I would want to read, so let’s see how this goes.

nano-challenge

So far, I have some basic characteristics for my characters:

Heroine is a doer, headstrong, solo traveler, independent, and questions everything around her.

Hero is fearless and reckless, lives without consequences.

A setting:

Medieval Fantasy World

Maybe the rest will come to me once I finally begin writing. Like their names maybe? Fingers crossed.

What I have so far may sound familiar to some of you, who have listened to me ramble on about my favorite series, because that author, Sarah J. Maas and Jane Austen (who are my two favorite authors) are my inspiration for my own writing. And at the moment, my genre probably comes from the TOG reread I have been participating in, in preparation for the final book release in a few days.

If you are interested in keeping up with my progress, and in holding me accountable, you can view my daily word count stats here. 

In addition, I could use some more writing buddies! So please share if you are participating, too, and we can push each other!

I’ll leave you with a small excerpt:

“And just before I curl up on my couch with my latest book, is there a firm and quiet knock on my door.

Not unusual for this time of day, just before everyone has made it home for dinner, the sun only just beginning it’s descent. But it was the actual knock that made her suspicious. Her friends yell through the door or barge in. Her neighbors are more hesitant to knock at all, and usually pair it with a chirped hello before barging in.”

Ok, now I am going back to my writing cave to start plotting. Wish me luck and no writer’s block! 

book review

What a Perfect Time for a TOG Reread

Hey all!

Since I got home from my trip, my life has been turned upside down with job hunting, dating dramas, and a whole bunch of other changes in my social life that now has me reevaluating things and I am sort of stuck in this creative rut. So bear with me while I slowly make my way out of it and back into the real world. And continue on with my travel posts.

On the other hand, though, the final book by my favorite author (Sarah J. Maas) is coming out in October (maybe you noticed the KOA countdown on the side here) so I am joining in with the publishers and all of the other fans in a massive reread of all of the books in the series. And of course now I need to catch up since they started in July––meaning I am already 4 books behind schedule!!! Yikes!

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Currently working on reading Throne of Glass. And my goal of reading the whole thing in one sitting has already expanded to a few days. Hopefully not much longer than this.

So just a general note about this series is that it is so good and everyone should seriously give it a read. And I don’t want to spoil things (even though I hate people who say stuff like this and don’t share any of the juicy details) but the whole series is set up like a mystery where you literally do not know anything that is going on if you hear people talking about characters from later books when you are still in the beginning. And this is a hilarious fandom joke. So I am going to be very vague in my descriptions. It will be a lot of fun.

Favorite cover: Queen of Shadows. Without a doubt or hesitation. I love the colors. I love the armor. I love that she looks so badass and ready to take on the world. Which is good because that is actually what she has to do in this book.

Favorite title: The Assassin’s Blade

Favorite character: Sam or Aedion or Aelin with Fenrys as a close second (it literally depends on what scene I am reading at the moment)

Character I am most like: Aelin Ashyver Galathynius. Seriously just ask my sisters. They are the ones who told me this!

Most important chant: Aedion deserves his blood oath 2k18!

Favorite scene: In Rolf’s office when there are two of Aelin and they are complimenting each other and she is flirting with Rowan pretending she doesn’t know him and Rolf has no idea what is going on and everyone knows her by a different name/ personality/ identity and they are just all watching each other’s reactions. I promise you once you know all of the drama and characters it is so funny.

Favorite quote released from Kingdom of Ash:

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This is really a life changing series and I am so happy each time I get someone else to start reading it.

The main character has been through the ringer and back since she was young and we still don’t know if she will get her happily ever after in the end after she saves the rest of the world. Each book adds more to our beloved heroine while expanding the world of Erilea and the impending end of the world.

Add in all of the enemies that our girl makes and how she still gets them to ally with her and how some of her old enemies become her greatest and most trusted friends and that everyone always seems to come together in the biggest/ most epic battle scenes and you can’t even come close to all this series has to offer.

There are foreshadowing clues everywhere, minor characters from book 1 taking on major roles later in the series. Easter eggs galore. Even drama with the gods messing with fate and creating this giant mess in the first place––and making it worse by helping characters come to the beginning of the end.

I have never felt as excited and dreadful of an end of the series book as I do this one. Maas’s other series ACOTAR is such a lighthearted read in comparison to TOG––the main characters that die don’t actually stay dead in ACOTAR whereas everyone is fair game except Fleetfoot. The dog.

Everyone’s theories have me freaking out. And I am reading with a notebook beside me, taking notes so I can try my hand at my own detective work and guess about what is going to happen in the end.

My current reading intentions are that I just absorb all of the names and details that I can so that I will be completely prepared for anything that comes our way in Kingdom of Ash. Which means a lot of me writing down names of characters, gods, their swords, dates, rhymes, quotes and lots and lots of page numbers. I don’t want to have to go back through all 3,840 other pages to remind myself of a fuzzy detail. I will be totally prepared for the final 992 pages of this epic series.

Fantasy, romance, drama, arrogance, swagger, thrones, kingdoms, sacrifice, and a save-the-world plot…what more could you ever need in a good book?

kingdomofashcover1

travel, writing

Travel is Good for the Soul

Sadly, all good things must come to a close.

But I feel that my trip was exactly the soul-searching opportunity that I needed. Not to be totally dramatic, but I feel like I have a direction in life again and goals that I am working towards both in my career and personal life.

And I am so looking forward to being reunited with all of the incredible & amazing people who I have met along my own journey.

Thank you to everyone I met for everything that you taught me––from the little things like “the restaurant around the corner has really good dumplings” to the helpful advice that saved me a lot of stress for the entirety of my trip (the GoEuro app) to just simply hearing people’s different world views. I don’t know if I can really put into words the impact that everyone I have met along the way has had on my life, but all I can say is that I will forever love meeting new people from all over the world and becoming more open-minded, culturally aware, and all of the other great things that come from conversing with other travelers.

  • I received cooking lessons from a new Polish friend in my hostel kitchen in Salzburg.
  • Cultural lessons from a Parisian woman whose parents are from Tunisia and Morocco over dinner in Dubrovnik.
  • Dining (and wedding) etiquette from my best friends in Italy.
  • Tours of all different cities and castles, cooking lessons, gardening lessons, and even apartment hunting from my cousin in Germany.
  • The world cup excitement from every European person from bus drivers, to bartenders, to people I passed along the street.

I became more outgoing––able to hold a conversation, ask anyone for directions, or to ask someone to take a picture for me or with me. I learned how to navigate any city’s public transportation (though I still get lost with public busses) and cultural differences or at least where to learn if I couldn’t figure it out on my own.

I also learned a lot about the things that I should and should not have packed. Good news is anything that I forgot at home, I would have been able to buy in almost any city that I visited. Bad news is I way, way, overpacked. And even though it was a small carry-on bag, there were some clothing items that I still didn’t even wear.

The unnecessary items:

  • I had 3 UK adaptors and only 1 European adaptor. And even though I did not know if I was going to make it back to the UK before the end of my trip, I could have sent some of those home with my family. I learned you only need 1 adaptor for each type of outlet. And if you forget one, they are pretty cheap to buy. I spent way more time using my European adaptor and really just carried the other ones around from city to city.
  • Also related to chargers, I brought 2 portable chargers with me. I only really used the more powerful one––which saved me many times during my trip because it was able to recharge my phone 3-4 times. And it was so convenient in my hostels when I didn’t want to leave my phone across the room charging––I only had to leave my portable charger there and then in the morning I could charge my phone while I got started with my day.

The extra items:

  • My clothes. And yes, it is true that you don’t know what types of clothes you will need when you don’t even have a solid plan for where the day will take you, but no matter how long you are traveling for, you won’t need more than a week’s worth of clothes. I didn’t need more than a couple of shorts, a couple of pants, a few shirts, a sweater, sweatshirt, hat, and scarf. Everything that can be worn together and layered. I even made a friend who actually only brought 2 pairs of shorts…and then he lost one of them. I also regretted bringing so much because then I couldn’t justify getting the latest European fashion if it couldn’t fit into my bag.
  • Also (and I fear I may get some heat for this one) I brought way too many toiletries. I had some packages of sunblock, shampoo, and even an extra soap bar that I did not touch at all. I had a shampoo bar that my sister got it for me as an early birthday present––an organic and eco friendly shampoo bar, like the ones that seem to be so popular at Lush, but this one is from her environmental school’s craft fair––which was/is a very long lasting product and I still came home with a big chunk of that left over as well. My very long winded point here is to pack the very bare essentials. Because when you run out (which you will want to happen) you could always purchase more almost anywhere you go. I did chose to forgo the conditioner, though, and that was a good decision that I just had to deal without that luxury for a couple of months.

And now for the big question: Would you do this again? Hell yeah! Now that I have done it once, I know for a fact I can handle this kind of crazy, tiring, invigorating, spontaneous, (insert any more adjectives) travel. And that I love it.

I am not sure where exactly my next journey will take place (South America and Southeast Asia are both at the top of my list) but I am excited and looking forward to all of what is to come.

And now that I am home, I will go back and complete my blog posts for every city that I visited. So stay tuned…

 

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My visit to the Salzburg Castle.

(You never know how good someone is at photography until it is too late––notice the woman’s finger in the corner. LOL!)

travel

Greetings from Europe

Hello. It’s European me, just checking in during the first stop on my summer of adventures.

(Warning: I wrote this on my phone during a bus trip which means there might be typeos or other grammatical/editing errors. And as I am not really leaving time during my travel to thoroughly edit everything I post…please don’t judge me on the mistakes from now on. Maybe I will dedicate time when I get back to America for editing. But feel free to let me know of anything you catch!)

So first I will start with my final packing count. I ended up departing New York after much chaos the moments before leaving our house with me trying to get my suitcase under the 10 kilo/22lb limit for Norwegian Airlines. (Side note for anyone flying Norwegian–they were very strict with the weight limit and weighed everything I was trying to take on the plane in one batch–and I was still over. Oops.) My sister helped me with my last minute scrambling and was, of course, entertained with my panic. That made one of us.

Obviously I wouldn’t recommend the absolute last second packing routine that I follow…especially when I realized all of the important things I forgot. Like the wedding card.

But I am still impressed with all that I did accomplish. A summer’s worth of clothes, shoes, accessories, toiletries, and more, that all fit into just 1 rolling duffel and very small backpack. Like many who backpack frequently and know how difficult it can be to lug all your unnecessary shit from one place to another, I tried to keep my items down to the bare minimum.

So here is all that I brought:

Sundress, skirt, romper
Teeshirts and tanktops
Shorts, leggings, jeans
Dress for my friend’s wedding

And once arriving in Dublin, I realized I could still cut some things out, and I sent home my bulky european adaptors (in favor of my brother’s smaller one), a few shirts, credit card receipts, and my souvenir shopping.

(Like this cute travel savings collection box that I just couldn’t pass up from New Look):

So now that I made it all the way to Ireland, my new challenge is making sure all of my clothing items and other stuff that I brought remains functional and accessible. I will be trying really hard to live off of the bare minimum…necessities only for the rest of my summer.

Wish me luck!

travel, writing

Is This May Going To Be The Best Time of My Life? Yes!

Honestly I think this is going to be the best month of my life. A Court of Frost and Starlight was finally released (May 1st––if you didn’t notice from my countdown) so I can finally read more of Feysand AND I am getting ready to head out for the adventure of my lifetime!

I cannot believe this moment is finally here. If you asked me years ago, or even months ago, if I thought I would ever be doing this, then I would have said absolutely not. But plans change. Our priorities change. And I will do nothing less than live my life to the fullest. There is so much out there in the world to see and do, and I can’t sit around anymore hoping that one day someone will finally be able and willing to see the world with me.

For those of you worried about me going on a solo adventure, I am and will do everything to reassure you that I will be fine, however, I will not let your fears slow me down. Plenty of people do what I am about to all of the time. I am comfortable navigating the old towns and more modern sections of European cities. I already have experience using public transportation in cities where I don’t even speak the language.

It is invigorating to know that I am capable of figuring out where to go and how to get there all on my own and that I will finally be able to see some of the most magical places in the world. And I am absolutely thrilled just thinking about it.

So please be excited for me rather than scared––I have been gifted this wonderful opportunity while I am figuring the rest of my life out & that I am not afraid to take it as the gift that it is. Maybe one day I will finally land my dream job & life…but for today, I will not pass up any more opportunities to enjoy the world.

The travel gives me the knowledge and experience unlike anything else. It is why people like me catch the “travel bug” and feel a need to continue seeing, learning, experiencing, and are never completely done as the world is ever-changing and so are we. We never see the same place twice because we never are the same person twice.

With all of that being said, I figured some people might be interested in hearing about how I plan to do this and what prep-work has gone into my plans.

My current shopping list keeps growing even though I keep checking things off my list. Today alone I picked up toothpaste, facial moisturizer, mascara, UPF protective clothes, and I even attempted to exchange my Sketchers for another size, but the woman ordered me the same size I returned by mistake, so now I have two pairs of shoes coming in and another return that I will need to do. It is never ending.

In addition, I have finally established my final day at all of my jobs as May 11th, which leaves me the weekend, Monday and Tuesday before my trip to say my goodbyes, pack, and get myself mentally settled.

I really have so many MAJOR things left to do. Actually sitting down to write my itinerary. And packing.

I am still not entirely sure whether I should take my new backpacking-backpack or my actual rolling suitcase.

Do I really need to buy the ticket where I can travel every day for two or three months?

Maybe these decisions would be a lot easier if and when I finish planning out and writing my itinerary…

Here is what my current thought process is looking like:

(Just wait until I crack open my growing pile of guidebooks. Then I will really get it going.)

And then I am trying to figure out how I will keep up with my blog while I am away! I will be bringing my journal to document and remember everything that I see and do…but should I share that information on here too? Or would it be better to feature one thing? Or share a single story? I don’t know. (Feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts/votes/suggestions/opinions in the comments section! I could use someone to bounce my ideas off of.)

Clearly I have too many decisions to make and too little time left. And pretty much all I want to do is reread ACOFAS. Which may be my favorite in the series––but I will get a review of that one up. Hopefully before I leave.

And as a final note, I am still welcoming any travel companions! So please get in touch with me ASAP!

Environment

What will you do for the Earth?

So today is Earth Day! And in honor of the planet, everyone should take a hard look at their lifestyle and make some changes, or just do something, to better the Earth.

This year’s Earth Day campaign is to End Plastic Pollution. Plastic waste is a major environmental issue that only seems to be escalating, exponentially. Plastic does not break down, is not compostable, and most forms of plastic are not even recyclable. Plastic is made for our one-time use disposable society and they fill up landfills rapidly as people frequently turn to disposables for the convenience of it.

Many cities, towns, and counties have been taking action against plastic bags and charging a 5¢ bag fee to encourage people to reduce the plastic waste. We can do more on the individual scale. We need to fight back against this disposable culture in every way that we can. And one of the best places to start is with your own buying decisions. Companies pay attention to the consumer choices and YOU can decide to purchase the merchandise with less packaging, less plastic, no plastic, biodegradable packaging, and even products with less processing.

In addition to this year’s to working towards this year’s campaign, there are many other ways to appreciate our planet.

Saturday, my sister and I joined her high school Interact Club in a beach cleanup. We only spent an hour and a half walking along the beach picking up all of the litter, plastic straws, and broken bottles, but I would say that it was time well spent. I was so disgusted with how many broken bottles we picked up and it just felt like a never ending task.

But it felt really good to do something. And it was so rewarding when others started joining in. Visitors to the beach saw the garbage bags and gloves and got to work. It really was a nice community moment for such a small act of community service. Beach cleanups and volunteer work are things that can be done anywhere from an individual scale to an entire organization participating. And the rewarding feeling far surpasses any effort you expend into the small task. And hopefully other will see you cleaning up and it will inspire them next.

Plus the cleanup was really fun in trying to figure out what some of the items we discovered were. Here are some of the funky things we found.

My sister thinks the bottom one is a handcuff, but I think it looks like something that would be found on a boat,  to tie the boat to the dock. Does anyone really know what it is for?

And then the middle one looks like a bullet to me. Never really seen one before, but I feel like this is what it would look like back in the day.

Then there was what we think looks like bones. And we may have just contaminated a crime scene, or perhaps someone ate chicken wings and couldn’t be bothered to throw away the bones. What do you think?

I was thrilled to have such good weather this weekend, (even though mother nature sure does have a lot to be angry with us for) and got to spend Earth Day outside, hiking, at a New York state park. My friend and I took a peaceful 4ish mile hike among many other environmentalists also out to enjoy the beautiful weather and nature.

And during our hike, the conversation never really departed from the reason for this special holiday and my friend and I discussed ways to resolve our ever-growing plastic problem.

Besides the usual solutions (forgo straws, use a reusable water bottle, change your habits, etc.) her revolutionary idea was about canning water instead of bottling it––aluminum is one of the best materials out there. So what do you think about that?

Research some options in your community to see what you can get involved in. If we treat every day like it is Earth Day, then maybe we won’t have to be so concerned about the state of the environment anymore.

Take a look at the Earth Day website to get some inspiration for what you can do on Earth Day.

travel

Preparing for my First Solo Female Travel Adventure

So as many of you already know, I am going backpacking this summer––for the whole 4 months of the summer, and I couldn’t be more thrilled!

Currently, I am in the beginning of my planning and packing stage. Still. With T minus 32 days until I start my adventure. I feel the butterflies in my stomach just thinking about my plans this summer, like a kid counting down until Christmas morning. I. Can. Not. Wait.

And then I am going to rattle the stars

  1. My last minute shopping includes things that I have learned are necessities to take on a big trip like the one I will be going on.

I just ordered a pair of very comfortable sneakers. I know I will need to opt for comfort over style because I know that I will rather walk all day to see and do everything instead of needing to take lots of breaks to rest my feet.

So, I am awaiting my pair of You Inspire by Skechers to arrive in the mail. I think they are actually cute and I got a nice, neutral color that will match with my clothes from Ireland to Italy, but more importantly, they are so comfortable. It literally feels like you are walking on a cloud when you wear these. And they are so lightweight too!

At least it won’t be my sneakers weighing down my carry on-sized suitcase. My only concern with these shoes is that the laces are just for show––you can’t tighten them or anything. My plan is to break them in before I leave to know for sure.

(You can check out my shoes if you would like.)

Next thing on my list is towels. I have been doing a lot of research on what kind of towel I should bring with me (because if you don’t know, hostels do not provide you with any basic hotel amenities, like towels) and I have found a lot of people recommend these quick dry towels that a lot of swimmers and other athletes use. These microfiber, compact, fast-absorbent towels only weigh about 9oz and take up very little room in your suitcase.

This Sunland towel from Amazon even comes with a hook attached so I can hang it to dry in my hostel (?) and it comes with the best reviews out of the tons of microfiber towels. I am still deciding on a color, though. 

My next shopping list item is getting a haircut. My intention is to be a practical traveler, and I definitely do not want my hair getting in the way of that. Plus then I can cut down on styling tools that I would otherwise want to bring to the wedding. I think that shoulder length hair will be perfect, require little maintenance, and will keep my natural curls looking healthy. Maybe I won’t even have to stock up on shampoos as often.

  1. And finally in spite of my normal procrastinating self, the last thing on my priority list is me actually planning. A plan to make plans––ironic, isn’t it?

I have already renewed the library guidebooks a few times because I keep putting off reading them and picking out the things I really want to do. I have also been putting off making my itinerary that I am making more to ease my parents’ worries than for me to actually follow.

I am definitely a fly by the seat of my pants type of person in my life as well as in the stories I write.

Along with picking out the places I am going, I have a mental checklist of the clothes and items that I need to bring. I am also considering this a part of the planning stage because I am planning on what clothes to bring. And planning on how much shampoo to take. And what suitcase to put it in. Clearly this is going to take more time.

And these ⇧ are my goals for the week.

But the good news is that I can do a Solo Female Traveler: Part 2 when I solidify my plans. So stay tuned for more updates!

(All of my packing and planning has to get done before ACOFAS release date. I am giving myself those 2 weeks before I leave to be crazy obsessed with Sarah J. Maas’s latest novella and my favorite characters)

But I actually have accomplished some things already:

✓ 3 of my 4 jobs are aware of my travel dates

✓ I own all of the travel accessories I will need (i.e. a travel scale, travel sized bottles, adaptors and converters)

✓ Mentally prepared family and friends already––some are more enthusiastic than others

✓ Checked out various European guidebooks from the library

✓ Contacted European friends to start planning a meet up

✓ Began working out so I can lift my suitcase on my own
So I am off to a good start…

What do you guys do to prepare for travel? Any advice/tips/favorite travels blogs you want to share?

writing

Always Wanted to Go to Camp?

The start of April brings Camp NaNo! Yay!

For those who don’t know, there is this organization, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) that encourages people to write an entire novel (50,000-60,000 words) each November. It is a fun, motivational organization that really makes people focus on writing, and creating that (horrible) first draft. That you can then build on. And edit. And edit. And edit. Until you are left with a semi-decent story.

This same organization has something similar going on for the month of April: Camp NaNoWriMo! This will be my first year participating in it, so I don’t know too much about things yet. It is set up as a writer’s retreat and we are sorted into cabins with other writers, giving us our own writer’s group.

If you have a creative personality, or want to be a more creative person, this is a great organization to encourage you to write it down. You don’t need to submit your writing, you do it on your own word document and just submit your word count. Every single word you write down is a win––and way more than you had yesterday. You set your own goal in Camp NaNo rather than trying to get yourself to write an entire novel.

Hopefully they can motivate me to push through my writers block that I already have from day 3. I am not counting my blog writing in it yet, so my current word count is a big fat 0. With a goal of 20,000 words. Yikes.

But in my defense, I was traveling the last couple of days (and re-reading ACOTAR again). And coming up with even more ACOTAR theories for the next book that comes out in May! (In exactly 28 days!) So maybe I will start another day, like tomorrow…

So, I just created my “camper profile,” added my project and just selected my “cabin settings” to be added into a writing group with up to 19 other writers. I will officially have a writing group! And I have to catch up on some of the messages from my cabin mates already! They all seem to be a really cool and very diverse group––with people from around the world, working on all sorts of different writing projects from poetry to novels to copy for their webpages. I think it will be really nice to get some feedback from other campers.

For those of you who are like me, and love to buy souvenirs from every minor activity I take part in, there is a gift shop too! You can purchase a winners shirt if you succeed (and any word that you write is a success) or a coffee mug to drink straight caffeine for when you need to push through the writing slump (like me).

Writing Resources: Camp Counselors and Events

An amazing feature of participating in NaNo or even Camp NaNo are all of their amazing features and programs to inspire writers. It is such an interactive and supportive community no matter your skills, involvement, or even fundraising ability.

There are “Prep” resources to assist in planning out your novel beforehand and then “Now What?” resources to help with the aftermath of your first draft––all complete with helpful tips, advice, and inspiration from authors, editors, and fellow participants. And you shouldn’t forget the inspirational power of having a group chat to connect with all sorts of writers! I know it will help to inspire me, when I see how real people are actually making progress. And we can even help each other by throwing ideas around. You never know when one word or comment or silly idea will jumpstart someone’s creative juices.

Twitter: @NaNoWriMo and @NaNoWordSprints

One of my favorite aspects of NaNo, and one that they have already brought back for Camp, is the word sprints on twitter. Anyone who follows my twitter will see me participate in these every once in a while, and now you can finally understand what my “WC” with a bunch of random numbers after means. (Hint: it stands for word count not water closet).

They occur at all times of the day for different lengths of time, allowing anyone to participate whatever their availability, free-time, or even time zone is. When I get inspired at 2am, it is motivating to be participating in a “sprint” with many other people around the world. The admins sometimes even provide a whole variety of prompts, that you can take and mold to inspire your own story.

And then after the organizers like to chat with us after about the favorite lines we wrote or most surprising thing our characters did. I really love the tweet chats.

Honestly I think I probably discovered NaNo because of Twitter. One of my favorite authors (I want to say it was Miranda Kenneally, but I don’t 100% remember) was participating in it while she was working on her next book. And I saw her tweeting about her word counts and about the sprint so I had to look up what she was talking about, and I think I signed up right there.

I hope that this blog post might inspire someone else to sign up too. The world needs your novel, but you really need to get it out there. So, sign up now! You have 27 days left to write!

And incase you need the link again at the bottom, the organization is Camp NaNoWriMo!

 

*Ok I am back to procrastinating my writing for fun.*

Environment

I Aim to Live Sustainably and You Should Too!

So I was sitting in my office kitchen today, looking down at my lunch garbage, and it got me to thinking about how all of my garbage was really unnecessary. And how it could have all been easily eliminated.

And honestly, it would have been so easy.

  1. My uncrustables sandwich wrapper was unnecessary because I could have made a PB&J to put into one of our sandwich containers just as easily as grabbing one already made.
  2. The bag of pretzels was a waste because, first of all they are so tiny, but second, I could have easily filled a tupperware container with the pretzels that we have already bought in bulk. And added something to the side, like Nutella for dipping.
  3. And then there was my can of seltzer, which I did put in the recycle bin (cans are 100% recyclable), but I could have done even better and brought in soda made in the soda machine that we already own, in a reusable bottle, thus eliminating the need for a disposable/ recyclable container in the first place.

The Reduce/ Reuse/ Recycle triangle that we all know so well, is not actually an equilateral triangle at all. The most important thing is reducing anything that we don’t need. Then reuse what we can’t reduce. Then recycle what we can’t reuse.

But these things are really hard because we live in such a “disposable” society, where convenience and saving time are way more valuable than living within our means, or even living completely sustainably.

My ultimate goal is to live 100% waste free, like a blogger that I discovered while doing research for one of my environmental courses. Bea Johnson, author of Zero Waste Home, lives each day eliminating all waste from her life. She has her actual garbage down to fit in one mason jar for the entire year. Talk about goals. If we all lived like she does, we would have no waste disposal issues, and virtually no need for any other environmental concerns, either.

But we can start small.

It is our obligation to make the world a better place for the future. But we aren’t going to be able to do this UNLESS we make changes to our current lifestyle. We aren’t going to see a huge impact tomorrow, and maybe not in our lifetime either. But if want to leave any planet left for the future we have to start today.

It is a matter of thinking ahead and being prepared. Do you have a favorite coffee place that you always go to? Buy their reusable to-go mug and bring it with you each time you get a drink from there. I will not go to Starbucks if I forgot to bring my mug.

Need to get a water? Get into the habit of bringing a reusable water bottle with you everywhere you go. If you forget one then make sure you carry the plastic water bottle around until you can actually find a recycle bin to properly dispose of your waste.

Buy your food and snacks in bulk. This eliminates a lot of the packaging. Even better though, would be to shop in stores where you can bring your own jars and containers to purchase the ingredients and then you can make the entire snack at home. Which would require the disposal of ZERO wrappers.

Forgo the straw. This shouldn’t be the first time you are hearing this, but, PLASTIC IS BAD. And straws are not even a necessity to drink a beverage, for the average person. If you really want or need a straw, then you can purchase nice reusable straws. (Just make sure you also get a special tool to clean the insides of the straws too because they can get gross.)

When deciding between two items or two brands, chose the one with less plastic/ packaging. Believe it or not, consumers do have a say in these things. Based on their decisions and purchases.

And finally, skip the plastic bag!

Suffolk county has only recently enacted a 5¢ bag fee, though I know it has been in the works for years now. And working in retail, I have seen the very ugly side of Americans who demand things like this for free. And are not good with change either. From what I witnessed in Scotland, (where they had just enacted their own 5p bag fee when I got there) everyone became acclimated very quickly and painlessly. And us transplants just accepted it as a part of the culture and it was no big deal.

But actually charging even such a small amount for bags has made such a huge difference already because people are not taking it if they don’t absolutely need it. And that is good. It has made every single customer stop and think about if they really need that bag, and I have not seen one person ask for a double bag anymore. Progress is slow, but it is still progress.

Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.

-Anna Lappé

Slowly we could all change the market, but the laws of supply and demand require that it starts with us, the consumers. We need to be the ones demanding better of our products and brands, and right now, unfortunately, that might mean purchasing items that are the more expensive, until demand goes up and then the price will come down.

And I challenge you to eliminate one wasteful habit from your life. One simple change can make a world of a difference. Start with one and then you can build up to be on Bea Johnson’s level too!

lorax

Leave a note in the comments if and where you caught my Lorax reference.